Heisman Race 2014: Marcus Mariota, Todd Gurley And ...

By Ty Duffy

Five weeks of college football have come and gone. Most schools have played at least one true opponent. It’s time to take a preliminary look at the Heisman race.

The last winner outside a big five program was Ty Detmer. Twelve of the last 14 have been quarterbacks. Barring a gob-smacking position player performance, you’re probably looking at a QB from one of the nation’s Top 5-10 teams. Here is a very early top five.

Marcus Mariota [QB – Oregon] Mariota quarterbacks a name brand team and is himself a name brand. Passing numbers thus far? First in completion percentage, passer rating and TD-INT ratio. Second in yards/attempt. Mariota played well against Michigan State. He should be the favorite, if he continues producing and Oregon keeps winning. The drawbacks for him will be late kickoffs and Oregon not having that many statement games remaining.

Todd Gurley [RB – Georgia] Gurley may be the strongest non-quarterback in college football. He is averaging 8.84 yards/carry. He has already had great to outstanding games against Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee. There was also this spectacular kickoff return. The Bulldogs’ front-loaded schedule sets up nicely for an SEC East title run down the stretch. The trouble is, with Georgia so flush with running back talent, he will be rested a lot during the soft spots.

Amari Cooper [WR – Alabama] Wide receivers need recognition and monster numbers to get in the mix. Cooper plays for the biggest program in the country. In four games under Lane Kiffin, he has 43 catches for 655 yards and five touchdowns. If he stays healthy and focused, he should be in the discussion.

Everett Golson [QB – Notre Dame] Every quarterback should take a gap year working with a guru. The book on Golson was to stop the run and force him to make accurate throws. He has been doing it. Notre Dame has been winning. Two of the Irish’s next three games are against Stanford and Florida State. If they win those and get into the national title picture, Golson will move up the board.

Kenny Hill [QB – Texas A&M] The opening night effort against South Carolina imprinted him on the broader college football consciousness. He will run up some numbers in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. He’s currently on pace for about 40 touchdowns. It’s hard to see his performance holding up through the back end of A&M’s schedule. But, if it does, he will have multiple chances to make a case for himself.

Beyond that… There are a number of viable quarterbacks who could enter the discussion, with strong performances and continued team success. File Jameis Winston, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and Cody Kessler into that group. The only other position players on the radar are Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon. Both will post strong numbers, but will anyone notice against mediocre Big Ten teams?