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XN Sports Heisman Watch: Mariota on Top, Marshall, Boykin Making a Push

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota remains on top of the XN Sports Heisman Watch with Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott on his heels.

Marcus Mariota

The top of the XN Sports Heisman Watch has a familiar look to it with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota the front-runner with Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott a close second.

For the time being Mariota and Prescott have separated themselves from the rest of the field, which is now made up entirely of quarterbacks. Jameis Winston, Everett Golson, Nick Marshall, and Trevone Boykin round out the list of contenders who are likely to be finalists for the award.

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 6 of the Watch.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – Mariota accounted for four TDs (2 passing, 2 rushing) as Oregon snapped a two-game losing skid to Stanford with a 45-16 victory. Stanford entered the game ranked second in the nation in scoring and total defense and Mariota gets another chance to shine against a ranked Utah squad on the road on Saturday. As long as Mariota plays well and the Ducks keep winning (and remain in the playoff hunt), he will be the Heisman front-runner.

Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott – Prescott wasn’t at his best but he led the Bulldogs to a comeback victory over Arkansas to keep Mississippi State’s playoff hopes alive and with it his Heisman hopes. A game against Tennessee-Martin this week should bolster the stats and will set the table for a stretch run that will make or break both the Bulldogs’ shot at a national title and Prescott’s pursuit of the Heisman. Wins at Alabama, Vanderbilt, and at Ole Miss will send the Bulldogs to the first college football playoff and Prescott to New York with a shot at the Heisman, a loss along the way and things will get muddled.

Florida State QB Jameis Winston – Despite trailing Louisville on the road, 21-0, in the first half Thursday night, Florida State ran its school-record win streak to 24 games and Winston has now won 21 straight starts to begin his college career. The Cardinals defense entered the game ranked first in the nation in total defense at 245.8 yards allowed per game and third in scoring defense (14.6) but Winston rallied to throw for 401 yards and three TDs, including two in the fourth quarter. Games vs. Virginia, at Miami, vs. Boston College, and Florida remain for Winston and the Seminoles as he looks to bolster his case for a repeat Heisman and the Seminoles look to book a berth in the playoff.

Notre Dame QB Everett Golson – Golson became the first Notre Dame player to pass for three TDs and run for three TDs in a game, leading the Irish to victory over Navy. Golson is now 17-2 as a starter in South Bend with his only losses coming against Alabama in the BCS Title game and at Florida State this season. Golson has a big game this Saturday at Arizona State. A win there will not only keep Notre Dame in the playoff chase but will also look impressive on Golson’s resume and with games against Louisville and USC remaining, Golson still has a chance to climb this list and at the very least get to New York as a finalist.

Auburn QB Nick Marshall/TCU QB Trevone Boykin – We are putting Marshall and Boykin together in the watch as a two-for-one, two players having great seasons and one is likely to make a push down the stretch of the season if not both. Marshall threw two TD passes and ran for two scores as the Tigers outlasted Ole Miss on the road in likely a playoff elimination game. Marshall has thrown 13 TD passes after throwing just 14 all of last season and has games with Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama left. Boykin has helped keep TCU in the Big 12 title chase and playoff running and has thrown 22 TD passes this season with only four interceptions. Boykin has a showcase game Saturday night as the Horned Frogs take on Kansas State in a game with huge playoff implications and one that could boost or end Boykin’s Heisman hopes.

Keep an eye on: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah, and Alabama WR Amari Cooper.

Darkhorse Candidates: RB Jarvion Franklin. The Western Michigan freshman is second in the nation in rushing yards (1330 in nine games), just 12 yards behind leader James Conner of Pitt. Franklin has a nation-best 22 rushing TDs and is close to setting a new Mid-American Conference single season freshman rushing record. The current mark of 1,361 was set in 2009 by Bernard Pierce of Temple.

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