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Mariota Still Top Heisman Contender, Oregon to Face UCLA This Week

With the calendar moving closer to December, the Heisman Trophy talk is heating up. At the top of the conversation remains #3 Oregon (7-0, 4-0) quarterback Marcus Mariota.


Marcus Mariota

In a Monday vote by USA Today, Mariota received 58 points as the leader (17 of 22 first place votes), followed by #2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0) quarterback Jameis Winston with 37 points. As college football fans know already, 2013 is all about the quarterback and the eight players noted in this week’s first survey were signal callers.

From the West, #17 Fresno State’s (6-0, 3-0) quarterback Derek Carr was in the sixth spot, with #25 Oregon State (6-1, 4-0) quarterback Sean Mannion as the last player to make the list at No. 8.

Vegas has been doling out Heisman odds for weeks and Mariota has also been at the top. He currently sits at 10/11. In last week’s 62-38 win against Washington State (4-4, 2-3), he completed 23 of 32 passes, 327 yards with two touchdowns. On the ground, he added 67 yards with one more score.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Mariota will face a tough test when his team hosts #12 UCLA (51, 2-1). In each of his 20 career games, he’s thrown a minimum of one touchdown pass along with a streak of passing and running touchdowns to nine consecutive games. Mariota also has great accuracy as he’s had 265 attempts without a pick–a Pac-12 record.

Against Washington State, Ducks running back Byron Marshall incurred a career-high day with 192 yards rushing. This represented 100-yard rushing game No. 5 this season.

From this great play, the Ducks sit at No. 2 nationally for total offense (643.1 yards per game) and scoring (57.6 points per game). Good luck going up against UCLA defense. It has kept its first six opponents to less than 30 points. Against Stanford, Bruins safety Randall Goforth had a career-high day with 19 tackles.

But you’ll hear more about the UCLA offense as it is one of four conference teams that sits among the top 20 for scoring (No. 20 FBS with 39.8 points per game). In last week’s 24-10 loss to #6 Stanford (6-1, 4-1), the Bruins gave up 14 points in the third quarter to the Cardinals– a first for the team this season for any points even allowed in this quarter.

In their last meeting at the 2011 Pac-12 championship game, Oregon won 49-31. They’ll get the win again this year (-22.5).

For other Pac-12 games this week, there’s #6 Stanford traveling to #25 Oregon State.

In last year’s meeting, Stanford won 27-23. It represented quarterback Kevin Hogan’s first Stanford career start; he went 22-of-29 passes, 254 yards and three touchdowns.

Last week against UCLA, the player went 18 for 25, 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception while his running back Tyler Gaffney ran for a career-high day 171 yards from his career-best 36 carries. He also had two touchdowns.

Oregon State's Sean Mannion

Sean Mannion

Oregon State has a top quarterback with Mannion. In last week’s 49-17 win against California (1-6, 0-4), he had 481 passing yards and set a conference consecutive-game passing record with his 971 yards. In the previous week against Washington State, he set a school record with his 493 yards.

Mannion sits at the top of the nation with his 427.4 passing yards per game. He has great offensive line protection as it’s only given up nine sacks over seven games.

One of Mannion’s favorite weapons is wide receiver Brandin Cooks. He’s at the top nationally for receiving with his 13 receptions for 232 yards (No. 2 in OSU history) versus Washington State. To date, he has 76 receptions for 1,176 receiving yards. He is also at the top in the country with his 12 touchdown receptions.

For the Beavers, their schedule will take a challenging turn, starting with the Stanford this week. Their next five games are against opponents that have a 26-9 combined record. This compares to the 12-16 combined record from their earlier opponents.

Saturday’s game will be a nice wake up call as Stanford gets the win (-4.5).

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