Entering week five, even this early in conference play, the Heisman trophy race becomes a little clearer, as the pretenders are found out, and the real contenders step to the fore. More importantly, the surprises (freshman sensations, seniors stepping up) start to make their names known. Expect this to be more obvious as the season goes on. For now, we’ve already lost one.
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Illinois had looked a lot better than they did in 2013, so Nebraska had to be careful they didn’t overlook the Illini with a big trip to Michigan State coming up. The Cornhuskers had the perfect solution – feel the fall to AA. Abdullah, and his running mate Imani Cross, constantly churned out good yardage against the struggling Illinois defense. Abdullah finished with 208 yards and three TDs on 22 carries, as the Huskers racked up 458 rushing yards.
2014 Stats: 114 attempts for 833 yards and eight TDs; five receptions for 108 Yards and two TDs; six KRs for 119 yards.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Took the weekend off.
2014 Stats: 43 receptions for 655 yards and five TDs; two carries for 29 yards.
Everett Golson, Notre Dame
The running game failed to get it going against Syracuse, but it didn’t really matter as Golson continued to excel, peeling the Orange with his precise passing. He threw a couple of picks (his first of the season), including one that could have been potentially troublesome late in the game, but the defense bailed him out. As it was, he completed 32 of 39 passes for 362 yards and four TDs, and ran for 21 yards on 10 carries.
2014 Stats: 94 completions on 135 attempts for 1142 yards and 11 TDs and two interceptions; 39 carries for 104 yards and four TDs.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
The Badgers struggled in the first half against South Florida, and took a 3-3 score into the locker room at halftime. Gordon showed he was more than just a guy who carries the ball, as he had some angry words with his team at the half. Whatever he said, it worked, as Wisconsin tore up the Bulls in the second half. Gordon finished the game with 181 yards and two TDs on 32 carries, getting 121 of those yards and both scores in the second half.
2014 Stats: 78 carries for 612 yards and eight TDs; five receptions for 27 Yards and one TD.
Todd Gurley, Georgia
The Bulldogs certainly made hard work of their matchup with Tennessee, needing time to save time more than strong play. One of the few exceptions was Gurley, who had an outstanding game against the Volunteers, pounding them for 208 yards and 2 TDs on 28 carries, including a 51-yard scoring run. Gurley also chipped in as a receiver, catching 4 passes for 30 yards, and returned 2 kickoffs for 47 yards in another dominant performance.
2014 Stats: 69 carries for 610 yards and six TDs; nine receptions for 29 yards; three KRs for 147 yards and one TD.
Kenny Hill, Texas A&M
Hill could have been elevated to top 10 status, but his play against Arkansas was inconsistent at best. After a tough start, Texas A&M faced a 28-14 deficit entering the fourth quarter. Hill stepped up though, throwing a couple of long TD passes (86 and 59 yards) to send the game into overtime. Hill threw for a score on the very first play, and the defense did the rest as A&M pulled off a 35-28 comeback victory. Hill only completed 21 of 41 passes and threw an interception, but he passed for 386 yards and four scores, while running for 30 yards on six carries.
2014 Stats: 118 completions on 180 attempts for 1745 yards and 17 TDs, with two interceptions; 22 carries for 136 yards.
Brett Hundley, UCLA
When the news came out that Hundley would play against Arizona State, Bruins fans breathed a collective sigh of relief, but there were still some concerns. How would the injury affect his play? How would he handle being hit? Those questions were quickly answered as Hundley had easily his best performance in an occasionally lackluster season. The junior sliced and diced the Sun Devil secondary, completing 18 of 23 passes for 355 yards and four TDs, two of which came on 80-yard efforts. When the Sun Devils did manage to cover the Bruins receivers, Hundley took off on his own for some timely first downs. More importantly, he showed little fear of reinjuring (for good or ill) his elbow. He added 72 yards and a score on eight carries as ASU managed to sack him just once.
2014 Stats: 75 completions on 104 attempts for 1041 yards and seven TDs, with one interception; 37 carries for 146 yards and two TDs.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Took the weekend off.
2014 Stats: 71 completions on 96 attempts for 1135 yards and 13 TDs; 33 carries for 214 yards and three TDs.
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Another candidate that had some injury woes recently, Petty showed no signs of discomfort as he picked Iowa State apart. Petty threw an early interception, and was incomplete on fourth down at the Cyclone 33. He was otherwise accurate, completing 30 of 44 passes for 336 yards and a TD. He used his legs again this week, as he picked up 47 yards and two scores on nine carries. The Cyclones played tough early, but the game got away from them as they had no answer to Petty’s passing and timely running.
2014 Stats: 66 completions on 101 attempts for 913 yards and seven TDs, with one interception; 13 carries for 79 yards and three TDs.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston was the center of the wrong type of media attention again, and it cost him the Clemson game. He was a little out of sorts this week, as North Carolina State came out strong and quickly established a 24-7 lead, putting the Seminoles in comeback mode. FSU started to chip away at the lead, but the Wolfpack kept playing hard, keeping Winston and Co. at arm’s length. But as we saw last year, there are few cooler in the clutch than the defending Heisman champ, and he took advantage of some NC State errors to not only pull the Seminoles back, but establish a big lead of their own as they ran out as 56-41 winners. Winston fumbled early, and threw a couple of picks, but he was otherwise stellar, completing 26 of 38 passes for 365 yards and four TDs, and also had a 20-yard run.
2014 Stats: 73 completions on 105 attempts for 991 yards and seven TDs, with four interceptions; 12 carries for eight yards and one TD.
Shane Carden, East Carolina
Stats – 111 completions on 178 attempts for 1469 yards and 11 TDs, with three interceptions; 26 carries for 19 yards and three TDs.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Stats – 88 carries for 691 yards and seven TDs; nine receptions for 93 yards.
James Conner, Pittsburgh
Stats – 134 carries for 790 yards and nine TDs; two receptions for 20 yards.
DJ Foster, Arizona State
Stats – 63 carries for 540 yards and five TDs; 16 receptions for 207 yards and one TD.
Taysom Hill, Brigham Young
Stats – 80 completions on 121 attempts for 876 yards and six TDs, with three interceptions; 79 carries for 429 yards and seven TDs.
*Section Photo credit to espn.com