Hunting the Heisman: It's the moment of truth for Mariota
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota holds a very slight edge over Florida State freshman phenom Jameis Winston, and that could change with one three-and-a-half hour span.
If Mariota doesn't lead the Ducks to a win over Stanford, it blows the door wide open for Winston—whose Seminoles are poised to finish the regular season undefeated and take the ACC Championship.
But that's not the only factor that plays into tonight's matchups. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has a huge opportunity to prove to the voters that he—and the Bears—are for real. Oklahoma owns one of the top secondary units in the country, and a big performance could shake up the race.
The Big Three:
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
vs. UCLA: 21-of-28 (70.0 percent), 230 yards, TD ... 7 carries, 18 yards
2013: 144-of-225 (64.0 percent), 2,281 yards, 20 TDs ... 56 carries, 511 yards, 9 TDs
Why: The good news is that Mariota had an entire week off to prepare for a Stanford defense that really had his number last year. The bad news? So did the Cardinal. If Mariota can put up big numbers and lead the Ducks to a victory in Silicon Valley, it's more than likely that they will end up winning the Pac-12 Championship and head to the BCS title game. If that's the case, then he'll hoist the bronze on December 14. No pressure, though.
2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
vs. Miami (Fla.): 21-of-29 (72.4 percent), 325 yards, TD, 2 INTs ... 6 carries, 27 yards
2013: 149-of-212 (70.3 percent), 2,502 yards, 24 TDs, 6 INTs ... 50 carries, 153 yards, 3 TDs
Why: Two things need to happen for Winston to overtake this crowded Heisman race, with the obvious number one being an Oregon loss. However, Winston cannot become complacent with a lackluster schedule approaching. Florida State plays Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and a struggling Florida team the next four weeks, and a poor performance against any of the above listed could be devastating for his chances.
3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
vs. Kansas: 20-of-32 (62.5 percent), 430 yards, 3 TDs ... 4 carries, 22 yards, TD
2013: 122-of-176 (69.3 percent), 2,453 yards, 18 TDs, INT ... 28 carries, 73 yards, 6 TDs
Why: This is a huge day for Petty from not only a Heisman perspective, but it's an opportunity for him to show off his skills to NFL scouts all while giving Baylor a solid chance at the BCS. Oklahoma is No. 10 in the standings, but also has the No. 10-rated secondary. The Sooners' ballhawks have allowed just 179.5 yards per game through the air and a total of eight passing touchdowns, which is quite the impressive stat considering the Big 12 is a pass-happy league.
Still in the Hunt:
1. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: 145-of-209, 1,862 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INTs
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: 200-of-276, 2,876 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs ... 96 carries, 564 yards, 8 TDs
3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: 179-of-243, 2,557 yards, 23 TDs, 2 INTs
4. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: 290-of-419, 3,061 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs
5. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois: 164-of-258, 1,871 yards, 19 TDs, 5 INTs ... 173 carries, 1,150 yards, 12 TDs
Keep Your Eye On:
1. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
2. Brandon Cooks, WR, Oregon State
3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
4. KaDeem Carey, RB, Arizona
5. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina
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