Skip to main content

Heisman Watch: Todd Gurley leads, Dak Prescott now in race

Editor's note: This story was published prior to Georgia's announcement that Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely after an alleged NCAA violation.

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

The wild, wild weekend led to a mild shakeup in this week's Heisman watch list.

The new No. 1 on the list is Georgia tailback Todd Gurley, with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota dropping one spot to No. 2. Mariota wasn't his usual razor-sharp self in the Ducks' loss to Arizona; of course, playing behind a porous line doesn't help matters for Mariota, who was sacked five times in the upset loss to the Wildcats.

Gurley, meanwhile, ran and passed(!) Georgia to a win over Vanderbilt.

New to the watch list is Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who was a one-man wrecking crew against Texas A&M. While he moves in, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill drops out; Hill will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg suffered in the Cougars' loss to rival Utah State on Friday night.

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 Brett Hundley, UCLA

Season stats: 91-of-125 passing, 72.8 completion percentage, 1,310 yards, 9 TDs, 2 interceptions, 122 rushing yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 16-of-21, 76.2 completion percentage, 269 yards, 1 TDs, 1 interception in 30-28 loss to Utah.
The skinny: Hundley was sacked 10 times in the Bruins' loss. When he had time, he was on-target and was able to hurt the Utes' secondary. But, man, that line. And get this: As mobile as Hundley is, he has been sacked 22 times already this season. Yes, the line has issues, but Hundley has to share the blame. He and the Bruins have a huge Pac-12 game next Saturday, when Oregon comes to town. The teams that were expected to win their respective Pac-12 divisions suddenly will be playing a game in which they will be trying to keep their division title hopes alive.

9. QB Kenny Hill, Texas A&M

Season stats: 155-of-242 passing, 64.0 completion percentage, 2,110 yards, 21 TDs, 5 interceptions, 171 rushing yards.
Saturday's stats: 37-of-62, 59.7 completion percentage, 365 yards, 4 TDs, 3 interceptions, 35 rushing yards in 48-31 loss to Mississippi State.
The skinny: Hill struggled with his accuracy but also was plagued by numerous drops; the drops certainly didn't cost the Aggies the game, but had the catches been made, the outcome likely would've been closer. It was his fourth four-TD game of the season, but he also threw more interceptions against the Bulldogs than he had in the previous five games combined. The yardage total was his third-highest of the season. He is third in the nation in TD passes and is sixth in passing yards per game (351.7). Hill and the Aggies play host to Mississippi next weekend, and they need to win to remain in the SEC West division race. Ole Miss leads the SEC in pass defense (152.4 yards per game) and has allowed a nation's-low one TD pass.

8. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State

Season stats: 96-of-144 passing, 66.7 completion percentage, 1,288 passing yards, 8 TDs, 5 interceptions, 2 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 23-of-39, 59.0 completion percentage, 297 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception, 36 rushing yards, 1 TD in 43-3 win over Wake Forest.
The skinny: 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 18-0 as a starter with Saturday's yawner over Wake Forest. The 39 attempts were the second-most in his career and he has thown at least one TD pass in all 15 games he has played. Winston is one of 34 quarterbacks nationally averaging at least 35 passing attempts per game, and he is fifth in that group in completion percentage and second in yards per attempt.

7. TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Season stats: 105 carries, 871 rushing yards, 9 TDs, 5 receptions, 27 yards, 1 TD.
Saturday's stats: 27 carries, 259 rushing yards, 2 TD in 20-14 loss to Northwestern.
The skinny: Gordon had his second 200-yard game of the season in the surprising loss to Northwestern (how does a team have a tailback rush for 259 yards, yet score just 14 points?), and the 259 yards were a career high. The 27 carries was the second-most in his career. Gordon is averaging 8.3 yards per carry, which is the highest average among players with at least 80 carries, and shows that he leads the nation with eight runs of at least 30 yards, seven runs of at least 40 yards and five runs of at least 50 yards

6. QB Everett Golson, Notre Dame

Season stats: 114-of-178 passing, 64.0 completion percentage, 1,383 yards, 13 TDs, 3 interceptions, 138 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs.
Saturday's stats: 20-of-43, 46.5 completion percentage, 241 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception, 34 rushing yards in 17-14 win over Stanford.
The skinny: Golson had one of the poorest games of his career when it comes to completion percentage, but he also guided the Irish on a game-winning TD drive and tossed the winning TD pass on a fourth-and-11 play with a bit more than a minute left. The 43 attempts were a career high, and his two TD passes give him 13 this season -- one more than he had in 2012, when he led the Irish to the national title game. Golson also committed two turnovers, giving him six in the past two games. Still, guiding a game-winning scoring drive in the waning minutes against the Stanford defense is noteworthy -- and Heisman worthy.

5. WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

Season stats: 52 receptions, 746 yards, 14.4 yards per catch, 5 touchdowns.
Saturday's stats: 9 catches, 91 yards in 23-17 loss to Mississippi.
The skinny: Cooper leads the nation in receptions per game (10.4), but his streak of 120-yard games was snapped at six in the loss to the Rebels. It's difficult for a wide receiver to win the Heisman, especially if he doesn't return kicks, but Cooper's numbers have him in the race -- at least for now. TDs and 100-yard games -- not to mention some splash plays -- are going to be needed in the second half of the season for him to stay in the Heisman hunt.

4. TB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Season stats: 138 carries, 878 rushing yards, 10 TDs, 7 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 24 carries, 45 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 2 receptions, 22 yards in 27-22 loss to Michigan State.
The skinny: His 200-yard game streak was snapped at two, as the Spartans' run defense bottled up Abdullah. But he still managed to score twice, and his 10 rushing TDs are second-most nationally -- and one more than he had all of last season. He leads the nation in rushing yards and is 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 against Illinois were the fourth time this season and 17th time in his career he has carried at least 20 times in a game. In addition, his per-carry average of 6.4 yards is the highest among the 13 backs averaging more than 21 carries per game and the third-highest among the 21 backs averaging at least 19 carries per game. But he can't afford many (any?) more sub-100-yard outings if he wants to remain in the Heisman conversation.

3. QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Season stats: 77-of-121 passing, 63.6 completion percentage, 1,223 yards, 13 TDs, 2 interceptions, 455 rushing yards, 6 TDs.
Saturday's stats: 19-of-25, 76.0 completion percentage, 259 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions, 77 rushing yards, 3 TDs in 48-31 win over Texas A&M.
The skinny: Prescott accounted for five TDs and guided the Bulldogs' offense with aplomb in the win over Texas A&M -- as big a win as any in recent Bulldogs history. Prescott is ninth nationally in total offense (335.6 yards per game) and is tied for second nationally in rushing TDs by a quarterback. He is tied for 18th in TD passes and he has the fewest attempts among those quarterbacks; in addition, he is sixth nationally in the NCAA's complicated quarterback ratings formula. He can make more national noise next week when the Bulldogs square off against Auburn.

2. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Season stats: 91-of-128 passing, 71.1 completion percentage, 1,411 yards, 15 TDs, 0 interceptions, 215 rushing yards, 3 TDs.
Thursday's stats: 20-of-32, 62.5 completion percentage, 276 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing yard in 31-24 loss to Arizona.
The skinny: Mariota has been sacked 12 times in the past two games and hit on numerous other plays, and the beating is taking its toll. Oregon is struggling to run consistently and the offense as a whole is suffering. Mariota still has not thrown an interception this season, though: He is one of 77 quarterbacks who have thrown for 1,000 yards, and he is one of two in that group who hasn't thrown a pick. He is second nationally in yards per attempt and leads the nation in quarterback rating; in addition, his 15 TD passes are tied for eighth-most nationally. He is averaging 9.56 yards per play, the highest in the nation for any player who has been involved in at least 100 plays. His career TD-to-interception ratio is an incredible 79-to-10. The Ducks play at UCLA next Saturday in a must-win game for both teams in terms of the national playoff picture.

1. TB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Season stats: 94 carries, 773 rushing yards, 8 TDs, 11 receptions, 53 yards, 50 passing yards, 1 kickoff-return TD.
Saturday's stats: 25 carries, 163 yards, 2 TDs, 2 receptions, 24 yards, 50 passing yards in 44-17 win over Vanderbilt.
The skinny: Gurley had 237 all-purpose yards in Saturday's win. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and his third with at least 160 yards, and the 25 carries were the fourth-most in his career. He is sixth nationally in rushing yards and third in yards per game (154.6). Gurley is averaging 8.2 yards per carry, the second-highest among backs with at least 80 carries nationally. He has 3,147 yards in his career and moved into third place on Georgia's career list against Vanderbilt, surpassing Lars Tate (3,017). Next up: No 2 Garrison Hearst, with 3,232 yards. He should move past Hearst next Saturday, when the Bulldogs play Missouri.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content