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1. Dak Prescott, QB Mississippi State
Last Week: 304 total yards (88 rushing), 3 touchdowns (2 rushing), & 1 interception in win at Kentucky
Outlook: Prescott’s 304 total yards was his lowest of the season, but Mississippi State still gained 542 yards of offense, and defeated Kentucky 45-31 to keep their perfect season alive. Prescott ends October as the Heisman favorite, but his frontrunner status is by no means safe. The competition is fierce, as the other candidates are also posting substantial numbers.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 362 total yards (36 rushing), 5 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win at California
Outlook: The strength of the SEC is casting a large shadow over college football. As a result, several other marquee players haven’t gotten the credit they deserve. Mariota is atop this list. He’s on pace to post throw 36 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Those numbers make him a serious challenger to Prescott, especially if Mississippi State doesn’t finish strong.
3. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last Week: 9 receptions, 224 receiving yards, & 2 touchdowns in win at Tennessee
Outlook: In 2003, Heisman voters rewarded Oklahoma quarterback Jason White with the trophy, despite the fact the Sooners loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship a week prior to the presentation. White narrowly beat Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who very clearly was a more outstanding player. History could repeat itself. Prescott and Mariota deserve more due than White did, but the best player in college football right now is Cooper. Fitzgerald played on a mid-tier team in ‘03, while Cooper plays on a national title contender. The latter may work to his favor.
4. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Last Week: 225 rushing yards & 3 touchdowns in win vs. Rutgers
Outlook: Abdullah set a school-record for all-purpose yards with 341. He added 26 receiving and 90 returning to his 225 rushing. The Nebraska running back is proving to be one of college football’s most consistent players. He has 100-plus rushing yards in six of Nebraska’s eight games, including eclipsing the 200-yard mark four times.
5. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Last Week: 433 passing yards & 7 touchdowns in win vs. Texas Tech
Outlook: You’d be hard press to find a hotter quarterback in college football night now than Boykin. The TCU signal caller is coming off back-to-back games of 400-plus passing yards. He’s also averaging slightly over 50 yards per game on the ground. The Horned Frogs dropped 82 on Texas Tech last Saturday, likely because they were looking to send a message to the rest of college football. The next two weeks will determine whether they have staying power in the top 10. They play at West Virginia this Saturday and host Kansas State a week later. Winning both games would cement them as playoff contenders, and Boykin’s status as a Heisman contender.
On the Bubble
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State