XN Sports Heisman watch: Marcus Mariota is the early favorite

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Mariota's Mission


With most teams at about the quarter pole of the season it's time to start thinking Heisman candidates. The early crop of contenders features the usual glamour position players from power schools and Oregon's standout QB Marcus Mariota and Georgia's workhorse running back Todd Gurley are among the early favorites.

XN Sports will take a look each week at who is in the running, who is knocking on the door and who is under the radar but deserves a long look.

XN Sports Top 5 Heisman candidates:

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

At the controls of one of college football's most prolific offenses, Mariota will be near the top of any Heisman candidate list until further notice. He's thrown 15 TD passes without an interception and has run for three more scores for the 4-1 Ducks.

Georgia RB Todd Gurley

The last four Heisman winners and nine of the last 10 have been QB's but Gurley could be the back to break that stranglehold. He ran for 208 yards and two TDs on 28 carries in a 35-32 victory over Tennessee last week and has 610 yards and six TDs on 69 carries this season. Gurley is averaging 8.8 yards per carry and his numbers include a six-carry day in Georgia's 66-0 victory over Troy on Sept. 20.

Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill

Hill has made it easy for the Aggie faithful to move on from Johnny Football while thrusting himself into the Heisman conversation with outstanding play. Hill has thrown for 1,745 yards with 17 TDs and two interceptions while doing something Manziel never did in College Station, get the Aggies off to a 5-0 start.

Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah

Already with three games with over 200 yards rushing, Abdullah has racked up 833 yards and eight TDs on the ground this season and also has a pair of receiving TDs. With Nebraska taking on Michigan State in a huge Big Ten clash Saturday night, Abdullah can make a strong case for himself as a front-runner to head to New York.

Florida State QB Jameis Winston

There seems to be a little Winston fatigue going on and with good reason. Unfortunately the first thing you think of when you hear the name is not his on field exploits but his off the field missteps. Winston is on the list because he's the QB for the top-ranked team in the country and because he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. With only seven TD passes and five interceptions this season, Winston will needs a few big games or he'll fall off the list entirely.

Keep an eye on:

Alabama WR Amari Cooper, Baylor QB Bryce Petty, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, Notre Dame QB Everett Golson.

Darkhorse Candidates:

In four games BYU QB Taysom Hill has rushed for seven TDs, thrown for six more and has the Cougars in the conversation as a potential party crasher come playoff time. If BYU keeps winning it will be because of Hill and that conversation will start to include Heisman talk. UCLA DB Ismael Adams has two INTs this season and returned them both for a touchdown and he added a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD in the Bruins' thrashing of Arizona State. Adams leads the Pac-12 in kickoff returns this season, averaging 28.2 yards.


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