Mariota’s Heisman Win Adds To Oregon-Florida State Intrigue

Marcus Mariota

It’s been a whirlwind few days for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as the junior quarterback became the first Duck to win the award on Saturday night.

Mariota’s time in New York not only included his historic Heisman win but also a trip to the Ed Sullivan Theater for a taping of the “Late Show with Dave Letterman” on which Mariota delivered a top-10 list for Letterman. He also appeared on the “Dan Patrick Show,” Sports Center, and at a children’s hospital before wrapping up his trip at a gala in his honor at the midtown Marriott Marquis, which all living Heisman winners were invited to.

Now it’s back to work for the redshirt junior, who will try and lead Oregon to the national championship game when they face Florida State on Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl in the semifinals of the first college football playoff.

Mariota easily won the Heisman after a season in which he accounted for 53 touchdowns and led the nation in passing efficiency. He threw for 38 TDs, ran for 14 more, and even had a TD reception and the 53 scores were more than 92 FBS TEAMS had in the regular season.

The first player born in Hawaii to win the Heisman, Mariota is the 35th quarterback and the 17th Junior to win the award. He earned 788 of the 891 first-place votes and 90.9 percent of the total points in the Heisman voting, to easily outdistance Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, the only other player invited to New York as a finalist along with Mariota and Gordon, finished third.

“In Hawaii, if one person is successful the entire state is successful,” Mariota said. “I’m just grateful to be a part of it. I hope this is just the beginning and that a lot of kids back home are inspired to succeed.”

To add a national title to his list of accomplishments, Mariota will have to lead Oregon past Florida State and another Heisman Trophy-winning QB in Jameis Winston.

Winning the Heisman used to be looked at as a curse but Heisman winners have won their last five bowl games, including three in the national championship game. Last year, Winston led the Seminoles to a comeback victory over Auburn for the national title and now Mariota will try and extend the Heisman winners’ bowl streak and set up a showdown with either Ohio State or Alabama for the national title.

The Rose Bowl could be Mariota’s final game with the Ducks as the widely-held belief is that he will forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the NFL draft. Mariota is pretty well regarded at the moment as a QB prospect with former Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy calling Mariota “Aaron Rodgers in the waiting” on a segment on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

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