Here is the week 4 edition of the 2014 HP 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’s production continues to soar after a 329-yard, 5-touchdown performance in Oregon’s 38-31 win over Washington State. He now leads the nation in passing efficiency and is on pace to put up 52 total touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due. Oregon has this weekend off, but Mariota has taken command of this race. If he maintains his current statistical pace and the Ducks don’t suffer any major letdowns, he might run away with the trophy.
Season Stats: 71 of 96, 1,135 yards, 74.0%, 13 TDs, 0 INTs, 217.9 rating, 33 carries, 214 yards, 3 TDs
Season Pace: 3,689 passing yards, 42 TDs, 696 rushing yards, 10 TDs.
2. Todd Gurley, JR, RB, Georgia
Gurley wasn’t called upon to do much in Georgia’s 66-0 win over Troy. The junior had 73 yards on six carries before giving way to freshman Sony Michel. He remains on pace for a Heisman-worthy campaign, but the Bulldogs probably need to win the SEC East for him to really have a shot.
Season Stats: 41 carries, 402 yards, 9.8 YPC, 4 TDs, 5 receptions, -1 yards, 100 yard kickoff return for a TD.
Season Pace: 1,608 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns.
3. Everett Golson, SO, QB, Notre Dame
Golson remains an intriguing prospect in this race due to the Notre Dame schedule. If he leads the Irish to wins over Stanford and Florida State in the next few weeks, he could conceivably jump to the top of this list. Even if Notre Dame wins just one of the games — and Golson plays well in both of them — he should emerge as a serious candidate. On the other hand, if the Irish lose both and Golson’s production collapses, he’ll most likely fall out of contention.
Season Stats: 62 of 92, 780 yards, 64.6%, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, 156.8 rating, 83 rush yards, 4 TDs.
Season Pace: 3,120 passing yards, 28 TDs, 332 rushing yards, 16 TDs.
4. Kenny Hill, SO, QB, Texas A&M
Hill’s production one-third of the way into the season is sterling. However, the schedule is about to get pretty tough, as October games with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama loom. Can Hill emerge from this gauntlet unscathed? If he does, he’ll probably be on his way to New York. If not, he might have to wait until next year.
Season Stats: 97 of 139, 1,359 yards, 69.8%, 13 TDs, 1 INTs, 181.3 rating, 106 rush yards.
Season Pace: 4,078 passing yards, 39 TD passes, 318 rushing yards.
5. Ameer Abdullah, SR, RB, Nebraska
Heisman voters love 200-yard rushing games and Abdullah had his second of the season by rushing for 229 yards (with two touchdowns) against Miami. Abdullah is now on pace for almost 1,900 yards and could top the magical 2,000-yard mark if the Huskers make their way to the Big Ten title game. A big game against Michigan State on Oct. 4 might vault him over Gurley as the top running back candidate in this race.
Season Stats: 92 carries, 625 yards, 6.79 YPC, 5 TDs, 5 receptions, 108 yards, 2 TD.
Season Pace: 1,875 yards, 15 TDs, 15 catches, 324 yards, 6 TDs.
6. Melvin Gordon, JR, RB, Wisconsin
Gordon got back on track this past weekend with 253 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 carries in Wisconsin’s thrashing of Bowling Green. The junior has the ability to put up yards in bunches and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on a tear in the next few weeks. The 2,000-yard mark is within reach, but it will probably require that the Badgers make the Big Ten title game — which means beating Nebraska and Abdullah in mid-November.
Season Stats: 46 carries, 431 yards, 9.37 YPC, 6 TD, 5 receptions, 27 yards, 1 TD.
Season Pace: 1,760 yards, 18 TDs, 15 catches, 81 yards, 3 TDs.
7. Bryce Petty, SR, QB, Baylor
Petty and Baylor are coming off a bye week and will now jump into Big 12 play. Petty is off to a relatively slow start to the season and he doesn’t appear to be 100 percent healthy, but the potential is there for a rebound. I think he needs to average at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes per game the rest of the way to have a shot, but that should be doable in Art Briles’ offense.
Season Stats: 36 of 57, 577 yards, 63.2%, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 182.9 rating, 4 carries, 32 yards, 1 TD.
Season Pace: 3,179 passing yards, 33 TDs, 176 rushing yards, 6 TDs.
8. Taysom Hill, JR, QB, BYU
Hill passed for 187 yards and rushed for 72, with three total touchdowns, in the Cougars’ win over Virginia this past Saturday. He remains on pace for an excellent season and, if BYU finishes 12-0 with no playoff berth available, some voters might see a Hill trip to New York as a nice consolation prize.
Season Stats: 80 of 121, 876 yards, 66.1%, 6 TDs, 3 INT, 138.3 rating, 79 carries, 428 rush yards, 7 TDs.
Season Pace: 2,628 passing yards, 18 TDs, 1,284 rushing yards, 21 TDs.
9. Dak Prescott, JR, QB, Mississippi State
Prescott might be turning into this year’s dark horse. He’s on pace for a Heisman-worthy campaign after a brilliant performance in MSU’s road win over LSU. He’ll make a huge jump on this list if he can guide the Bulldogs over Texas A&M and Auburn in the coming weeks.
Season Stats: 58 of 96, 964 yards, 60.4%, 11 TDs, 2 INT, 178.4 rating, 62 carries, 378 yards, 3 TD.
Season Pace: 2,892 passing yards, 33 TDs, 1,134 rushing yards, 9 TDs.
10. Nick Marshall, SR, QB, Auburn
Time is running out for Marshall to produce the statistics he needs to compete in this race, but Auburn plays seven ranked opponents the rest of the way…which means he can make up lost ground in a hurry. Nonetheless, he’ll drop out of contention unless he explodes this Saturday against Louisiana Tech.
Season Stats: 31 of 56, 382 yards, 55.4%, 3 TD, 1 INTs, 126.7 rating, 29 carries, 168 yards, 2 TDs.
Season Pace: 1,651 passing yards, 13 TD passes, 728 rushing yards, 9 TDs
If the vote was held today
1. Marcus Mariota*
2. Todd Gurley*
3. Amari Cooper*
4. Kenny Hill*
5. Ameer Abdullah*
6. Dak Prescott
7. Bryce Petty
8. Melvin Gordon
9. James Conner
10. D.J. Foster
* — finalist