The 80th annual Heisman Trophy Presentation begins Saturday night with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon all vying for the most coveted and prestigious award in college football.
Odds makers have pegged the Ducks quarterback Mariota as the heavy favorite, not only for his stellar 38-touchdown season, but also due to recent history. A quarterback has won the Heisman seven of the last eight times. Former Alabama running back Mark Ingram was the last non-quarterback to win the award back in 2009.
Mariota’s stats are impressive and they certainly align well with the most recent quarterbacks to claim the award. Oregon owns the nation’s third ranked offense with 46.3 points per game, and the junior Mariota racked up 3,783 passing yards and 38 TDs to three interceptions, and was just as lethal outside the pocket with 669 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
Three of the last four Heisman winners, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Auburn’s Cam Newton, were all quarterbacks who could do equal damage with their legs and Mariota could soon join their company.
Ingram’s success could be an encouraging sign for Gordon, but not so for Cooper. The last receiver to win the Heisman was Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991, and he pulled double duty as a punt returner.
Both Gordon and Cooper led the nation at their respective positions. The Badgers rusher accumulated 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns, helping his team go 10-3 and claim the Big Ten West division. Gordon also, however briefly, held the college record for most rushing yards in a game, smashing rival Nebraska for 408 yards and four touchdowns in only three quarters. But his 76-yard performance in the 59-0 blowout loss to Ohio State in the conference championship likely deterred voters.
Cooper is the best player on the unanimous best team in the country, the Crimson Tide. He led receivers across the country with 115 receptions for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns, and lifted Alabama to the SEC title and the top seed in the first College Football Playoff.
In order to win the award, Mariota, Gordon and Cooper needed to convince a total of 929 voters around the country. The Heisman Trust breaks the country up into six different regions with every state given a proportional amount of votes depending on their size. Sports journalists make up 870 votes, former living Heisman winners account for 58 votes, and one vote was given to fans who voted online.
Fans could vote for other players besides the three finalists, which watered down the results some, but Mariota won 25 percent of the vote, Copper picked up nine percent and Gordon six.
Start Time: 8 P.M. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online Stream: To watch live online go to Watch ESPN here