Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon, Amari Cooper named Heisman finalists
The 80th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation will be held Saturday in New York City.
Mariota, widely considered the Heisman favorite, won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award Monday as the country's best fourth-year quarterback. Oregon finished the season No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, drawing a Rose Bowl berth vs. No. 3 Florida State. Mariota finished with 3,783 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and two interceptions. His average of 10.2 yards per attempt leads the country, while his 38 touchdowns rank second and his 3,783 passing yards rank fifth.
In Saturday's Pac-12 championship game vs. Arizona, Mariota scored five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) to extend his Pac-12 single-season record for total touchdowns to 53.
Gordon enjoyed a record-breaking season, becoming the fastest player to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a season and temporarily breaking the FBS single-game rushing record with 408 yards vs. Nebraska on Nov. 15 (Oklahoma's Samaje Perine broke the record with 427 yards vs. Kansas the following week). For the season, Gordon has 2,336 rushing yards -- leading the nation by 300 yards -- and 26 touchdowns, which also lead the country.
Gordon averaged 241 rushing yards per game over Wisconsin's final four regular-season contests before Ohio State stymied the Badgers' offense in a 59-0 rout in Saturday's Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes held Gordon to 76 yards on 26 carries, and also forced a fumble in the second quarter that led to a touchdown. Still, as SI's Zac Ellis pointed out in his latest Heisman Watch, Gordon has 31 rushes of 20 yards or longer. That's more than 118 FBS teams.
Cooper leads the nation with 115 receptions (an SEC single-season record) for 1,656 yards, and his 14 touchdowns are tied for second. Alabama finished No. 1 in the Playoff rankings and will face No. 4 Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. The winner will play the Oregon-Florida State winner.
Cooper's Heisman candidacy reached its peak after Alabama's Iron Bowl win over Auburn on Nov. 29. Cooper finished with his second 224-yard receiving day of the season, catching 13 passes and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide outgunned the Tigers for a 55-44 win.
- Mike Fiammetta