The Heisman Debate: Mariota and Winston Lead The Way, But The Dak Attack Gets Its Chance Versus Alabama

The Bloguin Heisman Poll, compiled by TSS contributor Kevin Causey, is published every Tuesday morning. You can see the latest poll here, complete with comments and comparisons to the previous three Heisman seasons.

Since we’re deep into the season and have only four weekends left before the ceremony in New York, let’s take a fuller look at the race to be recognized as the most outstanding player in college football for 2014. TSS editors Bart Doan and Matt Zemek discuss the Heisman in detail:


You get to vote for the top three players in the country in the Bloguin Heisman Poll. Let’s expand that list to get a fuller sense of where the race stands.

If you voted on the top seven spots, with players 4 and 5 getting a plane ticket to New York and players 6 and 7 being just below the cut line, where would you vote? What are you looking for the rest of the way?

Matt Zemek:

On Twitter: @SectionMZ

We have cleared the second Saturday of November, so now — only now — do I personally think it’s time to dive into Heisman talk.

First, this race is not nearly as clear as it was last season. Jameis Winston owned last year’s race. This year — in a way that’s somewhat similar to Johnny Manziel’s 2013 season, following his 2012 — Winston is still piling up numbers, but with a lot more turnovers and ragged edges. The difference between Manziel 2013 and Winston 2014, of course, is that Winston’s still winning, and more specifically, he’s a comeback artist of the highest order. Winston’s clutch gene is so powerful that he’s remained in the thick of the race.

Joining him are Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Trevone Boykin of TCU, two quarterbacks who have been relentlessly consistent save for a few rare slip-ups.

I would put Mariota at the top of this list because he has made so few mistakes this season, also because he was operating without much of an offensive line for multiple games and still found solutions for his team, carrying it through the first half of the 12-game (soon to be 13-game, with the Pac-12 title tilt) regular-season schedule. Winston has had to deal with limitations on Florida State’s offensive roster, but Mariota faced a bigger crisis. That gives him the nod over Winston, with Boykin sitting in third place.

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota

In fourth place, I have Dak Prescott of Mississippi State. His time to either rise or fall comes this Saturday in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide.

In fifth place, I have Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, chiefly because he’s had no passing game to work with and has still produced at a high level. Gordon faces a moment of truth against Nebraska.

In sixth place, I have J.T. Barrett of Ohio State, who can climb into a finalist’s position if he continues to play lights-out ball down the stretch.

In seventh place, I have Ole Miss defensive back Senquez Golson, who has simply been an interception magnet all season long.


Bart Doan:

On Twitter: @TheCoachBart

My thoughts on the Heisman race are well documented at this point. Jameis Winston is the best player in college football, and if you shoot every coach, analyst, fan, with truth serum and ask them: all things considered evenly, you have one game for a title. You get to pick a QB and then the opponent gets to pick his. Who ya got? They’re all saying Winston. He’s a winner.

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston


After that, Dak Prescott has been a pretty good damn winner himself this year, and then in terms of pure football player, I love what Jarvion Franklin of Western Michigan, Tevin Coleman of Indiana, and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin do every Saturday. Kevin White of West Virginia is also 150 proof.

The Heisman has basically become “best quarterback on a team in contention for a title” at this point. I think there’s a lot of football to be played, but I’d go Winston, Prescott, Coleman, Gordon, Franklin, Marcus Mariota of Oregon, and White as guys I put in a different class.

If we’re just talking about giving a few extra free trip tickets, you can go wherever you want with that one. I think Winston is very far ahead as long as he keeps winning and Prescott has a healthy cushion betwixt No. 2 and anyone below him.

What do I need to see? Wins. That’s what I always need to see. You can murder numbers any way you want to, but in the end, they don’t give out rings for flashy digits and statistics. They give it for winning.

Does that mean “the best player in college football” doesn’t always get the award? Probably. But like I said, if you want to go the “best player in college football” route, Coleman and White are guys with unbelievable talent who are keyed on on every week. Give the award to one of them and I’ll be just fine.

As it stands, Prescott probably ends up winning it if the Bulldogs keep winning because the media has decided they don’t like Jameis Winston. What happens if, say, Oregon loses again and Mississippi State loses again … and Florida State keeps winning?

Johnny Manziel very well might have been the best player in college football last year … but again, the media was tired of him. He was click bait at this point. “Oh my gosh, Johnny’s drinking Miller Lite!” and all of that. Winston was an easy attention segue that made sense to give the Heisman to for about 100 reasons.

I don’t think that exists this year. Voters basically being forced to consider Winston would be delicious, and if he keeps winning, they’ll have to.