Mariota leads Heisman Trophy finalists

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New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Leading his team to a Pac-12 title and a berth in the national semifinals has Marcus Mariota poised to win the biggest individual honor in college football.

The Oregon Ducks quarterback was one of three players named Monday as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and is seen as the runaway favorite to win the award after a stunning statistical season.

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper were also named as finalists for the award.

The winner will be announced during Saturday's ceremony in New York.

Mariota, a redshirt junior, is the most prolific quarterback in Oregon history and has led the Ducks (12-1) to 35 wins in his three seasons as the starter.

He has passed for 3,773 yards and 38 touchdowns this season with 669 yards rushing and another 14 scores.

He completed 68.3 percent of his 372 passes with just two interceptions on the season and accounted for 346 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-13 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 title game on Friday.

Oregon ended the season No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings and will face reigning national champion Florida State and last year's Heisman winner, quarterback Jameis Winston, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Cooper's Crimson Tide (12-1) -- the No. 1 team in the playoff rankings -- will take on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

The winners of those games will play for the national championship on Jan. 12.

Gordon rushed for a then-FBS record 408 yards against Nebraska last month and ended the season with an FBS-leading 2,336 yards rushing, the fourth-best total all-time. He scored 26 on 309 carries but had just 76 yards on 26 carries in Saturday's 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

The redshirt junior's single-game rushing record set Nov. 15 in a 59-24 win over the Cornhuskers was broken seven days later by Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine.

The previous record was set by NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson for TCU in 1999.

Cooper, a junior, had an SEC-record 115 catches for a national-best 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games this season. He had an Iron Bowl-record 224 yards receiving in Alabama's 55-44 win over rival Auburn on Nov. 29 and caught 12 passes in Saturday's win over Missouri in the SEC championship game.

Oregon has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Mariota is the third Ducks player to be named a finalist for the award following quarterback Joey Harrington, who finished fourth in the voting in 2001, and running back LaMichael James, who placed third behind Cam Newton and Andrew Luck in 2010.

He has thrown for 10,115 yards and 101 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions in his college career with another 2,136 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing.

A quarterback has won 12 of the past 14 Heisman Trophies, with the other two going to running backs Reggie Bush for the 2005 season and Mark Ingram in 2009. Bush gave back his award after it was vacated due to sanctions against USC.

Gordon would be Wisconsin's third winner after running backs Alan Ameche in 1954 and Ron Dayne in 1999. Running back Montee Ball, who finished fourth in the 2011 voting, was Wisconsin's only other finalist.

Cooper would be Alabama's second Heisman winner after Ingram and is the fourth Crimson Tide player to be invited to the award presentation since that year. No wide receiver has won the award since Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991.