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1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 292 total yards (71 rushing) & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Wyoming
Outlook: A scoreless first quarter against Wyoming made things interesting early, but the Ducks quickly put the notion of a letdown to rest by scoring on six consecutive drives. Through three games, Mariota has 962 yards of offense (806 passing, 156 rushing) and 11 touchdowns (3 rushing).
2. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: 131 rushing yards & 1 touchdown in loss at No. 24 South Carolina
Outlook: Georgia and South Carolina played a high-scoring, entertaining game from Columbia. Down 38-35, Georgia intercepted South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson’s pass deep in Gamecock territory. With timeouts remaining, the circumstances were ideal for Georgia to ride Gurley to the end zone, yet the Georgia running back received just a one touch. As a result, they had to settle for a field goal, but kicker Marshall Morgan (normally sure-footed) missed his attempt. Despite Gurley’s 130-yard effort, the loss is enough to drop him just below Mariota on this week’s Heisman report.
3. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 338 total yards (38 rushing) & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Rice
Outlook: Hill is compiling abnormal numbers against inferior opponents. This is exactly what he needs to do. A great player pounces on his prey. Jameis Winston did the same thing a year ago. Look for Hill’s monster performances to continue next week against SMU, a team that has allowed each of their two opponents to score 40-plus points.
4. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Last Week: 110 rushing yards & 1 touchdown in win at Fresno State
Outlook: Although he has received little early-season buzz, Abdullah is well positioned for a run at the Heisman. In fact, now seems like a good time to anoint him as this year’s Heisman sleeper. A wide-open Big Ten opens the door for Nebraska to return to national prominence. Even if they don’t compete for a playoff berth, the Cornhuskers could still win the conference, and appear in the Orange Bowl. Such a result could get Abdullah an invite to New York, especially with his lofty numbers (Abdullah is on pace for 1,584 rushing yards).
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: The Seminoles upcoming game against Clemson is significant. It’s their first primetime showing since their underwhelming victory over Oklahoma State on August 31. The nation will expect progress from both the team and their Heisman trophy winning quarterback.
6. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Last Week: 416 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win at Buffalo
Outlook: Ignore Petty’s No. 6 ranking. It has more to do with him not playing than his actual upside. In fact, now that he’s healthy, Petty is one of the three biggest contenders (Gurley and Mariota) to usurp Winston’s Heisman trophy reign.
7. Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Last Week: 425 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Ohio
Outlook: A discussion regarding the possibility of a mid major partaking in this year’s playoff gained traction last week in light of BYU’s dominate victory over Texas. The fact the discussion happened lends me to believe that mid major love isn’t going anywhere, despite the presence of a playoff. This could bode well for Cato’s long-term Heisman standing, as Marshall (and not BYU) is the mid major best position to make a run at an unbeaten season.
8. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 315 total yards (56 rushing) & 3 touchdowns (1 rushing) in win vs. Purdue
Outlook: What makes Golson such an intriguing Heisman candidate is the amount of big games he’ll appear in this season. The Fighting Irish have games against Arizona State, Florida State, Louisville, Stanford, and USC remaining on their schedule. Each one presents Golson with an opportunity to make his presence felt in this race.
9. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last Week: 8 receptions, 135 receiving yards, & 1 touchdown in win vs. Southern Miss
Outlook: Three games into the season and Cooper is emerging as Alabama’s best offensive player. The Crimson Tide have relied on their running backs in recent years, leading many (myself included) to conclude that sophomore Derrick Henry or junior T.J. Yeldon would emerge as the team’s Heisman contender. However, despite the running game’s promise, Cooper’s game-breaking ability on the outside continues to standout. His per game average is 11 catches for 151 yards. Let’s see if he keeps it up against SEC opponents.
10. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
Last Week: 360 total yards (160 rushing), 2 touchdowns (1 rushing), & 2 interceptions in win vs. Houston
Outlook: BYU made their season debut in the top 25 last week and Hill is the main reason why. He’s run the ball incredibly well in the Cougars first three games, totaling 356 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.
On the Bubble
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
Cody Kessler, QB, USC
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss