Heisman Rankings: Week 6

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Eleven of the nation’s Top 25 teams
fell in one of the wildest college football weekends in recent memory, and as
a result, there’s plenty of shakeup in our ranking of the Heisman hopefuls.

1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State — The nation can no longer afford to
sleep on Prescott, who’s led the 5-0 Bulldogs to back-to-back wins over Top 10
teams to position his squad as a bona fide threat to win the SEC Western
Division. While Mississippi State’s defense certainly played a big role in
Saturday’s 48-31 win over sixth-ranked Texas A&M, Prescott was nearly perfect
in leading a balanced offensive attack that racked up 559 yards (289 rushing,
270 passing). The signal caller completed 19-of-25 pass attempts for 259 yards
and two touchdowns while rushing for 77 yards and three more scores in
thoroughly outshining fellow Heisman candidate Kenny Hill. With nearly 1,700
total yards and 19 touchdowns, there’s no question Prescott is here to stay,
and he’ll have yet another opportunity to cement his status as a big-game
quarterback when MSU hosts Auburn this week.

2. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia — It’s becoming clearer with each passing week
that no one in college football at any position is more unstoppable than
Gurley. In an easy, 44-17 triumph over Vanderbilt – Georgia’s third
straight win – the physically gifted tailback was outstanding with 25 carries
for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him 773 yards and eight
touchdowns on the ground this season. His prowess as a runner would have been
more than enough to make a leap in the rankings this week, but Gurley added
another highlight-reel moment to his Heisman resume with a 50-yard pass to Jeb
Blazevich in the second quarter, further proving there’s nothing he can’t do.

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — As outstanding as Mariota has been in his
career, his Ducks have fallen short of lofty expectations in each of his
seasons due to one or two head-scratching losses along the way, and the 2014
version of the squad followed suit as a 31-24 home setback to unranked Arizona.
Mariota played well, completing 20-of-32 passes for 276 yards and two
touchdowns while also hauling in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Royce Freeman on
a trick play, but he was sacked five times and finished with only one rushing
yard. Mariota, who has 1,411 passing yards, 215 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns
and zero interceptions, will almost certainly accumulate enough numbers to be a
Heisman finalist once again, but claiming the trophy won’t be as much of a
slam dunk as it seemed a week ago if Oregon’s defense and offensive line keeps
letting him down.

4. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame — Golson faced a tough task in squaring off
against Stanford’s top-ranked scoring defense on Saturday, and he
understandably had some struggles against the stout unit in completing less
than 50 percent of his passes (20-of-43) and turning the ball over twice with
an interception and a fumble. The signal caller stepped up in crunch time,
however, by tossing a 23-yard touchdown to Ben Koyack on 4th-and-11 with just
over a minute remaining to lift the Fighting Irish to a thrilling, 17-14
victory. Golson’s late-game heroics allowed him to finish with 275 total yards
and two touchdowns, upping his season totals to 1,521 yards and 17 scores as
he continued to prove himself as one of the nation’s best big-game

5. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn — The unbeaten Tigers are quietly going about
their business this season, and following a 41-7 drudging of LSU on Saturday,
they all of a sudden look like the best team in the SEC. The play of Marshall
under center is a big reason for Auburn’s success. The quarterback had one of
the best games of his career with 326 total yards (207 passing, 119 rushing)
and four touchdowns against one of the nation’s best defenses. Marshall’s
numbers may not be as gaudy as some of the other dual threats on this list
(755 passing yards, 392 rushing yards, 12 TDs), but he’s thrown just one
interception and is definitely trending in the right direction as Auburn
rises in the polls.

6. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama — Cooper’s star was ascending fast through the
first month of the season, but with such elite competition at the top paired
with the timing of Alabama’s first loss of the season over the weekend, the
nation’s best receiver has to take a dip in the ranks this week through little
fault of his own. The Crimson Tide blew a fourth-quarter lead in their 23-17
setback at Ole Miss, although the Rebels had little success slowing down
Cooper, who hauled in nine passes for 91 yards. Amazingly enough, it was the
first time this season Cooper failed to cross the century mark receiving, but
his five-game totals this season are still staggering (52 receptions, 746
yards, five TDs).

7. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin — The Badgers fell to 3-2 after losing their
Big Ten opener at Northwestern on Saturday, 20-14, but Gordon did everything
he could to better his team’s fortunes in the loss. For the second time in
three weeks, Gordon set a career high in rushing, piling on 259 yards and a
touchdown, leaving him with 871 yards and nine scores on the season. Wisconsin
coach Gary Anderson has responded to early season criticism of not feeding his
best player the ball enough by giving Gordon a combined 59 carries over the
last two weeks, even though it might appear Gordon’s talent alone probably
won’t be enough to help the Badgers along to a Big Ten title this season. A
team’s record doesn’t matter as much for a running back as is does for a
quarterback, as 2013 finalist Andre Williams proved last season in playing
for a 7-6 Boston College team. So as long as Gordon keeps posting eye-popping
numbers, his status as a favorite is safe.

8. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska — Down 24 points to Michigan State in the
fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers nearly pulled off a miracle comeback thanks in
large part to Abdullah’s two late touchdown runs, but they fell just short in a
27-22 setback, turning the ball over in MSU territory with under a minute to
play. Despite the touchdowns, Abdullah was held in check by the nation’s
fourth-ranked rushing defense (72 yards per game), as he turned 24 carries into
a mere 45 yards. There isn’t much reason to worry about Abdullah. He’s still
the nation’s leading rusher with 878 yards, and with 12 touchdowns he’s already
passed his career high set in 2013 (11) on 162 fewer touches.

9. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M — Hill took this week’s biggest tumble in the
rankings following the Aggies’ first loss of the season to the Prescott-led
Bulldogs. With the game well out of reach in the fourth quarter, Hill was able
to pad his stats and finish with 365 yards and four touchdowns, but he needed
62 pass attempts to get there. Mississippi State’s defense caused him fits as
he threw three interceptions (one more than he had coming into the game) and
was sacked four times. One disappointing performance, however, can’t take away
from what Hill has done overall this year (2,110 yards, 21 TDs, five
interceptions). He’ll have plenty more opportunities to redeem himself, or
perhaps fall even farther, with matchups against Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn,
Missouri and LSU still on the docket.

10. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — In a crazy week when No. 2 Alabama,
No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 8 UCLA all lost, there’s
something to be said about Winston’s Seminoles hanging on to the No. 1 spot.
Even though FSU put together a 43-3 beatdown of Wake Forest, Winston wasn’t
exactly at his best, completing just 59 percent of his passes with an
interception, but he threw for 297 yards and a score while rushing in another
touchdown. Winston will need to play a lot better if he wants voters to forget
about his bone-headed suspension against Clemson a few weeks back, but with
the Seminoles on a clear path to the College Football Playoff in a weak ACC,
the reigning winner will be in a strong position to play himself back into
the race.

Dropped Out: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor; Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Honorable Mention: Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss; Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU; Connor
Halliday, QB, Washington State