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1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Last Week: 367 total yards (121 rushing), 3 touchdowns (2 rushing), & 1 interception in win vs. No. 2 Auburn
Outlook: In my college football column last Friday, I predicted Prescott’s ascension to the top spot in the Heisman race. You could see it coming from a mile away. Mississippi State was at home, playing against No. 2 Auburn in the week’s marquee game. Victory was only possible if Prescott played well. He did and the Bulldogs became the first team in 30-plus years to win three consecutive games against AP top 10 teams.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 285 total yards (75 rushing) & 4 touchdowns (2 rushing) in win at No. 18 UCLA
Outlook: Following a tough loss to Arizona, Mariota needed a bounce-back effort against UCLA. He delivered, leading Oregon to victory over UCLA in a game that wasn’t as close as the score (42-30) indicates. Mariota now has 20 total touchdowns (five rushing) and no turnovers this season. Oregon, who climbed their way back into the top 10, has a favorable schedule moving forward.
3. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: Did not play in win at No. 23 Missouri
Outlook: We should have a better understanding of the NCAA’s intentions regarding Gurley at this time next week. I will have more to say on his indefinite suspension on Friday. Simply put, his season and potential Heisman campaign may have abruptly ended. The ball is in the NCAA’s court, and that isn’t a good thing for Gurley’s Heisman status.
4. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 371 total yards (71 rushing), 3 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win vs. North Carolina
Outlook: Notre Dame continues to squeak by their opponents, thanks to stellar fourth-quarter play. Golson led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to give Notre Dame the lead for good against North Carolina. Last week, the Notre Dame quarterback led the Fighting Irish to 10 fourth-quarter points against Stanford. The Fighting Irish have a date with No. 2 Florida State in next weekend’s biggest game.
5. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Last Week: 510 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, & 2 interceptions in win vs. No. 9 TCU
Outlook: It’s unlikely you’ll see a better comeback than the one orchestrated against TCU by Petty. Down 51-37, the Horned Frogs intercepted a pass from Petty, and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. The game was over, and so were Petty’s Heisman chances. The Horned Frogs got complacent, though, and Petty burned them in the final 11 minutes. The Baylor quarterback led the Bears on four scoring drives, throwing two touchdown passes. A questionable pass interference call setup the game-winning field goal.
6. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last Week: 2 receptions & 22 receiving yards in win at Arkansas
Outlook: Through his first four games, Cooper caught 43 passes for 655 yards and five touchdowns. He has just 11 receptions for 113 yards and no touchdowns over his last two games. He should be able to get back on track next week, as Alabama hosts Texas A&M and their leaky defense.
7. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: A favorable schedule and the potential downfall of Gurley create an opening for Abdullah to emerge as the country’s best running back. Road games against Iowa and Wisconsin are the toughest remaining on Nebraska’s schedule. Neither the Badgers nor Hawkeyes have an imposing defense, so you haven’t heard the last of Abdullah in this race.
8. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 317 passing yards & 3 touchdowns in win at Syracuse
Outlook: Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill played his way out of the top eight this week, opening the door for Winston and Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. I give the edge to Winston, who is coming off back-to-back impressive performances. He also has an excellent opportunity next week to remind everybody why he was last year’s Heisman winner, as the Seminoles host the Fighting Irish in primetime.
On the Bubble
Javorius Allen, RB, USC
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss