Heisman Watch: Marcus Mariota solidifies spot at top

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 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9

Marcus Mariota and Oregon had struggled in each of the past two seasons against Stanford, managing just 34 total points and losing twice.

He and the Ducks got their revenge Saturday, with Mariota accounting for four touchdowns in a 45-16 whipping of the Cardinal. That performance solidified his hold on the top spot on the Heisman Watch list.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who looked to be suffering from the effects of a minor foot injury, remains in the No. 2 spot. He threw for a career-high 331 yards, but he also tossed two picks and the Bulldogs struggled to put away Arkansas.

Those two have a big lead -- at least for now -- on the rest of the field.

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.

10. QB Trevone Boykin, TCU

Season stats: 180-of-316 passing, 57.0 completion percentage, 2,472 yards, 22 TDs, 4 interceptions, 423 rushing yards, 4 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 12-of-30, 40.0 completion percentage, 166 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception, 49 rushing yards, 1 TD in 31-30 win over West Virginia.
The skinny: A week after throwing seven TD passes against Texas Tech, Boykin struggled mightily against WVU in the Horned Frogs' first game this season outside the state of Texas. The flipside: He completed a key pass on the game-winning drive. Think of Saturday as his "mulligan" for the season. Saturday showed that he still has work to do as a passer -- it was his fifth outing this season with a completion percentage of less than 59 percent -- but he also is an exciting player who makes great use of the varied skill-position talent around him. He is fourth nationally in total offense at 361.9 yards per game -- and he also has TCU in the playoff hunt.

9. WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

Season stats: 71 receptions, 1,132 yards, 15.9 yards per catch, 9 TDs.
Saturday's stats: Alabama didn't play over the weekend.
The skinny: Cooper is No. 2 nationally in receiving yards and fourth in receptions per game. He has had six 100-yard games and two 200-yard games this season; he also has had three games with at least two TD receptions and seven with at least eight catches. He is just 56 yards away from breaking D.J. Hall's school career record of 2,923 receiving yards. Also worth noting: Cooper has been held under 100 receiving yards just twice, and Alabama lost one of those games and barely escaped (by one point) in the other. Thus, a case can be made that he is the most important player for the Tide.

8. RB Duke Johnson, Miami (Fla.)

Season stats: 158 carries, 1,213 yards, 9 TDs, 21 receptions, 273 yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 19 carries, 177 yards, 2 TDs, 2 receptions, 49 yards, 1 TD in 47-20 win over North Carolina.
The skinny: Johnson has a string of five consecutive 100-yard games and he has rushed for at least 90 yards in all nine of UM's contests this season. He has averaged 196 yards over the past three games, with a per-carry average of 10.1 in those outings. He is sixth nationally in rushing yards and eighth in rushing yards per game (134.8). Johnson's five 100-yard games this season give him 12 for his career; that is fourth-most in Miami (Fla.) history, trailing Clinton Portis (14), Edgerrin James (14) and Ottis Anderson (13). In addition, Johnson -- like Alabama's Cooper, a Miami native -- is in second place on the school's career rushing list with 3,080 yards; he trails Anderson by 251 yards.

7. RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana

Season stats: 162 carries, 1,300 rushing yards, 11 TDs, 17 receptions, 140 yards.
Saturday's stats: 27 carries, 108 yards in 34-10 loss to Michigan.
The skinny: Coleman is not going to win the Heisman and it's an extreme long shot that he even becomes a finalist. But his numbers remain hard to ignore. He is third nationally in rushing yards and leads in rushing yards per game (162.5); he is tied for 13th with 11 rushing TDs. He also is averaging 8.0 yards per carry on a team that now has no passing game because it is down to its third-string quarterback. cfbstats.com shows that he has 13 carries of at least 30 yards (second in the nation), 10 of at least 40 (tied for the national lead) and five of at least 60 (tied for the national lead). Coleman has had 10 consecutive 100-yard games dating to last season, the longest such streak in the nation. His 11 TDs this season have covered an average of 36 yards.

6. TB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Season stats: 186 carries, 1,250 rushing yards, 17 TDs, 13 receptions, 169 yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 6 carries, 1 yard in 35-14 win over Purdue.
The skinny: Abdullah's Heisman hopes likely were dealt a fatal blow when he suffered a first-quarter knee injury and had to leave the game against Purdue. He is expected back for the Huskies' next game, Nov. 15 against Wisconsin. He is fifth in the nation in rushing yards and seventh in rushing yards per game (138.9). He has had four 200-yard games this season, which leads the nation, and has hit the 100-yard mark six times. His 17 rushing TDs are third-most nationally -- and eight more than he had all of last season. He is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and also leads the nation at 187.9 all-purpose yards per game.

5. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

Season stats: 174-of-259 passing, 67.2 completion percentage, 2,279 passing yards, 16 TDs, 9 interceptions, 2 rushing TDs.
Thursday's stats: 25-of-48, 52.1 completion percentage, 401 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions in 42-31 win over Louisville.
The skinny: While his 52.1 completion percentage against Louisville was the lowest of his career and the three picks were his most in one game, he rallied FSU from a 21-7 halftime deficit with a big second half. The yardage total was the second-highest of his career and marked the fourth time this season he threw for at least 317 yards in a game. He is sixth nationally in passing yards per game, at 325.6; he finished 13th last season (289.8). He is 13th in the nation at 8.8 yards per attempt, but he is the only quarterback in the top 15 in that category nationally averaging as many as 35 attempts per game. If voters can overlook his off-field issues, his play definitely deserves Heisman consideration. That seems to be a big "if."

4. QB Everett Golson, Notre Dame

Season stats: 184-of-293 passing, 62.8 completion percentage, 2,311 yards, 22 TDs, 7 interceptions, 275 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 18-of-25, 72.0 completion percentage, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception, 33 rushing yards, 3 TDs in 49-39 win over Navy.
The skinny: Golson accounted for six TDs in Saturday's victory, and became the first Irish player to both throw and run for three TDs in a game. Golson now has accounted for 31 TDs this season, 13 more than he did in all of 2012, when he led the Irish to the BCS national championship game. Golson is 11th nationally in total offense, at 322.9 yards per game. Golson has thrown three TD passes in three consecutive games; he also has done it five times this season. The passing-yardage total was his second-highest of the season and third-highest of his career. It also was his fourth 300-yard game this season, including his third in a row.

3. TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Season stats: 173 carries, 1,296 rushing yards, 18 TDs, 8 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD.
Saturday's stats: 19 carries, 128 yards, 2 TDs in 37-0 win over Rutgers.
The skinny: Saturday's outing was his seventh with 100 yards this season and his sixth in a row. It was the third in a row with at least two rushing touchdowns and the fifth such game this season. Gordon is fourth nationally in rushing yards and second in yards per game (162.0); he also is second in rushing touchdowns. Gordon is averaging 7.5 yards per carry, which is first nationally among the 20 players with at least 165 attempts.

2. QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Season stats: 132-of-216 passing, 61.1 completion percentage, 2,025 yards, 16 TDs, 7 interceptions, 725 rushing yards, 10 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 18-of-27, 66.7 completion percentage, 331 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions, 61 rushing yards in 17-10 win over Arkansas.
The skinny: Prescott set a career-high with his passing total Saturday, and the completion percentage was his third-highest of the season. He also set a career-high with 392 total yards. He is seventh nationally in total offense (343.8 yards per game). He has had four 100-yard rushing days this season and is tied for third nationally in rushing TDs by a quarterback. Prescott has accounted for at least 300 yards of total offense in each game, and is the offensive focal point of one of just three unbeaten teams remaining.

1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Season stats: 169-of-248 passing, 68.1 completion percentage, 2,541 yards, 26 TDs, 2 interceptions, 410 rushing yards, 7 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 19-of-30 passing, 63.3 completion percentage, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception, 85 rushing yards, 2 TDs in 45-16 win over Stanford.
The skinny: Mariota has accounted for at least four TDs in six games this season and has thrown at least two TD passes in every outing. Saturday's rushing total was his highest of the season, and it was the third time this season he rushed for two TDs in a game. He is third nationally in TD passes, leads the nation in quarterback rating and is 10th in total offense at 327.9 yards per game. He is one of 20 players averaging at least 300 yards of total offense per game, and his per-play average of 9.3 is a staggering 1.1 yards more than any of the others. His career TD-to-interception ratio is an incredible 90-to-12.

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

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