Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota completed what is assuredly a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign Friday night, throwing for 303 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another three — all of those scores coming by the end of the third quarter — in Oregon's 51-13 annihilation of Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
And everyone with nothing better to do on a Friday night — so, yeah, a lot of Heisman voters — saw it. They saw Mariota run his total touchdowns this year to 53 (38 passing, 14 rushing, one receiving), and his tally of games accounting for five or more touchdowns to four (all four away from Autzen Stadium), and finish the regular season with the nation's most yards per attempt (10.1) and fewest interceptions (two) among quarterbacks with more than 300 pass attempts.
And they saw Mariota do that in his worst game of the year, in terms of passer rating. Mariota's 150.14 mark last night is, somehow, his lowest number of the year. Just 17 quarterbacks have better passer ratings on the season than Mariota's lowest game.
One of them is Mariota, of course, who leads the nation in passer rating; his 186.10 mark is slightly better than the 184.85 Jameis Winston finished with last year.
What would Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon or Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, who basically had to hope that Mariota threw four picks and ended up being a non-factor in a loss, have to do to earn a first-place vote? Let's set records as their bar.
Gordon has 2,260 rushing yards; Barry Sanders, through 11 games in 1988, had 2,628. Sanders would add 222 more in a bowl, which didn't get added to the official tally back then. If Gordon runs for 369 yards against Ohio State Saturday night, he will break Sanders' Division I record (set in two fewer games) ... and, unless he scores 10 touchdowns, won't have as many as Sanders did entering that bowl game.
Ohio State's run defense isn't great. It gave up 281 yards to Indiana on 36 carries two weeks ago. But Gordon would have to have just about the best game by a college running back ever (again!) to challenge Sanders' mark. Challenging it is really not going to change anything.
Cooper has 1,573 receiving yards. He's not the national leader in that category, but he will be, as long as he has at least 68 yards in the SEC Championship. To break the record for receiving yardage in one season (held by Nevada's Trevor Insley, who had 2,060 in 1999), Cooper would need 487 receiving yards against Missouri.
The Division I record for receiving yards in a game is 405, held by Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards, who had 21 catches in a 1998 game against Nebraska. Cooper's never had more than 13 catches or 224 yards in a game. So that's not happening.
Mariota is winning the Heisman. There's nothing Gordon or Cooper can do about it.