The college football world was in a state of shock on Sunday morning as the teams ranked two through five all lost, causing the voters to tear up their prematurely written playoff ballots. There is no doubt that the losses have opened the door for some others to sneak in, and while this too may be premature, the same applies to the Heisman Trophy race. The two quarterbacks from Mississippi schools, Dak Prescott and Bo Wallace, have earned mention in the conversation after big upsets over top ten teams. On a sad note, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill’s Heisman chances may have been slim, but they are non-existent as the exciting junior broke his leg against Utah State.
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Nebraska had a tough loss, literally and figuratively, to Michigan State, giving up a big lead, then falling short after roaring back in the fourth quarter. The Spartans had one plan – stop Abdullah – and boy did it work. Nebraska had no answer, and struggled to move the ball until late in the game. Abdullah had a rough time of it, carrying the ball 24 times for just 45 yards, arguably the worst game of his impressive career. He scored two short-yardage TDs in the fourth, but Heisman contenders are expected to show up in games like this. Down, but certainly not out.
2014 Stats: 138 attempts for 878 yards and 10 TDs; seven receptions for 130 yards and two TDs; eight KRs for 167 yards.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
After a week off, Cooper came back with the intention of continuing his assault on the record books. However, like the rest of his Alabama teammates, they hadn’t counted on an Ole Miss team hellbent on upsetting the third-ranked team in the nation. Cooper had another productive day, catching nine passes, but he was held in check by a Rebels secondary that knew where the ball was likely going when Blake Sims dropped back to pass. How effective were the Rebels in shutting down Cooper? He had a couple of nice receptions of 24 and 30 yards, but gained just 91 yards overall.
2014 Stats: 52 receptions for 746 yards and five TDs; two carries for 29 yards.
Everett Golson, Notre Dame
Padding stats are an important part of every Heisman candidate’s resume, just don’t expect to do it against Stanford. In fact, in this very matchup two years ago (the infamous “no review” game, Golson had a torrid time and was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of the steadier Tommy Rees, who led ND to the win. This time around, the Irish didn’t have a senior quarterback to fall back on if Golson struggled, but they didn’t need one. The sophomore’s stats sure weren’t pretty, but he did just enough to bail out the defense’s strong effort, and led a last-minute TD drive to pull off the win. Golson only completed 20 of 43 passes, but he did pass for 241 yards and two scores, with a solitary interception. His mobility got him out of trouble at times, and he added seven carries for 34 yards, including a nice 33-yard run. He may not have racked up a ton of yards and TDs, but he got a signature win, which can make the difference when the votes are cast.
2014 Stats: 114 completions on 178 attempts for 1383 yards and 13 TDs and three interceptions; 46 carries for 138 yards and four TDs.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Wisconsin has had some quarterback problems this season, and they really came to the fore when Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined for four interceptions in their loss to Northwestern last weekend. Even worse, those picks spoiled an outstanding performance from Gordon, who at times looked like he was running against Northeastern. Gordon continues to whet the appetites of NFL scouts with his combination of size and speed, and he had a 61-yard run against the Wildcats. All told, the junior carried 27 times, racking up 259 yards and scoring a TD. He’s going to need some help from his quarterback(s) down the stretch if he wants to stay on the list.
2014 Stats: 105 carries for 871 yards and nine TDs; five receptions for 27 yards and one TD.
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Vanderbilt may be a mess right now, but Georgia still felt the urge to rely on their star running back to take control of the game. Gurley responded appropriately, gashing the Commodores to the tune of 163 yards and two TDs on 25 carries. Not only did he run the ball effectively, he caught a couple of passes for 24 yards, and even tried his hand at throwing a pass, completing it to Jeb Blazevich for 50 yards – another thing for opponents to watch out for. If there is a major cause for concern, it’s Gurley continuing to carry the ball, even when the game is well out of reach.
2014 Stats: 94 carries for 773 yards and eight TDs; 11 receptions for 53 yards; 1/1 passing and for 50 Yards; three KRs for 147 yards and one TD.
Kenny Hill, Texas A&M
Hill was not totally to blame for the Mississippi State loss on Saturday. His defense had no answer for Dak Prescott, who lit them up for most of the second and third quarters – one can see why Hill threw three interceptions while trying to keep the Aggies from getting blown away. To his credit, he never quit – even with A&M down 48-17 in the fourth quarter – and led a couple of garbage TD drives. Apart from his three picks, he completed 37 of 62 passes for 365 yards and four TDs, and added 35 yards on 12 carries. He’s on the verge of slipping out of the top 10 as quickly as he slipped into it.
2014 Stats: 155 completions on 242 attempts for 2110 yards and 21 TDs, with five interceptions; 34 carries for 171 yards.
Brett Hundley, UCLA
UCLA was subject to a stunning loss at the hands of Utah, and while it would be easy to lay the blame at the foot of their star quarterback, the offensive line’s inability to protect him is a huge concern. The unit ceded 10 sacks to the Utes’ strong pass rush, and the health of the top player has to become a concern, as they have already allowed 23 sacks on the year. Hundley had a fine game, though. After throwing a pick-six early, he picked apart the Utes defense when given the opportunity to do so. He led a potential game-winning drive of his own, but had to sit and watch as Kendal Thompson marched Utah down the field to kick the winning field goal with mere seconds left. Hundley completed 16 of 21 passes for 269 yards and two TDs, and had a couple of nice runs, but was held to -24 yards on 16 carries, courtesy of the sacks.
2014 Stats: 91 completions on 125 attempts for 1310 yards and nine TDs,with two interceptions; 53 carries for 122 yards and two TDs.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Boom! Again Arizona took down the Ducks, potentially putting an end to Oregon’s title hopes. But as the loss put an end to Mariota’s Heisman hopes? He did fumble on a potential scoring drive late in the game, but it’s not like he struggled against the Wildcats. In fact, he was one of the few bright spots on offense. Despite being subject to a heavy pass rush for the second consecutive week, Mariota still found the time to complete 20 of 32 passes for 276 yards and two TDs, and also caught a TD pass from running back Royce Freeman. Being sacked five times cut into his rushing stats, finishing with just one yard on five carries. It’s also a concern that the Ducks have surrendered 12 sacks over the last two weeks, and the running game has been less than impressive.
2014 Stats: 91 completions on 128 attempts for 1411 yards and 15 TDs; 42 carries for 215 yards and three TDs; one reception for 26 yards and a TD.
Bryce Petty, Baylor
The Longhorns were talking a lot of smack prior to the game against Baylor last weekend, and while the Bears came out on top 28-7, Texas did a good job of keeping Petty from lighting them up. Petty had a shockingly inaccurate game, completing just 7 of 22 passes for 111 yards and two TDs. In fact, the Bears needed the running game and the other units to step forward to keep Texas from potentially pulling an upset. Petty needs to get back to form in a hurry. The Bears have some tough games on the horizon, and Petty’s Heisman hopes could take a hit if he continues to misfire.
2014 Stats: 73 completions on 123 attempts for 1024 yards and nine TDs, with one interception; 24 carries for 86 yards and three TDs.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Like many other quarterbacks on this list, Winston certainly didn’t have his best game, but he did more than enough to put Wake Forest to the sword. The Demon Deacons did a decent job against the run, and the Seminoles had to take to the air (and kick a lot of field goals) to get the job done. Winston completed 23 of 39 passes for 297 yards and a TD, with one interception, and also chipped in on the ground with seven carries for 34 yards and another score. Not great, but FSU won.
2014 Stats: 96 completions on 144 attempts for 1288 yards and eight TDs, with five interceptions; 20 carries for 44 yards and two TDs.
Shane Carden, East Carolina
Stats – 142 completions on 219 attempts for 1879 yards and 15 TDs, with three interceptions; 33 carries for 66 yards and three TDs.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Stats – 105 carries for 841 yards and eight TDs; 13 receptions for 127 yards.
James Conner, Pittsburgh
Stats – 156 carries for 874 yards and nine TDs; two receptions for 20 yards.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Stats – 77 completions on 121 attempts for 1223 yards and 13 TDs, with two interceptions; 85 carries for 455 yards and six TDs; two receptions for 35 Yards and one TD.
Bo Wallace, Mississippi
Stats – 111 completions on 162 attempts for 1522 yards and 14 TDs, with six Interceptions; 36 carries for 39 yards.
*Section Photo credit to Eric Francis, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Rod Mar, Sports Illustrated