Marcus Mariota is back on top of the watch and Georgia RB Todd Gurley is out of the top five in this weeks XN Sports Heisman Watch.
Mariota continues to put up big numbers while leading Oregon back into the national playoff picture. Gurley will likely be sidelined until Georgia meets Auburn in a couple weeks and by that time he will have missed four games and fallen behind the field.
Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott remains near the top of the watch list while Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon joins it.
XN Sports will take a look each week at who is in the Heisman running, who is knocking on the door, and who is under the radar but deserves a long look.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – Mariota threw for five touchdowns in a 59-41 victory over California. He threw his first interception of the season (and first since the Oregon State game last season) but it came on a ball that was deflected twice. For the season Mariota and has throw for 2,283 yards and 24 TDs with the lone interception while rushing for five more scores. Mariota has plenty of opportunities to shine coming up as well with the Ducks facing Stanford (#2 in scoring and total defense) this weekend and with games against a ranked Utah squad and the Pac-12 Championship game remaining.
Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott – Prescott threw a TD pass and ran for two more scored but also threw his third interception in his last two games as Mississippi outlasted Kentucky. Prescott has thrown for 1,694 yards with 15 TDs and five interceptions and has added 664 yards rushing and 10 TDs. He also has high-profile games left with Arkansas on Saturday, Alabama and Ole Miss that could set him apart from the field.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston – The Seminoles have won a school-record 23 straight games and Winston has won 20 straight starts to begin his college career, the most by an FBS quarterback since 2000 and he has a good chance to run that streak to 25 heading into the ACC Championship Game. Thursday night's game at Louisville could be Florida State's toughest test until it reaches the playoffs as the Cardinals defense is ranked first in the nation in total defense at 245.8 yards allowed per game and is third in scoring defense (14.6). Big numbers against the Louisville defense would go a long way toward bolstering Winston's Heisman hopes.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson – Golson is now 16-2 as a starter in South Bend with his only losses coming against Alabama in the BCS Title game and Saturday at Florida State. He and the Irish are back on the field for the first times since their tough 31-27 loss in Tallahassee against Florida State. Saturday's game against Navy is in prime time and in Landover, Md. and will give Golson and the Irish a chance to impress Heisman voters and playoff committee voters. Golson also has big games remaining against Arizona State, Louisville, and USC.
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon – Gordon ranks fourth in the country in rushing yards with 1,168 yards and has 16 rushing TDs, good for third in the country in seven games. He is second in the nation in rushing yards per game (166.9) and has one TD reception this season. With five more games to play, including Saturday at Rutgers, Gordon has a great shot at a 2,000-yard season.
Keep an eye on: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah, Auburn QB Nick Marshall, Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett and Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Georgia RB Todd Gurley, who would be in the top-5 if not for the autograph incident and the NCAA tacking on two more games to his suspension.
Darkhorse Candidates: Ole Miss defensive back Senquez Golson has eight interceptions in eight games and has returned on for a TD. He is tied for the lead in INTs with Gerod Holliman of Louisville and only 39 TEAMS have more interceptions this season. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato is sixth in the country in points responsible for with 150 and he has throw 20 TD passes to go along with five rushing TDs. If he keeps the Thundering Herd unbeaten and in contention for a New Year's Day bowl game he could earn a trip to New York as a finalist considering Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was one of six Heisman finalists a year ago.
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