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XN Sports Heisman watch: Close call between Mariota, Gordon

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The Heisman push has reached championship weekend and the main contenders all have one more chance to impress the voters, all 929 of them. Voters have until Monday, Dec. 8 to vote, meaning this week is it for players to make their cases and earn an invite to New York as a finalist.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota remains on top of the XN Sports Heisman Watch and is the favorite.

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is right on Mariota's heels and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has thrust himself into the conversation as a potential spoiler to win it and at the very least a finalist who will find his way to New York.

The race for the Heisman would be even tighter and more interesting if Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett had not broken his ankle late in the win over Michigan. He will miss the Big Ten Title game Saturday and his duel with Gordon would have added even more theater to the game.

TCU QB Trevone Boykin looks like a finalist here even though he won't win the award while Florida State QB Jameis Winston is not heading to New York, is no longer a candidate, and is out of the watch. The Seminoles keep winning but Winston keeps helping them dig holes (four interceptions against Florida) that may come back to bite them if not against Georgia Tech this week in the ACC Championship, then in the playoffs.

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.

Here's Week 10 of the Watch:

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XN Sports Heisman watch: Close call between Mariota, Gordon

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Mariota has thrown 36 TD passes with only two interceptions. He has thrown for 3,470 yards and has also rushed for 636 yards and 11 TDs. Mariota accounted for six TDs in Oregon’s rout of Oregon State in the Civil War with four TD passes and two rushing scores. He enters the Pac-12 title game having accounted for four or more TDs in five straight games.

Mariota is the favorite but not a lock. If he leads Oregon past Arizona on Friday night and has a typical big game doing it he will likely win. If the Ducks and Mariota get shut down by the Wildcats for the second time this season it could open the door for other candidates.

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Gordon is right on Mariota’s heels and would be the player to benefit the most if Mariota has a hard time with Arizona again. Gordon still leads the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with 2,260 and 26 respectively.

With not much of a passing game to speak of, the Badgers have leaned on Gordon all season and he has responded. Gordon has not rushed for less than 122 yards all season and has at least one rushing TD in every game Wisconsin has played.

Gordon gets a showdown with Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, which is his last big stage to state his Heisman case.

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Cooper has been solid all season and was outstanding in the Iron Bowl as Alabama overtook Auburn late to keep its national title hopes alive.

Cooper ranks second in receiving yards and receiving TDs with 1,573 and 14 respectively behind Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who has been impressive in his own right but Cooper gets the nod as a candidate because he has done it on a bigger stage and for one of the best teams in the nation.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

TCU QB Trevone Boykin

Boykin has thrown for 3,254 yards and 26 TDs with only six interceptions while also rushing for 598 yards and eight TDs. With Boykin in control the Horned Frogs have been one of the best teams in the country and are on the cusp of a playoff berth.

A big game Saturday against Iowa State should ensure Boykin a trip to New York as a finalist.

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett

Poor J.T., who was having a special season before breaking his ankle late in the win over Michigan Saturday. Barrett has thrown 34 TD passes, sixth in the country, to go along with 2,834 yards passing while adding 938 yards and 11 TDs on the ground.

Barrett was likely to finish with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing this season and despite the injury he has a good shot at an invitation to New York as a Heisman finalist.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Keep an eye on

The five players above are pretty much it. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott has had a nice season but didn’t come through in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss while UCLA QB Brett Hundley and the Bruins were routed by Stanford with a spot in the Pac-12 title game and an outside shot at the playoffs on the line.

James Winston won’t repeat and shouldn’t be a finalist either. All he does is win but it hasn’t been pretty with a 21-17 TD to INT ratio and a number of close calls against unranked teams.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Darkhorse Candidates

Here are a few players who have been great this season but find themselves outside the Heisman conversation for a variety of reasons. Louisville safety Gerod Holliman has 14 interceptions this season and is the only player in the country in double digits in INTs. In fact, Holliman has more picks than 100 of the 128 teams playing FBS football.

Arizona LB Scooby Wright leads the nation in tackles for a loss and has helped the Wildcats to the Pac-12 title game. Higgins has been one of the country’s best receivers while Indiana RB Tevin Coleman has joined Gordon in the 2,000-yard club and (2,036) while adding 15 rushing TDs.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Related links:
XN Sports Top 25 college football rankings
Fantasy football Week 14: Under the radar starts
Idzik's brutal failures sending Rex Ryan to the chopping block
The five most frustrating NFL quarterbacks

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