Heisman Watch: Dak Prescott's run gives race a new leader

Mike Huguenin has spent more than 30 years in sports journalism, many of them closely associated with college football. As a longtime Heisman Trophy voter and one who will cast his ballot again at the end of this season, Huguenin takes a weekly look at the Heisman race.

HEISMAN WATCH 2014:Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

For the second time this season, a top Heisman contender has been suspended, and the race for the award has taken on even more intrigue.

Georgia tailback Todd Gurley, who was atop this list last week, has been suspended indefinitely, and he has been removed from the list while he is under suspension. Earlier this season, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended. But that was for one game, and when -- and even if -- Gurley returns remains a question.

Gurley's absence means Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott moves into the top spot, with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota second. Truthfully, right now, they are the only two truly strong contenders, and getting to 10 candidates this week was a chore.

Here are the top 10 contenders, from 10th to first, this week, as this Heisman voter sees them. Remember that each of the past four and 12 of the past 14 winners have been quarterbacks; the only non-quarterbacks were running backs Mark Ingram of Alabama in 2009 and Reggie Bush of USC in 2005.

Not a first-rounder

Bryce Petty was a hero Saturday, leading Baylor to a stunning comeback win over TCU. Daniel Jeremiah sees some concerning flaws in his game, though. **More ...**

10. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

Season stats: 101-of-178 passing, 56.7 completion percentage, 1,534 yards, 15 TDs, 3 interceptions, 109 rushing yards.
Saturday's stats: 28-of-55, 50.9 completion percentage, 510 yards, 6 TDs, 2 interceptions in 61-58 win over TCU.
The skinny: Petty was uneven for much of the day Saturday; then came the fourth quarter, when he had a Heisman-like performance in rallying the Bears from a 21-point deficit. Petty led the Bears on four scoring drives in the period, including ones that covered 91 and 92 yards. Touchdown passes finished off both of those long drives, during which Petty was 6-of-6 for 113 yards. For this week, that kind of performance gets Heisman watch-list mention.

9. RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana

Season stats: 120 carries, 1,060 rushing yards, 11 TDs, 15 receptions, 134 yards.
Saturday's stats: 15 carries, 219 yards, 3 TDs in 45-29 loss to Iowa.
The skinny: The guy has zero shot at the Heisman. But he leads the nation in rushing yards (1,060) and in rushing yards per game (176.7), and is tied for third with 11 rushing TDs. He also is averaging an amazing 8.8 yards per carry; 42 players have had at least 100 rushing attempts this season, and Coleman's per-carry average is the best by almost a full yard. cfbstats.com shows that he has 11 carries of at least 30 yards (tied for national lead), nine of at least 40 (leads the nation) and four of at least 60 (leads the nation). Coleman has had eight consecutive 100-yard games dating to last season, the longest such streak in the nation; he also has had 15 consecutive games with a rushing TD, which also is the longest such streak in the nation. His 11 TDs this season have averaged 36 yards.

8. QB Shane Carden, East Carolina

Season stats: 166-of-252 passing, 65.9 completion percentage, 2,129 yards, 16 TDs, 4 interceptions, 73 rushing yards, 3 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 24-of-33, 72.7 completion percentage, 250 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception in 28-17 win over USF.
The skinny: East Carolina could be the Cinderella team among the non-Power Five conferences this season, and -- as with Fresno State's Derek Carr and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch last season -- Carden could be the quarterback who benefits from the attention. In three games this season against Power Five opponents (North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia Tech), Carden threw for 1,186 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions. Carden, who is seventh nationally in passing yards per game (354.8), should put up big numbers the next few weeks against overmatched AAC opponents.

7. QB Bo Wallace, Mississippi

Season stats: 124-of-181 passing, 68.5 completion percentage, 1,700 yards, 15 TDs, 6 interceptions, 89 rushing yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 13-of-19, 68.4 completion percentage, 178 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions, 50 rushing yards, 2 TDs in 35-20 win over Texas A&M.
The skinny: Wallace doesn't have eye-popping stats, but he has played impressive and steady football the past two weeks in big wins over Alabama and Texas A&M. He has a penchant for making some head-scratchingly bad plays at times, but he has been mistake-free the past two weeks -- a big reason Ole Miss beat the Tide and the Aggies, and now is in a position to win the SEC West title. He is averaging 298.2 yards of total offense per game.

6. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

Season stats: 126-of-180 passing, 70.0 completion percentage, 1,605 passing yards, 11 TDs, 5 interceptions, 2 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 30-of-36, 83.3 completion percentage, 317 yards, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions in 38-20 win over Syracuse.
The skinny: Negative news continues to pile up around Winston -- including reports by the New York Times and FOXSports.com blasting police and the university in how they handled investigations involving Winston -- but he seems to have a preternatural ability to shrug it off. Barring some collapses by a handful of top players, Winston isn't going to win the Heisman again; one storyline for later in the season is whether he even will be a finalist. But he improved to 19-0 as a starter with Saturday's win. The 30 completions Saturday were a career high; the 36 attempts were the fourth-most of his career. In addition, his 83.3 completion percentage was tied for the third-highest in his career and was his best of the season.

5. QB Everett Golson, Notre Dame

Season stats: 135-of-216 passing, 62.5 completion percentage, 1,683 yards, 16 TDs, 4 interceptions, 209 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 21-of-38, 55.3 completion percentage, 300 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception, 71 rushing yards in 50-43 win over North Carolina.
The skinny: Golson had the third 300-yard day of his career in the tougher-than-expected win over North Carolina. He has accounted for 20 TDs this season, two more than he did in all of 2012, when he led the Irish to the BCS national championship game. But Golson also committed three turnovers, giving him nine in the past three games. He and the Irish have a huge game next weekend at Florida State. Whether Golson has a legit Heisman chance likely will be determined by how well he plays in Tallahassee.

4. TB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Season stats: 138 carries, 878 rushing yards, 10 TDs, 7 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: Nebraska was off.
The skinny: His 10 rushing TDs are sixth-most nationally -- and one more than he had all of last season. He is fourth nationally in rushing yards and fourth in yards per game (146.3). As for durability, he is seventh in the nation in rushing attempts per game (23.0), and his 24 attempts in his most recent game against Michigan State marked the fourth time this season and 17th time in his career he has carried at least 20 times in a game.

3. TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Season stats: 132 carries, 1,046 rushing yards, 13 TDs, 6 receptions, 27 yards, 1 TD.
Saturday's stats: 27 carries, 175 rushing yards, 4 TDs in 38-28 win over Illinois.
The skinny: Gordon reached the 1,000-yard plateau faster than any back in school history with his performance Saturday, which also was his second four-TD day of the season (he rushed for five against Bowling Green). It was his fourth consecutive game with at least 175 yards, and the 27 carries tied for the second-most in his career. In the past three games, he has 86 attempts, 615 yards and seven TDs. For the season, Gordon is averaging 7.9 yards per carry.

2. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Season stats: 108-of-155 passing, 69.7 completion percentage, 1,621 yards, 17 TDs, 0 interceptions, 290 rushing yards, 5 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 17-of-27, 63.0 completion percentage, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 75 rushing yards, 2 TDs in 42-30 win over UCLA.
The skinny: Mariota and the Ducks bounced back from a loss to Arizona with a dominating performance at UCLA; Oregon led 42-10 before UCLA scored three times to make it semi-respectable. The 75 rushing yards was a season-high total. Mariota has thrown at least two TD passes in every game this season, and he is the only one of the 76 quarterbacks nationally with at least 155 passing attempts not to have thrown an interception. He is second nationally in yards per attempt (10.5) and leads the nation in quarterback rating; in addition, his 17 TD passes are tied for 10th-most nationally. He is averaging 9.37 yards per play, the highest in the nation for any player who has been involved in at least 50 plays. His career TD-to-interception ratio is an incredible 81-to-10.

1. QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Season stats: 96-of-156 passing, 61.5 completion percentage, 1,478 yards, 14 TDs, 4 interceptions, 576 rushing yards, 8 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 18-of-34, 52.9 completion percentage, 246 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions, 121 rushing yards, 2 TDs in 38-23 win over Auburn.
The skinny: Prescott wasn't all that sharp as a passer Saturday, but his running continually flummoxed Auburn's defense in a huge SEC West win for the Bulldogs. It was his fourth 100-yard rushing day of the season. His 34 passing attempts were a season high and the second-most in a game in his career. Prescott is ninth nationally in total offense (342.3 yards per game), and his per-play average of 7.84 yards is third-highest nationally among players with at least 250 plays. He is tied for the national lead in rushing TDs by a quarterback.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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