Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - A late riser makes his debut in the Heisman Rankings this week after another record-breaking Saturday, but the favorites remain unchanged as we head towards the final full weekend of the regular season.
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (last week: No. 1) -- The Ducks' quarterback held onto the top spot after yet another dominant performance in a 44-10 victory over Colorado. Mariota completed 24-of-32 passes for 323 yards - his fifth 300-yard passing performance of the season - with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was equally dynamic on the ground, turning eight carries into 73 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run on a read-option play in the first quarter where he went into the end zone untouched after fooling the entire CU defense. Mariota, who has over 3,600 total yards, has not only been dominant, but remarkably consistent with at least 270 total yards and multiple touchdowns in every game, and his 42 touchdowns give him the Pac-12 record. Unless something catastrophic happens in the next two weeks, he's going to be the runaway winner.
2. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (last week: No. 2) -- Gordon probably wasn't pleased to see Samaje Perine break his single-game rushing record after only week, and if he and the Badgers had to do it over again he probably would have played some of the fourth quarter against Nebraska to pad that record a little more. Losing the record hasn't hurt Gordon's Heisman chances, however, as he continued to rack up astounding numbers over the weekend. Wisconsin needed all of Gordon's production to squeak out a 26-24 victory over Iowa, as he finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, while also tacking on solid receiving totals (four catches, 64 yards). Gordon (2,109 yards, 25 TDs) reached the 2,000-yard plateau faster than anyone in FBS history, doing so midway through the Iowa game on just his 242nd carry of campaign - meaning that Barry Sanders' seemingly unbreakable single-season rushing record (2,628 yards) is very much in jeopardy.
3. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (last week: No. 4) -- At the start of Barrett's reign as the Buckeyes' quarterback, the Braxton Miller comparisons were inevitable. He's not only broken free of Miller's shadow, but is putting together perhaps the best season by a quarterback in program history. With another sterling performance in Ohio State's 42-27 victory over Indiana (25- of-35 passing, 302 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, 78 rushing yards), Barrett broke Miller's school record for total yards in a season, as he now sits with 3,507 (2,658 passing, 849 rushing). That wasn't the only record to fall, as he also broke Troy Smith's mark for passing touchdowns in a season with 33 and counting (42 overall). Even if Ohio State beats Michigan this week and wins the Big Ten Championship Game, it still might not have a strong enough resume' to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. However, that won't make the heights achieved by a freshman quarterback any less impressive.
4. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (last week: No. 3) -- The Horned Frogs' bye week has Boykin's stock holding steady for the most part. TCU is on the outside looking in for that coveted fourth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, but it is still right in the mix at 9-1, and Boykin (3,021 passing yards, 548 rushing yards, 31 TDs, five interceptions) will have the opportunity help both his Heisman candidacy and his team's championship hopes as he closes out the regular season with matchups at Texas and versus Iowa State in the coming weeks.
5. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (last week: No. 7) -- The Bulldogs' quarterback rightfully lost a lot of momentum after his team's loss to Alabama Nov. 15, but he went a long way in erasing that painful memory in the 51-0 shutout of Vanderbilt with a near-flawless performance. On 16-of-21 passing, he finished with 193 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, while adding six rushes for 30 yards and a score in the easy victory to keep his team's hopes of an SEC title alive. Even if Mississippi State can't earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, its resume' at the moment is still strong enough to get the attention of the selection committee with the No. 4 ranking, and that success is thanks in no small measure to Prescott's outstanding campaign (2,714 passing yards, 891 rushing yards, 36 TDs, 10 interceptions).
6. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (last week: No. 9) -- While Oregon's fate as the Pac-12 North Division champion has been sealed, the battle for the South is coming down to the wire, and the Bruins went a long way in clearing their path to the crown over the weekend with a 38-20 victory over cross-town rival USC in perhaps the most important game of the college football weekend. Hundley was predictably outstanding in the triumph. For the ninth time this season, he completed better than 70 percent of his passes (22-of-31), while throwing for 326 yards and accounting for four touchdowns, leaving him with 2,873 passing yards, 566 rushing yards and 28 scores this season, coupled with a mere five interceptions. UCLA will sew up the South Division on Friday if it can take care of Stanford, setting up a rematch with Oregon in the conference championship game where Hundley can potentially kill two birds with one stone in spoiling the Ducks' season, and Mariota's Heisman chances.
7. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (last week: unranked) -- After LaDainian Tomlinson's rushing record stood for more than a decade, Perine erased Gordon's mark just seven days after it was set. In Oklahoma's 44-7 romp of Kansas, the freshman running back rewrote the FBS record book with a 427-yard performance, doing so on 34 carries while scoring five touchdowns. Although Perine put together some highlights early in the season - notably a 242-yard showing at West Virginia in September - he had been relegated to a part-time role in the offense until recently, and he's taken full advantage of his new- found opportunity by rushing for a whopping 640 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two weeks. The chance of him emerging so late in the season to become a Heisman finalist is slim, especially with Oklahoma now an afterthought in the Big 12, but the future is undoubtedly bright for the youngster.
8. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (last week: No. 5) -- Cooper was well on his way to another big game early in the Crimson Tide's matchup with Western Carolina over the weekend, as he had three catches for 46 yards in the first quarter. But he had to leave the game with a bruised knee. Luckily, the injury doesn't appear to be serious, as coach Nick Saban revealed after the game that Cooper likely could have returned if needed, but the team opted to hold him out as a precaution in the convincing 48-14 victory. Having topped 100 yards receiving just twice in the last seven games, Coopers' campaign has lost steam, but a receiver who ranks in the top-five nationally in receptions (90), yards (1,349) and touchdowns (11) on the No. 2 team in the land still deserves plenty of recognition.
9. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (last week: No. 10) -- Chubb's services weren't needed very often in the Bulldogs' 55-9 blowout of Charleston Southern, but he nonetheless cashed in on his limited opportunities by turning a mere nine carries into 113 yards and two touchdowns for his sixth straight 100-yard outing. Todd Gurley is certainly an irreplaceable piece, but there's no denying Chubb's elite production in his stead this season, as he sits with 1,152 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on just 161 carries, to go with solid receiving totals (15 receptions, 177 yards, two TDs). With Georgia's SEC slate closed, it will need to wait to have its fate in the Eastern Division decided when Missouri plays Arkansas on Friday. If the Tigers fall, an entirely possible outcome considering Arkansas' recent surge, then Chubb and the Bulldogs will get an opportunity to improve their stock in the SEC Championship Game, but not before a clash with rival Georgia Tech this Saturday.
10. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (last week: No. 6) -- Although the Seminoles remained unbeaten over the weekend, they continued to do so while looking anything but the nation's No. 1 team. In a home game against a mediocre Boston College squad, FSU needed a game-winning field goal by Roberto Aguayo with three seconds remaining to squeak by with a 20-17 victory. Winston, despite competing nearly 69 percent of his passes, was far from great, as he threw for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The reigning Heisman winner is falling well short of the pace he set last season with 3,125 passing yards, 22 total touchdowns and 13 interceptions. At this point, the only thing keeping Winston alive in the Heisman race is his team's uncanny ability to stay out of the loss column.
Dropped Out: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Honorable Mention: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor; Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana; Gerod Holliman; DB, Louisville.