By Ashley Gulick
Although there is still a lot of football left to play, the 2014 Heisman Watch is beginning to finally take shape and produce a notable list of legitimate frontrunners. At Week 11 of the 2014 season, here are my thoughts as to which players are rising to the “cream of the crop.”
1) Dak Prescott – QB Mississippi State
Although the Bulldogs scraped out a 17-10 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night, it certainly was not their prettiest win of the season by any means. But, enter quarterback Dak Prescott. Once again, Prescott proved his ability and efficiency as a leader under pressure, and that is why I have him at the top of my Heisman list.
After a 69-yard pass to Fred Ross for the go-ahead touchdown, Prescott was more than clutch in a game-winning moment. After going 18 of 27 for 331 yards and a TD, Prescott is now the first Mississippi State QB to throw for 300 yards since 2007. The Bulldogs are also on an 11-game win streak, which is the second longest in the country behind Florida State. If Prescott can continue to lead his team—and most importantly bring home a huge win in a couple of weeks against Alabama—then I think he will definitely be sitting in prime position to bring home the trophy.
For the season, Prescott is 132 of 216 for 2,025 yards, 16 TDs and 7 INTs. He also has 137 carries for 725 yards and 10 TDs.
2) Marcus Mariota – QB Oregon
In true Mariota fashion, Oregon finally earned an impressive 45-16 win over Stanford to snap a two-series losing streak to the Cardinals. Finally getting the “monkey off of his back,” Mariota not only earned the plaguing victory, but also boosted the rankings for the Ducks and himself in the Heisman race.
This win was a huge confidence booster for the junior who threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also had nine rushes for 85 yards. Another interesting stat after Saturday’s win: Mariota now has a passing TD in 35 straight games, which is tied for the fourth longest streak in FBS history.
So far this season, Mariota is 169 of 248 for 2,541 yards, 26 TDs and 2 INTs. He has 71 carries for 410 yards and 7 TDs.
3) Amari Cooper – WR Alabama
Although the Tide had a bye this week, Cooper stays at No. 3 in my opinion, simply for his position as the true leader of this offense. With several key games coming up against LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn, his performance in those games will factor heavily into whether he stays in my top three.
Cooper’s stats for the year stand at 71 catches for 1,132 yards total and 9 TDs. In his last performance against Tennessee, Cooper had a career and school single-game best of 224 yards in the Tide’s 34-20 victory. Cooper only needs one more yard to match Alabama’s single-season record set by Julio Jones in 2010.
4) Melvin Gordon – RB Wisconsin
Even though the Heisman race is quarterback-heavy, do not count out Melvin Gordon, who is quickly making a name for himself behind his consistency week after week. Although their schedule may not carry the weight that most find important, his numbers are still just too good to keep him out of contention. After routing Rutgers 37-0, Gordon ended his night with 19 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Although he left the game with a knee injury, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said he would be fine going forward. So far this season, the junior has 173 total carries for 1,296 yards and 18 TDs. Saturday also marked his sixth game in which he has rushed for at least 100 yards total. His performance against Nebraska in a couple of weeks will definitely be a determining factor in if he stays in this race or not.
5) Everett Golson – QB Notre Dame
Although their 49-39 win over Navy did not impress overall, it was not about the win as much as it was about what Golson did individually on the field. On Saturday, the senior QB became the first player in Notre Dame school history to throw for three touchdowns and also run for three scores. With the lack of defense for the Fighting Irish, they relied heavily on Golson’s performance to take home the win. Accounting for six TDs total, Golson was 18 of 25 for 315 yards. He also rushed nine times for 33 yards.
This season, Golson is currently 184 of 293 for 2,311 yards, 22 TDs and 7 INTs. He also has 78 carries for 275 yards and 7 TDs.
Ashley Gulick is a staff writer for Scouts Alley. You can follow her on Twitter.