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1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: Oregon closes out the regular-season against Colorado and Oregon State. The Ducks shouldn’t have any trouble in either matchup, thus putting Mariota in position to win the Heisman trophy with a strong performance in the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 5.
2. Melvin Gordon III, RB, Wisconsin
Last Week: 408 rushing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. No. 16 Nebraska
Outlook: The cold and snow served as a backdrop in Madison, as Gordon took center stage. He went off on the Cornhuskers, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s single-game rushing yardage record. Gordon, who didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, had six runs of 35 or more yards. He finished the day with 408 yards on just 25 carries. That’s an average of 16.3 yards per attempt. Wisconsin’s offensive line deserves immense credit for dominating Nebraska at the line of scrimmage. Gordon routinely ran through open holes on his record setting day. He now has four games with 200-plus rushing yards. He’s also scored two or more touchdowns in five consecutive games. Wisconsin now has an excellent opportunity to win the Big Ten West division, and play Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship on December 6. This gives Gordon a clear path to the Heisman trophy. Lead the Badgers to a Big Ten championship, and most voters are going to have a hard time voting for anyone else, Mariota included, for the Heisman trophy.
3. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Last Week: 330 passing yards, 1 touchdown, & 1 interception in win at Kansas
Outlook: After gashing Kansas State with his legs a week ago, Boykin turned in an efficient effort with his arm against Kansas. He completed a season-high 72.2 percent of his passes, and eclipsed 300-plus passing yards for the fifth time this year. Perhaps the biggest help to his Heisman cause on Saturday was Ohio State struggling to put away Minnesota, a team TCU beat by 23 points in September. If the Horned Frogs make the playoff, then Boykin is a good bet to receive an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December.
4. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Last Week: 372 total yards (82 rushing), 2 touchdowns, & 3 interceptions in loss at No. 5 Alabama
Outlook: Most people saw what was coming on Saturday. While Mississippi State did well to lose to Alabama by only five, Prescott struggled mightily throughout the game. He finished with a season-high three interceptions, and completed less than 60 percent of his passes. November was always going to be a make or break month for the Bulldogs and their Heisman-contending quarterback. They failed their first test against Alabama. Their next big one comes two days after Thanksgiving against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
5. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last Week: 8 receptions, 88 receiving yards, & 1 touchdown in win vs. No. 1 Mississippi State
Outlook: Another workman-like performance from Cooper keeps him in the Heisman conversation, but it’s not enough to put him in position to win the award. Receivers don’t get the same benefit of the doubt that running backs and quarterbacks do, so Cooper really needed to dominate Mississippi State. The good news is that he’ll probably have two more opportunities to go off on a big stage. Alabama plays Auburn in the Iron Bowl the day after Thanksgiving, and their likely to play for the SEC Championship against Georgia or Missouri on December 6.
On the Bubble
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL)
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State