Heisman Trophy Top 5 through Week 3

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The College Football Huddle Heisman Trophy Top 5 is checking in every week from now until a new recepient is immortalized in December. These weekly rankings reflect performance for the 2014 season. Expect fluidity from week-to-week, particularly as more teams embark on conference play.

1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The most egregious omission from the Downtown Athletic Club’s invitees list each of the last two seasons was Marcus Mariota. The redshirt junior is working to force the Heisman voters’ hands in his third year captaining the Ducks offense.

Mariota’s numbers against Wyoming in Week 3 were pretty much standard for the dual-threat playmaker: 19-of-23 passing, 226 yards and two touchdowns with another 71 yards and two scores on the ground.

That came on the heels of a three-touchdown, 318-yard passing performance against Michigan State’s vaunted No-Fly Zone defense in Week 2.

2. WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

For those who followed Lane Kiffin’s tenure at USC closely, it was readily apparent Amari Cooper stood to gain a lot with Kiffin’s arrival to Alabama as offensive coordinator.

Kiffin’s tendency to lean on his No. 1 receiver has remained true to form, and Cooper seems more than happy to oblige. His 33 receptions lead the nation, and only Baylor’s K.D. Cannon and West Virginia’s Kevin White–both of whom play in uptempo, spread systems–have more yards.

3. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Some were ready to crown Todd Gurley the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner just one game into the season, and the Georgia star really has done nothing to dissuade his supporters. The Bulldogs’ Week 3 loss wasn’t Gurley’s fault: He rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown.

Now, really not being on the field for a crucial goal-line stand did contribute to the Bulldogs’ loss. But that’s not Gurley’s fault. Don’t expect him to be off the field for any more such moments the remainder of the season.

4. QB Kenny Hill, Texas A&M

Kenny Hill emerged from Johnny Manziel’s immense shadow immediately, taking the college football world by storm with his 511-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 1 at South Carolina.

Playing a pair of body bags against Lamar and Rice may have cooled Hill Hysteria for the time being, but Kevin Sumlin’s latest star protege has padded his stat sheet with a pair of four-touchdown efforts. Hill and the Aggies face one more tomato can in SMU before meeting Arkansas in a suddenly intriguing Week 5 contest.

5. RB James Conner, Pittsburgh

Pitt’s produced some noteworthy running backs, like LeSean McCoy and former Heisman winner Tony Dorsett. James Conner is from a much different mold–a much bigger mold–but he’s shaping up to be the Panthers’ next great running back.

He’s bulldozed his way to 543 yards through three games, and his eight rushing touchdowns lead the nation.

JUST MISSED

RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Nebraska’s early-season schedule has been underwhelming, thus limiting Ameer Abdullah’s opportunities to shine on a Heisman Trophy stage. The Cornhuskers blasted FAU, squeaked by McNeese State, then routed a Fresno State team that has yet to show a pulse this season.

He may have scored a highlight-reel touchdown to save the Huskers from losing to McNeese State, but that hardly qualifies as a “Heisman moment.”

Fret not: He’ll have ample opportunities when the competition stiffens in the Big Ten (don’t laugh).
RB Buck Allen, USC

Despite USC’s inability to establish the run against Boston College, Buck Allen still made his presence felt. He caught a career-high nine passes for 118 yards and scored a touchdown.

RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn

Auburn was off in Week 3, but takes center stage in Week 4 with a Thursday night trip to Kansas State. Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder must contend with Cameron Artis-Payne, the breakout star in Gus Malzah’s offense this season.

Artis-Payne has taken up the mantle from 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason with 289 yards and four touchdowns through the Tigers’ first two games.

RB D.J. Foster, Arizona State

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy nicknamed D.J. Foster “The Human First Down.” It’s a fitting title: The Sun Devils’ all-purpose back is averaging 9.4 yards per carry and 12.4 yards per reception.

Foster will be in the national spotlight on Sept. 25 when Arizona State hosts UCLA in a showdown of the last two Pac-12 South champions. Expect fireworks from Foster; in the last two years, these teams combined for 86 and 71 points.

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

The 2013 Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year has been excellent at his natural position, linebacker. He has 26 tackles and a couple passes broken up.

Myles Jack is also starting to reestablish himself as a two-way threat, scoring a rushing touchdown in UCLA’s win over Memphis and converting a crucial fourth down last week against Texas.

QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

A back injury sidelined Bryce Petty for a potential stat sheet-stuffing rout of FCS Northwestern State, and the Bears’ other two games weren’t much more awe-inspiring. Petty took advantage of lesser competition from SMU and Buffalo to score six passing touchdowns and one on the ground.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

RB Alex Collins, Arkansas

Bret Bielema has one of the deepest and most talented running back corps in the nation, but sophomore Alex Collins is beginning to emerge as the star of the group. He rolled up 212 yards in the Razorbacks’ Week 3 win at Texas Tech and reached the end zone twice for his second straight multiple-touchdown game.


QB Clint Trickett, West Virginia

With a year to acclimate to Dana Holgorsen’s system, Clint Trickett is starting to flourish. He went at Alabama’s secondary for 365 passing yards in Week 1, then led West Virginia to a measure of revenge over Maryland with 511 yards and four touchdowns.

RB Nick Wilson, Arizona

Freshman Nick Wilson has replaced two-time All-American Ka’Deem Carey seamlessly. Wilson is the nation’s seventh-leading rusher with 449 yards and has four rushing touchdowns.

DEFENDING CHAMPION

Jameis Winston set an especially high standard in his Heisman Trophy-winning 2013. The Florida State redshirt sophomore has been perfectly adequate through the Seminoles’ first two contests, but not extraordinary.

He’s thrown just three touchdown passes to two interceptions in wins over Oklahoma State and The Citadel. Winston’s completion percentage is a healthy 70 percent and he scored a rushing touchdown that proved critical in the Week 1 defeat of Oklahoma State.

However, the reigning champion has plenty of room to improve his production once the Seminoles’ schedule picks up in the coming weeks: They host Clemson in an ACC showdown this week.