QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks, 1/3 odds at Bovada
Marcus Mariota was off last weekend, as was Oregon. Nothing that happened in college football should have changed our perception of him or the Ducks. The UCLA and Michigan State teams that Mariota and Oregon fricasseed moved up in the rankings, and the Arizona team that beat a depleted Oregon won narrowly.
And idleness basically didn't change Mariota's Heisman odds. The numbers went from "He's the overwhelming favorite" at 1/5 to "He's the overwhelming favorite, but slightly less overwhelming" at 1/3.
RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin Badgers, 5/2
As usual, I was wrong: Melvin Gordon's a Heisman frontrunner and any argument otherwise is pointless. Check it: http://t.co/9nV5iMc9wB— Brendan Bures (@BrenBures) November 18, 2014
I like Brendan Bures, who has managed to be a Florida State alumnus and generally sane about the 2014 college football season. He's wrong when calling Gordon a front-runner, though, something even his column admits, as he ranks Mariota No. 1 and Gordon No. 2 in a "Heisman top 3."
Bures writes that "the margin between (Mariota) and No. 2 has nearly diminished." That's not quite true. Gordon's odds dipped significantly after his record-breaking, 408-yard, not-even-as-good-as-it-could-have-been-had-he-played-the-fourth-quarter magnum opus against Nebraska, but only from 14/1 to 5/2. Gordon's the horse who you might bet on if you think the favorite pulls up lame.
Because he's a running back, because not every Gordon game is that celestial, because he plays for a distinctly unsexy team, because that team isn't really in national conversations, because that team lost to Northwestern — a sin that would make talking about Everett Golson's candidacy laughable today — and because Mariota's far and away the best candidate in this field, Gordon is not a front-runner.
If Mariota pratfalls over the next two weeks? Sure, Gordon could win it. But that's the only way. And front-runners don't have to chase anyone down.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State Bulldogs, 33/1
Prescott's last five games: One game with more than 18 completions, seven passing touchdowns against eight interceptions, and one game with more than 100 rushing yards. (Okay, yes: Five rushing touchdowns, too.)
Most importantly? Prescott's 4-1 over those games.
Prescott's candidacy was always going to be measured relative to Mariota's, and always going to rely on an unbeaten record as a trump card, and he no longer has it. And that trump didn't look all that valuable of late, anyway.
Maybe Prescott ends up in New York if the Bulldogs win out from here. I wouldn't count on it. Coffee, and expenses-paid trips to New York, are for closers.
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State Buckeyes, 15/1
QB Trevone Boykin, TCU Horned Frogs, 25/1
Barrett threw four picks in his first two games. Ohio State struggled with Navy and lost to a bad Virginia Tech outfit. Since then: 26 TDs, four picks, and six games with three or more passing touchdowns, one more over eight games than Mariota has this season.
Against a common opponent, Michigan State, Barrett did basically what Mariota did, and did it in East Lansing. There was just too much ground to make up for Barrett to be a meaningful player in this year's race, but he's going to be the Heisman favorite on more than a few lists heading into 2014.
And Boykin might be, too, if he stays at TCU like he should. He's cooled off significantly as a passer of late, with just one touchdown pass in each of his last three games, but he still runs enough to add numbers to his tally and is nearly at a 5:1 TD:INT ratio.
My bet is that the one of these two QBs who "outduels" the other down the stretch gets a trip to the Big Apple, especially if Prescott falters against Ole Miss.
QB Jameis Winston, Florida State Seminoles, 40/1
If Winston plays well in a dominant Florida State win over Miami, well, maybe there's something interesting to talk about in regards to his candidacy come next week? But last year, when Winston wasn't really throwing picks, he threw two (with just one touchdown) against Miami (while also generally aerating the 'Canes, to be fair), so I wouldn't count on him being brilliant on Saturday night.
Winston's line against Miami: 25-for-42, 304 yards, one TD, one pick. Brad Kaaya's line against Florida State: 16-for-34, 314 yards, two TDs, one pick. Winston played well, but Florida State wasn't dominant and Kaaya (and FSU's Dalvin Cook) showing out took much of what could have been Winston's shine.
Winston still has Heisman odds, for some reason — in case you want to only figuratively burn hard-earned money — but it's increasingly possible that an undefeated-as-a-starter quarterback of an undefeated team is going to not even make it to New York.