Mariota keeps adding to his highlight reel
Any Heisman Trophy campaign for Marcus Mariota should surely include his touchdown flip.
The junior quarterback for the No. 2 Oregon Ducks, already among the favorites for college football's biggest individual postseason honor, had four touchdowns in Oregon's 48-14 victory over Wyoming on Saturday.
It was his second-quarter keeper that was the most impressive of the bunch. From the Cowboys' 19, Mariota rolled right, looking to pass. But receiver Keanon Lowe got tied up blocking a defender in the corner of the end zone. So Mariota scrambled toward the goal line before going airborne and somersaulting over the pair.
Video replay confirmed the TD.
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich had a few words for Mariota afterward.
''He told me right after I got off to the sideline to never do that again. I'll take that as a warning,'' the quarterback said with a smile.
Overall, Mariota threw for 221 yards and two scores while running for 71 yards and two more TDs against the Cowboys. He has thrown for a touchdown in all 29 games he's played at Oregon, and Saturday's game was the 13th time he's both run and passed for a touchdown in the same game.
''I don't know if anybody here has a vote for the Heisman Trophy, but I would encourage you to take a look at your ballot for that quarterback,'' Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. ''He's a tremendous player and I thought he played really well today.''
The touchdown flip brought a roar from the Autzen Stadium crowd, but the Ducks collectively held their breath waiting for their quarterback to rise safely off the turf.
''I hope he never does that ever again,'' Lowe said. ''It was pretty awesome but I'd rather he run out of bounds at the two.''
Mariota, however, isn't one to exercise caution when it comes to football.
''You can't really think about those types of things because that is when you'll get hurt,'' he said. ''My dad always told me, if you play cautious then you're playing at half-speed and you end up getting yourself hurt. I always take the warnings from the coaches, but I'll end up doing what I have to do.''
Mariota keeps amassing Oregon records. He tops the Ducks' all-time list in total offense and has a school-best 71 passing touchdowns. Against Wyoming he became the fourth Oregon quarterback to go over 7,000 career passing yards.
Overall this season he has thrown for 806 yards and eight touchdowns, while running for 156 yards and three scores.
Mariota was also a Heisman candidate last season before a knee injury hampered him down the stretch and the Ducks finished 11-2. He finished with 31 touchdown passes with only four interceptions, and ran for 715 yards and nine more scores. His 4,380 yards of total offense set a school record.
At season's end there was speculation last season that he'd jump to opportunities in the NFL, but Mariota announced early on that he was sticking with the Ducks.
In large part because of Mariota's return, the Ducks were picked before the season started to win the Pac-12 championship. He has never won a league title; Darron Thomas was the quarterback when Oregon won in 2011.
Now the Ducks are among the favorites for a spot in college football's first playoffs after opening the season at 3-0 and sitting at No. 2 in the AP rankings.
The touchdown flip is just the latest replay-worthy move that Mariota has made. The week before it was an on-the-run shovel pass to freshman running back Royce Freeman that gave the Ducks a key first down in their 46-27 victory over then No. 7 Michigan State.
''You get what you see on film,'' said Spartans senior safety Kurtis Drummond. ''The guy can make plays.''
And apparently flip, too.
''The dynamic nature of his play, how he likes to improvise,'' Helfrich said. ''That's one of our biggest strengths.''