XN Sports Heisman Watch: Dak Prescott Takes Over On Top

Dak Prescott

Week two of the XN Heisman Watch kept the XN Heisman watch jinx alive and didn’t waste any time doing so. The Watch wasn’t out for more than 12 hours before its number one contender, Georgia running back Todd Gurley was put on indefinite suspension for allegedly profiting from autographs.

Dumb NCAA rule or not (hint: IT IS!), Gurley missed the Bulldogs’ dominant win at Missouri and will be out this week for the Arkansas game in all likelihood. He’s not wiped off the face of the Heisman Watch yet, but the longer he is out the harder it will be for him to make it to New York.

With Gurley downgraded the Watch has its third leading contender in as many weeks. Congratulations Dak Prescott, you’re up and hopefully you make it through your bye week unscathed.

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.

On to week 3 of the Watch.

Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott – Prescott wasn’t at his best against Auburn, he threw a pair of interceptions but he accounted for three touchdowns, including a pair on the ground to go along with 121 yards rushing. On the season Prescott has thrown for 1,478 yards with 14 TDs and four interceptions and has added 576 yards rushing and eight TDs. He also has high-profile games left with Alabama and Ole Miss that could set him apart from the field.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – Welcome back Marcus. A week after being relegated to ‘keep an eye on’ status by the Watch, Mariota bounced back with a strong performance in the Ducks’ win at UCLA. One of the big reasons for Mariota’s rebound was the return of offensive lineman Jake Fisher, who missed the last two games along with fellow o-line starters Tyler Johnstone, and Andre Yruretagoyena. Mariota ran for two scores and threw for two more against the Bruins and has noteworthy games against Washington, Stanford and Utah left to build his candidacy. All he has done so far is throw for 1,621 yards and 17 TDs with NO interceptions while rushing for five more scores.

Georgia RB Todd Gurley – Hopefully Gurley’s situation gets resolved soon and the star Bulldog gets back on the field, but having the NCAA involved and hoping for a situation to be resolved with expedience and common sense is like asking for Auburn and Alabama fans to hold hands and sing kumbaya during the Iron Bowl. The case with Gurley’s Heisman hopes is simple. If he gets back on the field next week he can revive them, if not he’s out.

Notre Dame QB Everett Golson – Golson is now 16-1 as a starter in South Bend and gets a chance for another Heisman moment (his last-minute TD pass against Stanford was his first) in Tallahassee against the Seminoles. Golson will have to clean up his play (nine turnovers in the last three games) but if he can end Notre Dame’s futility streak and Florida State’s dominance he will undoubtedly boost his Heisman stock. The Irish are 1-16 against top-five opponents since 1999 while the Seminoles have won a school-record 22 straight games, including 10 in-a-row at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida State QB Jameis WinstonAnother week and another controversy surrounding the defending Heisman winner. The Seminoles still haven’t lost and are the defending national champs so Winston remains in the conversation but he is facing a student code of conduct hearing for an ongoing sexual assault investigation and could get dinged in the same autograph flap that took down Gurley. If Winston is bothered by any of this he is not letting it show on the field. Last week he went 30-for-36 for 317 yards and three TDs against Syracuse and a big game against the Irish will only vault him up the list higher.

Keep an eye on: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, Baylor QB Bryce Petty as well as Auburn QB Nick Marshall, who will play against so many highly-ranked teams the rest of the way that he could bounce back to contender status as well.

Darkhorse Candidate: The darkhorse candidate spot has rotated each week as well and this week we like Washington junior linebacker Shaq Thompson who has been doing it all for the 5-1 Huskies. Thompspon has scored five touchdowns in 2014, one as a running back and four on defense (one interception return and three fumble returns). He enters this week’s game against Oregon tied for fifth in the nation  in forced fumbles (three in six games) and tied for second in fumble recoveries (three in six games). He scored twice in a win over Illinois and scored on a 100-yard fumble return in a win at California. If he can make a high-profile play or two Saturday against Mariota and the Ducks, his chances of at least being a finalist will pick up momentum.

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John Nestor
John Nestor is a Philadelphia sports fan and veteran sportswriter trapped in Connecticut. Tweet him @nestorjdn