Oregon QB Marcus Mariota remains on top of the XN Sports Heisman Watch but he has company in fast-rising Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
Joining Gordon in the rising star category is Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, who continues to improve week by week and has the Buckeyes contending for a college football playoff spot.
Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott has dropped out of contender status while TCU QB Trevone Boykin and Florida State QB Jameis Winston are still in the conversation.
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 8 of the Watch.
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – Mariota has 29 TD passes with only two interceptions this season to go along with 2,780 yards passing. He has also rushed for 524 yards and eight TDs and will have a chance to add to his impressive numbers against a Colorado defense that ranks 118th in scoring defense, allowing 38.6 points per game.
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon – Gordon leads the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with 1,909 and 23 respectively. He is coming off a record-breaking performance against Nebraska in which he ran for an FBS single-game record of 406 yards in just three quarters of work. Gordon, who broke the old mark set by TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson in 1999, will surpass 2,000 yards before the season is out and that number won’t guarantee a Heisman win but there is no doubt now that he’s a finalist.
TCU QB Trevone Boykin – Boykin is tied for 13th in the country with 24 TD passes and he has the Horned Frogs on the cusp of a spot in the college football playoff. Boykin has thrown for 3,021 yards with only five interceptions while also rushing for 548 yards and seven TDs. A Thanksgiving Day showdown with an improving Texas team is next for Boykin, who will likely end up in New York as a Heisman finalist with a big game against the Longhorns.
Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett – Ohio State is one of the most improved teams in the country since the start of the season and Barrett is a big reason why. Last week Barrett threw for three touchdowns and ran for an Ohio State quarterback-record 189 yards and a TD in an important road win over Minnesota. Barrett has thrown for 2,356 yards and 29TDs so far while adding 771 yards and nine TDs on the ground.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston – Winston remains without a loss as a starter and Florida State is the only undefeated power conference team in the country. The Seminoles seem to always start slow, they have been behind in the second quarter in seven of their last eight games, but Winston has been at his best under pressure and has the Seminoles three games from a spot in the playoffs.
Keep an eye on: Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott and Alabama WR Amari Cooper.
Darkhorse Candidates: Indiana RB Tevin Coleman. Lost in the hoopla surrounding Gordon and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Coleman is having a standout season. He is second in the country in rushing with 1,678 yards and has 12 TDs. He ran for a career-high 307 yards Saturday against Rutgers and is just 127 yards away from the school’s single-season record set by Vaughn Dunbar in 1991.