The Heisman Committee has announced its finalists for the 2014 Heisman Trophy, honoring the nation’s most outstanding college football player.
The committee invited University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, University of Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, and University of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon to travel to the ceremony on Saturday.
Mariota remains the odds-on favorite; he led the second-ranked Ducks with a QBR of 186.3, tops in the nation, and passed for 3,783 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. In addition, Mariota ran for 669 yards, 14 touchdowns, and was responsible for an FBS-high 53 touchdowns. No one has had more than 53 touchdowns since 2008, when Chase Clement of Rice University had 57 and the University of Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford had 55.
Mariota outdistanced other QBs, including TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who was ignored despite 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns in 12 games, Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott, who lost luster when the Bulldogs lost twice in November, and Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who missed the last game of the regular season against Michigan due to injury and also missed the Big Ten championship game.
Mariota, whose Ducks will face Florida State in the Rose Bowl, said, “It is humbling to be considered for an award that I have admired for a very long time. I would like to thank my teammates and coaches as I could not have been recognized as a finalist without their help.” The only other Ducks players considered for the Heisman have been quarterback Joey Harrington in 2001 and running back LaMichael James in 2010.
The NCAA Selection Committee also ignored Boykin’s TCU when picking teams for the college playoff; TCU had been ranked third in the nation, but they dropped to fifth in the final rankings. Only four times (in 214 opportunities) has the third-ranked team in the AP poll dropped below fourth place the week after it won a game over an FBS opponent.
Cooper topped the FBS with 1,656 receiving yards, 115 catches, and was tied for second with 14 touchdown receptions. He said, “This will be my first trip to New York City, and I can’t put into words how much it means to me and my family. I am privileged to have the opportunity to represent our team at the Heisman ceremony. None of this would be possible without my coaches and teammates.” He is the fourth member of the Crimson Tide to be nominated for the Heisman since 2009, when Mark Ingram won the award.
Gordon was top-ranked in the nation with 2,336 yards rushing and 179.7 yards per game. He had a colossal game against Nebraska, smashing the single-game FBS rushing record with 408; if he amasses 293 yards in his final game against Auburn in the Outback Bowl, he will break Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 2,628 from 1988, when he won the Heisman with Oklahoma State. Other Heisman winners for the Badgers have been Alan Ameche (1954) and Ron Dayne (1999).
QB Jameis Winston from Florida State, who won the Heisman last year, was ignored by the Heisman Committee, possibly due to his off-the-field troubles. NFL Media Analyst and former scout Bucky Brooks had stated, “If you’re talking about the best player in college football, he should be in the conversation. The things that hurts Jameis’ Heisman (consideration) is the off-the-field stuff. The number of turnovers that he’s had this year compared to last year, it’s hard to say he’s playing better than he did the previous year, which makes it hard to throw him in the conversation.”
The winner will be announced Saturday night in New York City.