Here is the week 1 edition of the 2014 Heismanpundit Heisman Watch. After taking into account the games played so far, these are the players who have the best chance of actually winning the Heisman. This is not a prediction of the final order of the race, nor is it an endorsement of who would or should win if the vote were held today. It’s a long view of the race that takes into account schedule and statistical trends.
1. Marcus Mariota, JR, QB, Oregon
Mariota looked sharp (as expected) in Oregon’s 62-13 victory over South Dakota, but that was just a tune up for the mega tilt this Saturday against No. 8 Michigan State. The Heisman front runner will further solidify his status if he plays well against the tough Spartans defense.
Week One Stats: 14 of 20, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 231.64 rating, 6 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD.
2. Nick Marshall, SR, QB, Auburn
Marshall sat out portions of Auburn’s 45-21 win over Arkansas due to a suspension. His numbers were dampened as a result, but they should pick up as the season progresses. While the schedule sets up nicely for Marshall, it will be interesting to see if Jeremy Johnson eats into his production a bit in subsequent games. If so, then Marshall will tumble down this list.
Week One Stats: 4 of 6, 50 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 136.67 rating, 8 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD.
3. Todd Gurley, JR, RB, Georgia
Gurley jumped four spots from last week’s Heisman Watch thanks to a monstrous effort in Georgia’s 45-21 win over No. 16 Clemson. He rushed for 198 yards and three scores and also added a touchdown on a 100-yard kickoff return. So far, so good, but staying healthy will be the key for him this season. If he has another great game against South Carolina this weekend, he’ll likely emerge as Mariota’s main challenger for the Heisman.
Week One Stats: 15 carries, 198 yards, 3 TDs, 1 KOR, 100 yards, 1 TD.
4. Trevor Knight, SO, QB, Oklahoma
There aren’t many marquee games on Oklahoma’s early-season schedule, which means Knight’s performances probably won’t be getting much attention for a while. He had a decent game against Louisiana Tech, but he’ll need to pick up his statistical pace in the next few weeks in order to stay in contention for the Heisman.
Week One Stats: 19 of 34, 253 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 122.21 rating, 4 carries, 17 yards.
5. Bryce Petty, SR, QB, Baylor
Petty had an abbreviated outing against SMU due to an injured back. It doesn’t look to be a serious matter, but it did result in a rather un-Petty-like stat line. We won’t hear much from him until the Bears take on Texas a month from now.
Week One Stats: 13 of 23, 161 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 144.02 rating, 2 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD.
6. Brett Hundley, JR, QB, UCLA
The Bruins offense looked sluggish in a closer-than-expected win against Virginia, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Hundley to showcase his talents this season. For now, the question is whether UCLA’s rather porous offensive line will be able to keep him off the ground.
Week One Stats: 20 of 33, 242 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 122.21 rating, 15 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD.
7. Melvin Gordon, JR, RB, Wisconsin
Gordon was brilliant against a very athletic LSU defense, gaining 140 yards and scoring a touchdown on just 16 carries. For some reason, he only had two carries in the second half, which led to the Badgers blowing a 24-7 lead before losing to the Tigers. The schedule ahead should allow for high-level production by Gordon, but he won’t play another team of consequence until mid November.
Week One Stats: 16 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD.
8. Everett Golson, JR, QB, Notre Dame
Golson looked sharp in his first game back after missing all of 2013, totaling five touchdowns in Notre Dame’s thrashing of Rice. This week’s game against Michigan will give us an inkling into whether this kind of production will be a trend or an aberration. If it becomes a trend, he’ll rocket up this list.
Week One Stats: 14 of 22, 295 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 206.28 rating, 12 carries, 41 yards, 3 TDs.
9. Ameer Abdullah, SR, RB, Nebraska
Abdullah is already ahead of his junior year pace after cranking out a career-high 232 yards against Florida Atlantic. If he can get to 600 yards by the time the Cornhuskers face Miami, he might have a shot at reaching the magical 2,000-yard mark, which would make him a serious Heisman candidate.
Week One Stats: 21 carries, 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec., 9 yards.
10. Javorius Allen, JR, RB, USC
Allen got off to a nice start with 133 yards against Fresno State. If he goes off against Stanford on Saturday, he’ll be viewed as the Pac-12′s top running back and move up this list.
Week One Stats: 22 carries, 133 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, 23 yards.
11. Kenny Hill, SO, QB, Texas A&M
It was just one game, but Hill’s incredible debut in a win on the road against South Carolina was probably the most talked-about performance of the weekend. He plays in a system that almost guarantees elite production, so if he proves his mettle in wins against Alabama, Auburn and LSU, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation all season.
Week One Stats: 44 of 60, 511 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 161.37 rating, 7 carries, 5 yards.
12. Taysom Hill, JR, QB, BYU
Hill was almost effortless in piling up 405 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in BYU’s 35-10 crushing of Connecticut. It looks like his passing skills have really improved, which means he has the potential to have a 3,000/1,000 season. If he has the kind of game he had this past week while beating Texas on Saturday, look for the Heisman chatter to begin.
Week One Stats: 28 of 36, 308 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 177.15 rating, 12 carries, 97 yards, 2 TDs.