Heisman Watch: Week Seven

Story posted October 13, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Marcus Mariota, Junior QB, Oregon

Stock: UP

Week 7 Stats: 17-27, 210 yards, 2 TD, 7 carries, 75 yards, 2 TD

Season Stats: 108-155, 1621, 17 TD, 49 carries, 290 yards, 5 TD

The dual threat master is back at it again for his Ducks offense and back on top of the Heisman Watch List after Week 7. Some unfortunate circumstances that affected Todd Gurley (we’ll get to that later) combined with terrific play on the field by Marcus Mariota, and the junior quarterback finds himself poised to begin his reign at the top of this list once again, this time looking to pull away from the pack.

Mariota was simply sensational this weekend, defeating conference foe and ranked opponent No. 18 UCLA by a score of 42-30, in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard indicated. UCLA scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to trim a once 42-10 Ducks’ lead into just a 12-point result.

Mariota, however, got his offense going early and often, as he dominated for the first three quarters of this contest. The junior threw for 210 yards on 17 completions to six different Duck receivers. He also added two touchdowns through the air. Mariota now stands at an impressive 17 touchdowns on the season.

The man who may be the most well-known dual threat quarterback in the country was at it again with his legs as well, picking up 75 yards on the ground. He averaged over 10 yards per rush on the day as well as punched in two more scores with his feet.

Mariota and the Ducks got back on track in a big way against UCLA after a huge blow at the hands of Arizona the week before. Oregon will next take on a good Washington Huskies squad before heading on the road to battle a much improved Cal team. I expect Mariota to be sharp, because he’ll have to be, to pull out two more wins in the Pac-12 the next two contests.

Todd Gurley, Sophomore RB, Georgia

Stock: DOWN

Week 7: Suspended

Season Stats: 94 carries, 773 yards, 8 TD

Gurley was suspended indefinitely by Georgia earlier last week. It is alleged that Gurley was given money for signed memorabilia or the use of his likeness, but Georgia officials have not commented to this point.

With all that being said, I’m willing to give the man a week to regroup. If this all clears up in the next couple of days, and Gurley returns to the field this weekend to match up with Arkansas, that in my mind, there is no reason to remove him from this list.

If, however, Gurley does not suit once again for the Bulldogs, and the onward investigations continue, you will start to see a slip in the rankings, and a quick one at that.

Gurley’s play has solidified a spot for him here on the Watch at least for one more week. He’s rushed for almost 800 yards on less than 100 touches. He’s also found the endzone eight times on the ground this year.

If he plays, I expect him to play just as well as he did before all the problems arose. If he does not, however, Todd Gurley’s 2014 Heisman Hopes are all but dead and buried.

Second Tier

Dak Prescott, Junior QB, Mississippi State

Stock: UP

Week 7 Stats: 18-34, 246 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 21 carries, 121 yards, 2 TD

Season Stats: 96-156, 1478 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT, 106 carries, 576 yards, 8 TD

After speculation that the Bulldogs of Mississippi State could be a fluke, that they could be just a team that started hot and played a good game against LSU, Dak Prescott has risen to show the naysayers that this Bulldogs team is for real. After beating Texas A&M last week, another highly ranked opponent, Mississippi State was set to square off against No. 2 Auburn in possibly the biggest game of the program’s history. And boy, did they ever come to play, defeating the Tigers at home 38-23, in a game, very similar to the one Oregon played, wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Prescott, despite throwing two interceptions on the day, was a terrific leader for this Bulldogs team. Even with the two picks, Prescott finished the day throwing for almost 250 yards on 18 completions. He also added a score through the air.

The junior quarterback was most effective, however, on the ground. Prescott diced up the Tiger defense all day with his legs, rushing for 121 yards on 21 carries. He also punched in two scores on the ground. It may be time to start putting Prescott in the upper echelon of running quarterbacks, with the likes of Marcus Mariota.


Prescott and the Bulldogs will get a bit of a breather the next couple of weeks, as they’ll have a bye this weekend coming up followed by a trip to take on Kentucky, a team that is certainly dangerous, but not quite as difficult of a task as the last three weeks for the Bulldogs.

I’ve been truly impressed with the way that Prescott has carried himself on the field over the last couple of weeks in the face of extreme adversity. I’d expect him to remain a focal point of the M-State offense as well as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy for the rest of the 2014 season.

Melvin Gordon, Junior RB, Wisconsin

Stock: UP

Week 7 Stats: 27 carries, 175 yards, 4 TD

Season Stats: 132 carries, 1036 yards, 13 TD

It’s beginning to look like each Saturday is just another day at the office for Melvin Gordon, as he simply continues to shred opposing defensive at will for Wisconsin. Gordon has been, to this point, the best and most consistent running back in the country, rushing for over 150 yards in his last four games.

Gordon continued the trend of ripping off big chunks of yardage for Wisconsin this weekend in their 38-28 victory over Illinois. The junior back touched the ball 27 times on the day and rushed for 175 yards on the ground. He was also able to find the endzone four more times in this contest. His season total now sits at an incredible 13 touchdowns for the year, breaking his career high for touchdowns in a season just six games in.

The Badgers will next have a bye week before they take on Maryland at home as they continue their stretch of Big Ten play. They won’t see another ranked opponent until they square off against Nebraska in mid-November.

Gordon is on pace for well over 2000 yards this season and 26 touchdowns. He is, however, also on pace for 264 carries. That’s a heavy workload for a college running back’s tires. We all know that Wisconsin loves to run the football, but will Gordon slow down as the temperature gets colder and he carries the ball more and more?

My thinking is no to that. He’s been so terrific and durable to this point; I believe he’s going to be able to shoulder the load for the rest of the season for the Badgers. In fact, they’ll need him to continue to be successful if they want to win an incredibly wide-open Big Ten. Look for Gordon to break 200 touches easily by the end of the season.

Honorable Mention

Kenny Hill, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M

Amari Cooper, Junior WR, Alabama

Everett Golson, Senior QB, Notre Dame

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Tyler Zulli is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tzull34gmail.com.