Heisman Rankings: Week 9

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – While the names at the top are becoming
familiar, there’s a changing of the guard in the Heisman Trophy rankings this
week because the former favorite has regained his position at No. 1.

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 2) — With the sting of Oregon’s
Oct. 2 loss to Arizona beginning to fade away, it’s time to start considering
Mariota as the front-runner for the award once again. The Ducks’ defense proved
to be vulnerable yet again this past weekend, but it didn’t matter thanks to
another masterful performance from Mariota as they captured a 59-41 triumph at
Cal. The signal caller had one blip on the night with his first interception of
the season (a pass that was tipped twice), but the 326 passing yards and five
touchdowns easily made up for that. The milestones keep piling up for Mariota,
who has 30 total touchdowns in eight games. He’s now the program’s all-time
leader in passing yards (8,625), eclipsing Bill Musgrave’s previous mark. He’s
also thrown at least one touchdown in every appearance of his career (33
games) and has tossed multiple scores in eight straight games, the longest
active streak in the country.

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 1) — After holding to
the No. 1 spot on this list through the Bulldogs’ bye, Prescott dips slightly
this week, which had less to do with his performance than it did with
Mariota’s continued dominance. The No. 1 Bulldogs were challenged at Kentucky
over the weekend but still managed to escape with a two-touchdown victory
(45-31), and the offensive output was spearheaded by another strong showing by
Prescott, who threw for 216 yards, ran for 88 and scored three touchdowns. It
wasn’t the signal caller’s sharpest outing – he completed less than 55 percent
of his passes and tossed just his fifth interception of the season – but it’s
hardly a reason to worry, especially on the road in the SEC, where nothing ever
comes easily.

3. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (last week: No. 3) — Abdullah’s incredible
season reached new heights in the Cornhuskers’ 42-24 triumph over Rutgers. Not
only did he rush for 225 yards on just 19 carries – his fourth 200-yard rushing
performance of the season – but he added 90 kick return yards and 26 receiving
for a school-record 341 all-purpose yards, which was also the highest total in
the FBS this season. Abdullah has been outstanding all season, as indicative of
his nation-leading 1,249 rushing yards, but his run over the past five games
has been particularly sensational, scoring 15 touchdowns over that time to up
his season total to 19. The tailback’s illustrious career already includes
owning the top spot on Nebraska’s all-purpose yards list (6,604), and adding a
Heisman Trophy to his list of accolades isn’t out of the question.

4. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 4) — After a brief hiccup in
early October, Cooper has returned to his torrid pace in recent weeks to
clearly establish himself as the nation’s most dominant receiver. His season
reached a new, historic plateau in Alabama’s 34-20 win at Tennessee, as he
caught nine passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, breaking Julio Jones’
previous single-game receiving yardage record of 221 (Cooper also has the
program’s fourth-best total with 201 yards versus Florida earlier this
season). Despite being the only viable receiving threat on the Crimson Tide –
no one else has more than 23 catches – Cooper has been no less uncoverable, as
he ranks in the top three in the FBS in receptions (71), yards (1,132) and
touchdowns (nine).

5. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 6) — Gordon may have lost
some ground in the race as the nation’s best running back thanks to the
monster performance by Abdullah, but he still earned a slight bump on this list
thanks to yet another stellar showing in Wisconsin’s 52-7 victory over
Maryland. The workhorse tailback had 22 carries for 122 yards – his sixth
100-yard rushing performance in seven games this season – and scored three
touchdowns to give him 17 on the season. Gordon is the nation’s fourth-leading
rusher with 1,168 yards, and he’s right in line with the pace he set last year
as a timeshare back (7.8 yards per carry in 2013, 7.6 in 2014). With five more
regular-season games, a possible Big Ten Championship appearance and a bowl
game still left, the tailback has a great chance of topping 2,000 yards.

6. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (last week: No. 5) — The reigning winner
is doing his best to make voters forget about his litany of off-the-field
issues with continued great play, leading the No. 2 Seminoles, especially in
the second half of the team’s signature victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 18.
With a modest 13 touchdown passes, it appears Winston will fall well short of
the 40 scores he tossed as a freshman, but he’s shown improvement elsewhere
with an outstanding 70.6 completion percentage (third-best in the nation).

7. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (last week: unranked) — The Horned Frogs’ signal
caller was on the radar a few weeks back with an honorable mention, but he
clearly asserted himself as a worthy contender with this weekend’s incredible
performance in his team’s 82-27 rout of Texas Tech. In TCU’s highest-scoring
game in school history, Boykin threw for a career-high 433 yards, a school-
record seven touchdowns (the same amount he threw during the entire 2013
campaign) and zero interceptions. The outing was hardly an anomaly for Boykin,
as he’s racked up 2,306 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with just three picks
to go with 374 rushing yards and three more scores for a top-10 TCU squad
looking to make a push for the Big 12 championship.

8. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (last week: No. 9) — Even on Notre Dame’s
bye week coming off a heartbreaking loss to Florida State, Golson managed to
creep up a spot in the rankings. Although his numbers are still very much
worthy (1,996 passing yards, 239 rushing yards, 23 TDs), he has to show
significant improvement and cut down on his turnovers (10 in the last four
games) down the stretch if he wants to be considered a favorite once again.
He’ll have plenty of chances for the one-loss Fighting Irish as they compete
for a bid in the College Football Playoff with marquee matchups versus Arizona
State and USC still to come.

9. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss (last week: No. 7) — Losing to LSU in Death
Valley is unstandable, but when you’re one of the front-runners to win the SEC
Western Division like Ole Miss, it’s definitely a disappointment. The Rebels’
10-7 loss to the Tigers dropped them a game behind Mississippi State in the
race for the SEC championship game berth, and Wallace’s underwhelming showing
was unfortunately a big reason for the setback. For the second straight week,
he completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14-of-33), finishing with 176
yards, a touchdown and an interception. One poor performance can’t erase a
season’s worth of strong ones, however. Wallace has still be outstanding (2,075
passing yards, 18 TDs, seven interceptions; 162 rushing yards, two TDs), and
the Rebels are far from out of it with a matchups against Auburn and rival MSU
still on tap.

10. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (last week: unranked) — Marshall lost a lot of
momentum with Auburn’s Oct. 11 loss to Mississippi State rolling right into
its bye week, but the squad used that time off to recuperate nicely. The No. 5
Tigers downed South Carolina, 42-35, over the weekend, thanks in no small
measure to Marshall’s near-flawless showing. The signal caller was on point
with 12-of-14 passing for 139 yards and a touchdown to go with 89 yards and
three more scores on the ground, finishing the win with a QBR of 99.0. Marshall
and his 18 touchdowns will have another marquee game to prove himself in the
aforementioned bout with Ole Miss in Oxford this week.

Dropped Out: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia; Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Honorable Mention: Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall; Clint Trickett, QB, West
Virginia; Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana; Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss