Heisman Rankings: Week 7

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – With a suspension dropping one former
favorite from the ranks, quarterbacks dominate the upper half of this list as
the Heisman Trophy picture begins to get clearer near the season’s halfway

1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 1) — The top-ranked
Bulldogs’ early season run is perhaps the most unlikely story in a college
football season full of crazy twists and turns, and Prescott shoulders the
majority of the credit. Mississippi State has downed a top-10 opponent in
three straight weeks, including a 38-23 triumph over No. 2 Auburn over the
weekend. Prescott struggled at times against a stingy Tigers’ defense,
completing less than 53 percent of his passes (18-of-34) and tossing two
interceptions, but overall he was outstanding with 246 passing yards, 121
rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs will enjoy a bit of a break
in their schedule in the coming weeks with contests against Kentucky, Arkansas
and UT Martin, where Prescott will try to improve upon his gaudy numbers
passing yards, 576 rushing yards, 22 TDs) before being put to the test again
late in the season with road bouts at Alabama (Nov. 15) and Ole Miss (Nov.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 3) — After the Ducks stumbled
with a home loss against Arizona two weeks ago, they bounced back in a big way
with a 42-20 road triumph at nationally ranked UCLA to put themselves back in
the national picture. Mariota was predictably outstanding, throwing for 210
yards and two touchdowns while adding 75 yards and two more scores on the
ground. With mounting problems on defense and the offensive line, this Oregon
squad is not the program’s most talented of the past few seasons, and it will
have a difficult time navigating through the remainder of a tough Pac-12
schedule, but even with sky-high expectations, Mariota has played even better
than anyone could have envisioned coming into the season, completing greater
than 70 percent of his throws, piling up 1,937 total yards, scoring 23
touchdowns and having yet to throw an interception.

3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (last week: unranked) — After a disappointing
effort on Oct. 4 at Texas (7-of-22, 111 yards), Petty fell from the list a
week ago but managed to make up for lost time in a marquee, top-10 shootout
versus TCU. Petty only managed to complete 50.9 percent of his passes (28-
of-55), but he tossed a career-high 510 yards and six touchdowns, with three
of those scores coming in the fourth quarter as the Bears erased a 21-point
deficit to down the Horned Frogs, 61-58. It’s been an up-and-down campaign for
Petty, who missed time early in the year with a back injury, but Baylor is a
top-5 program and appears to be the best the Big 12 has to offer, and if he
continue his current pace (1,534 passing yards, 18 TDs, three interceptions),
not only will the Bears be in line for a berth in the College Football Playoff
but the signal caller will have a strong case to be a Heisman finalist.

4. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 7) — With Todd Gurley’s
status for the rest of the season up in the air, Gordon has taken over the
throne as college football’s best tailback. Gordon led the Badgers to a 38-28
home victory over Illinois with yet another excellent performance, turning 27
carries into 175 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound junior is
now the nation’s second-leading rusher (1,046 yards, behind only Indiana’s
Tevin Coleman with 1,060) thanks to an incredible run over the past four games
(868 yards, 12 TDs) when he’s become the first player to rush for at least 175
yards in four straight since UCF’s Kevin Smith in 2007. Wisconsin’s
championship aspirations are nothing more than a pipe dream, but with a back
talented as Gordon, that distinction will only hurt his stock so much.

5. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (last week: unranked) — Prescott isn’t the only
undefeated signal caller in the Magnolia State, and it’s about time Wallace
received some credit for what he’s done with the Rebels, who have asserted
themselves as one of the nation’s best with back-to-back wins over Alabama
(23-17) and Texas A&M (35-20). Although Ole Miss was aided by a pair of
defensive touchdowns in its victory at A&M this past Saturday, Wallace was
nonetheless outstanding in upstaging the Aggies’ high-flying offense by
completing 13-of-19 passes for 178 yards, rushing for an additional 50 yards
and accounting for three touchdowns without committing a turnover. Wallace is
one of the nation’s most accurate passers (68.5 completion percentage), he’s
scored 17 touchdowns (two rushing), and since throwing three interceptions in
the season opener, he’s tossed just three picks in the five games and 145
attempts since.

6. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (last week: No. 4) — The good news for the
Fighting Irish is they are still undefeated after escaping a home contest with
North Carolina with a 50-43 victory after trailing late in the third quarter.
The bad news is their quarterback has had difficulty holding on to the
football. With an interception and a fumble against UNC, Golson has eight
turnovers in his last three contests after giving the ball away zero
times in the first three games. Luckily Golson helped shield his miscues with
300 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win, giving
him 20 total scores on the season, but there’s no doubt Golson’s play under
center will need to improve greatly if Notre Dame is to continue as one of the
nation’s best.

7. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (last week: No. 10) — Stop me if you’ve
heard this before, but Winston found himself in the headlines for all the
wrong reasons late last week when a report said FSU and the Tallahassee,
Florida, police took steps in hindering a criminal investigation of Winston
back in 2013 following the allegations that he sexually assaulted a student.
Winston will face a disciplinary hearing that could decide the fate of his
future at the university, and it’s likely Heisman voters have grown tired of
the former winner’s situation, making his repeat chances incredibly slim, but
the results on the field are still there. Winston had his best game of the
season in a 38-20 win over Syracuse, completing 30-of-36 passes for 317 yards,
three touchdowns and zero interceptions, and the Seminoles have now won 22 in
row and are 19-0 with Winston starting under center.

8. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 6) — After tallying at least
eight catches and 91 yards in each of his first five games, Cooper had his
first dud of the season in Alabama’s narrow, 14-13 road victory over Arkansas
by recording just 22 yards on two receptions. The Razorbacks made it a point
to focus heavily on Cooper, but the rest of the Crimson Tide offense could not
step up, as they amassed just 227 yards. Although any win in the SEC Western
Division is a good one, especially on the road, Alabama is definitely
vulnerable on offense, meaning that Cooper’s electric pace (54 receptions, 768
yards, five TDs) could start to slow down as defenses begin to catch up with
the Tide’s game plan.

9. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (last week: No. 8) — Abdullah lost some
momentum (as well his FBS high in rushing yards) with the Cornhuskers’ bye
week, and his effort against a stout Michigan State defense on Oct. 4 was
forgettable (24 carries, 45 yards), but it’s hard to argue with the back’s
production through six games, as he’s rushed for 878 yards, added 130
receiving and scored 12 total touchdowns. Abdullah returns to action this week
against Northwestern, which allows only 145.7 rushing yards per game.

10. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (last week: No. 5) — Marshall set a poor tone
early in Auburn’s loss to Mississippi State by tossing an interception on the
team’s first drive, and while he brought the Tigers back to within one score
of the lead late in the game, he could not overcome the team’s four turnovers
and his off-target passing afternoon (17-of-35). He managed to turn 17 carries
into 100 yards, marking the fourth time he’s crossed the century mark on the
ground this season and leaving his yearly totals at 492 rushing yards, 964
rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Marshall’s and the Tigers’ stock are down,
but one loss in the SEC is hardly a death sentence. They’ll need to be
practically flawless down the stretch if they want a chance at the SEC
Championship Game, which will be tough with contests versus South Carolina,
Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still on the docket.

Dropped out: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (last week: No. 2) — The NCAA can be
pretty backward sometimes, as Winston continues to play in the wake of his
investigation yet Gurley is suspended indefinitely for reportedly making money
off his likeness, but the rules are the rules, and Gurley certainly isn’t
blameless in the act that could possibly cost him his season. Gurley (773
yards, 8.2 yards per carry, nine TDs) was on the fast track to being a Heisman
finalist and had a great chance at winning the award prior to this setback.
We’ll learn more about his status in the coming days, but we might not see
Gurley again until he’s suiting up on Sundays as a high NFL draft pick.

Also dropped out: Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M

Honorable Mention: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana; Kevin White, WR, West Virginia;
Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State; Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State.