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1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: The Bulldogs, following their statement victory over Auburn last Saturday, climbed to No. 1 in the polls last week. It is the first time in school history MSU ranks No. 1 in the AP poll. Charting the SEC is dangerous, but all signs point toward Prescott leading the Bulldogs into Tuscaloosa on November 15 with a perfect 9-0 record.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 336 passing yards & 2 touchdowns in win vs. Washington
Outlook: Since losing to Arizona on October 2, Mariota has completed 41-of-60 passes for 546 yards and four touchdowns. He's also added two more on the ground. In addition, the Ducks are playing more like the team preseason prognosticators envisioned, averaging 43.5 points per game over the same span. They have an excellent opportunity to compile major numbers this Friday when they play at California.
3. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last Week: 8 receptions, 140 receiving yards, & 2 touchdowns in win vs. No. 21 Texas A&M
Outlook: After back-to-back underwhelming performances, Alabama’s offense got back on track against Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide thumped the Aggies, amassing 602 total yards. Cooper is the offense’s greatest asset. His presence, especially when he’s productive, opens up the rest of the playbook. Teams are afraid to bring too many defenders into the box because they think he’ll smoke them over the top. Receivers don’t get a lot of play for the Heisman, but Cooper is going to force voters to take a hard look at him if he continues to play as well as he has.
4. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Last Week: 146 rushing yards & 4 touchdowns in win at Northwestern
Outlook: With Georgia’s Todd Gurley in freefall, Abdullah and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon are the likeliest running backs to fill his void. The edge goes to Abdullah because Nebraska is 6-1, while Wisconsin already has two losses. A November 15 showdown in Madison may determine which running back receives an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Additionally, it may well decide which one wins the Doak Walker Award.
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 273 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
Outlook: Winston’s second-half performance against Notre Dame was mesmerizing. He led the Seminoles to three touchdowns in the final 30 minutes, completing 15-of-16 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. Last year’s Heisman winner seems to have a knack for rising to the occasion. He did it against Auburn in the national championship, and he did to Notre Dame on Saturday. From an on-field standpoint, Winston is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. Voters won’t ignore his off-field issues, however. Right now, that's the barrier separating Winston from Mariota and Prescott.
6. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 346 total yards (33 rushing), 3 touchdowns, & 2 interceptions in loss at No. 2 Florida State
Outlook: Saturday’s thriller between Florida State and Notre Dame supposedly was going to act as a playoff elimination game, thus the losing quarterback probably would have his Heisman hopes dashed. The story the media predicts isn’t always the one it gets. On Saturday, I saw two great teams quarterbacked by great players play one of the best regular-season games of the decade. Golson was spectacular, coming just one pass short of completing one of the greatest drives in the history of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish will have a compelling case to make the playoffs if they’re able to overcome November road games against Arizona State and USC. Golson’s campaign isn’t dead, yet.
On the Bubble
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor