Melvin Gordon

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

OU’s Perine breaks NCAA rushing record

Former TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson held the NCAA single-game rushing record for roughly 15 years. Wisconsin junior running back Melvin Gordon, who took it from him, held the record for only a week.

Neither a lightning delay nor the Kansas defense could stop Oklahoma freshman running back Samaje Perine just Saturday, as Perine surpassed Gordon’s mark of 408 rushing yards with 427 yards on the ground in the 44-7 win over Kansas. Perine had five rushing touchdowns as well — all from at least 27 yards out. 

The back-to-back record-setting games for Gordon and Perine come after Tomlinson was the only running back to rush for over 400 yards in college football history.

Rudolph gets the start for Oklahoma State

After junior quarterback Daxx Garman suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas on Nov. 15, there were a number of questions about whether he would be ready to play or if freshman Mason Rudolph would get his first start at Baylor. That question was answered pretty quickly, as Rudolph trotted out with the offense on the Cowboys’ opening possession against the Bears, and, even though the result was a loss, he had a pretty solid debut. Rudolph finished the night 13-of-25 with 281 passing yards and two touchdowns against the top defense in the conference. His stats were also good enough to be the best first career start for a quarterback in Oklahoma
State history.

Tech defense down on safeties

To say the Texas Tech defense has had it rough this season might be the understatement of the year. First, its defensive coordinator was fired just a few weeks into the season. Then, said defensive coordinator allegedly gave away the defensive signals to Tech’s opponents. And now, the Red Raiders are down to their last two players at safety. Three safeties went down in Texas Tech’s 34-31 win over Iowa State on Saturday and another didn’t make the trip to Ames, Iowa, forcing freshman safety Derrick Dixon and junior defensive back John White into the game — the last two players who could play the position. There’s no word yet on the severity of those three injuries, but Tech’s odds against Baylor this Saturday just got a lot longer.

Minnesota helps out TCU with close win

In the ongoing debate between Baylor and TCU, Horned Frogs fans have pointed to two arguments that make their case: their 14-point win at West Virginia and their slightly better non-conference schedule, thanks to a win at home against Minnesota. On Saturday, that argument got a little better as Minnesota picked up a big 28-24 win over Nebraska to keep the Golden Gophers in the Big Ten West race and added to the Horned Frogs strength of schedule. So far, the selection committee has said Baylor and TCU’s résumés are not equal — making the head-to-head matchup irrelevant — with the assumption that TCU’s win over Minnesota is better than Baylor’s non-conference wins against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. Each team will get one more “showcase” game to impress the committee, with TCU playing at Texas on Thanksgiving Day and Baylor facing Kansas State on Dec. 6.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Last week (W, 51-27, vs. Utah): 17-for-29, 239 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 114 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

2014: 2,780 passing yards, 29 passing TDs, 2 INTs, 524 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs

If there’s one safe bet to be made in the midst of college football’s unpredictable regular season conclusion, it should be made on the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks’ last two regular season contests come against Colorado and Oregon State — two teams that Oregon should brush off with ease. An equally safe bet can be made on Mariota’s performance against the lesser opponents. It would be shocking if the junior does not tear apart both defenses and add more accolades to his already impressive Heisman résumé. Mariota and the Ducks look like serious championship contenders right now, and, at least for the near future, Mariota’s Heisman lead appears safe. 

2. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week (W, 45-16 vs.Tennessee-Martin): 14-for-23, 206 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 54 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

2014: 2,231 passing yards, 18 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 779 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs

To say that this is an important week for Prescott’s Heisman hopes would be a major understatement. On Saturday, the breakthrough player of the year will lead his first-ranked Bulldogs into Tuscaloosa for the game of the week against Alabama. And although the Tide have been shaky this year, they’ve been absolutely dominant at home. Beating them there takes mistake-free play from a quarterback, and then some. Prescott has struggled with consistency in recent weeks, but he turned it around last Saturday against Tennessee-Martin. Prescott’s greatest responsibility will be to take care of the ball, and, if he can’t do that, the Bulldogs are certain to lose, eliminating any chance he has of winning college football’s most prestigious award. 

3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Last week (W, 34-16, vs. Purdue): 25 rushing attempts, 1 rushing TD, 44 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

2014: 198 rushing attempts, 1,501 rushing yards, 19 rushing TDs, 2 receiving TDs

It’s easy to take Gordon’s performance for granted because he’s been so consistent, and his impressive numbers have become the expectation. But what Gordon has accomplished this season has been spectacular. Gordon is at, or near, the top of every rushing statistic, including the most important one: total rushing yard. It takes just one play to realize why Gordon is the Wisconsin offense’s most important piece. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t finish strong in the Badgers’ last two regular season games and put a stamp on one of the greatest running back campaigns in recent history. 

4. TCU QB Trevone Boykin

Last week (W, 41-20, vs. Kansas State): 23-for-34, 219 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 123 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs

2014: 2,691 passing yards, 23 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 546 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs

Boykin has delivered when the pressure has been greatest. Last week, he did it again in what was supposed to be a close contest against Kansas State, in which Boykin easily led the Horned Frogs to a blowout win. Without Boykin, TCU probably wouldn’t even be relevant, let alone in the College Football Playoff conversation. The former receiver has done everything and more to make up for TCU’s poor defense, single-handedly dragging his team to a 9-1 record and a chance to play for a national championship. 

5. Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Last week (W, 20-13 (OT), vs. LSU): 8 receptions, 83 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

2014: 79 receptions, 1,215 receiving yards, 10 receiving TDs

Aside from a dropped pass late in the fourth quarter that could have made things easier for the Tide last week, Cooper turned in another impressive performance against a solid LSU defense. Having such a major impact is nothing new to Cooper, who is having as good a season as an Alabama receiver ever has. He’s second in the nation in receiving yards and near the top in every other category, but, more importantly, he’s the most important element of Alabama’s offensive attack. As the Tide find themselves fighting for a spot in the final four, nobody will be as vital in getting them there as Cooper.

1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Last week (W, 45-16 vs. Stanford): 19-for-30, 258 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 INT, 85 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 2,541 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 2 INTs, 410 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs

Of all the great things Mariota had accomplished, beating Stanford wasn’t on that list until last week. Mariota led the Ducks to their first win over the Cardinal in three years. And if that’s not enough proof of just how well Mariota is playing right now, then consider his statistics. Four total touchdowns and 343 all-purpose yards against Stanford were more than enough to dispel the greatest demon of Mariota’s time at Oregon. The pre-season Heisman favorite somehow appears to be getting better and better each week. As Oregon’s chances to get into the College Football Playoff increases, so will Mariota’s Heisman odds.

2. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week (W, 17-10, vs. Arkansas): 18-for-27, 331 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INTs, 61 rushing yards

2014: 2,025 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 725 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs

You can’t play inconsistently and expect to sit atop the Heisman race, and Prescott is no exception. He’s played like a star most of the season, but his three interceptions in the last two games and nail-biting victories over average teams are not going to cut it by the time the Heisman winner is announced in December. Prescott has still kept his Bulldogs undefeated and ranked first in the nation, but he’s got to regain his consistency if he’s going to win this award.

3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Last week (W, 37-0, vs. Rutgers): 19 attempts, 128 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 173 attempts, 1,296 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD

It’s been more than two months since the last time Gordon failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. Now that you’ve let that sink in, here’s another stat that puts the 6-foot-1-inch, 213-pound junior in a class of his own: this season, Gordon has accounted for more than a third of his team’s total offense. As a running back, there’s not much more you can do for your team than that. Gordon has also scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his last six games and is rushing for 162 yards per game — the second-highest average in the country. 

4. Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Last week: BYE

2014: 71 receptions, 1,132 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs 

Cooper has been one of the biggest reasons for Alabama’s rebound after the Oct. 4 loss to Ole Miss. In the three wins since that loss, Cooper has totaled 386 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Two weeks ago against Tennessee, his 224 receiving yards were more than the Volunteers’ total passing yardage in the contest, and he accounted for 78 percent of the Tide’s passing yardage total. It’s been simple this season — when Cooper has a good game, the Tide win big. With four regular-season games left, it’ll be up to him to push the Crimson Tide into the playoff. 

5. TCU QB Trevone Boykin

Last week (W, 31-30, vs. West Virginia): 12-for-30, 166 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 1 INT, 49 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD

2014: 2,472 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 423 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs

Just how potent has Boykin made his TCU offense this season? The answer can be found in TCU’s embarrassment of Texas Tech two weeks ago. In that game, Boykin threw for 433 passing yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, as TCU throttled the Red Raiders, 82-27 — highest ever point total for a Big 12 conference matchup. Beyond that contest, Boykin has been the centerpiece of a TCU offense that is ranked second in scoring offense, third in total offense and sixth in passing offense in the nation. With the Dallas native under center, the Horned Frogs have yet to score less than 30 points in a game.

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota continues to find his name at the forefront of the Heisman conversation, despite the Ducks loss to Arizona. The junior has been the most consistent pivot in the country this season and has yet to throw an interception.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

1. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week: BYE

2014: 1,478 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs

Even without playing, Prescott remained a topic of discussion among college football’s talking heads last week, and for good reason. Based on what the Heisman front-runner has already accomplished this fall, it’s difficult for most to contain the anticipation of what Prescott will do for his team in the coming weeks. Neither Prescott nor Mississippi State have been in the positions they are in. As the leader of the nation’s top program, Prescott has the opportunity to prove that he can handle every test thrown his way.

2. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota 

Last week (W, 45-20, vs. Washington): 24-for-33, 336 passing yards, 2 TDs

2014: 1,957 passing yards, 19 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 289 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

The Ducks have silenced critics over the past two weeks after their loss to Arizona, and, through it all, Mariota has kept the same poise he is known for. It seems impossible to startle the junior in any situation. Against Washington, his numbers weren’t prolific, but it’s the intangibles that showed up once again on each drive, which led Oregon to an easy 25-point win. Field generals don’t come better made than Mariota, and although Oregon still has tough opponents ahead, it’s difficult to bet against the leader of this Duck team. 

3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon 

Last week: BYE

2014: 132 attempts, 1,046 rushing yards, 13 TDs, 1 receiving TD

With Todd Gurley’s status still unknown, Gordon stands alone as the best running back in college football. The title is well deserved, as the 6-foot-1-inch, 207-pound junior has been on another level this season. Gordon has scored multiple touchdowns almost every Saturday this fall, and, with a nation-best 174 yards per game average, Gordon’s has heavily impacted every matchup.

4. Alabama WR Amari Cooper 

Last week (W, 59-0, vs. Texas A&M): 8 receptions, 140 yards, 2 TDs

2014: 62 receptions, 908 yards, 7 TDs

There were plenty of opportunities to shine in Alabama’s blowout over Texas A&M last week, and Cooper took full advantage. He looked untouchable against the Aggie defense, as he has many times this fall. But, the greatest part about Cooper’s stat line against the Aggies is the realization that those kinds of numbers have been the norm for Tide receiver. The way Cooper has been playing, he looks like he’s the only Crimson Tide target on the field at times. He’s been that good.

5. Florida State QB Jameis Winston

Last week (W, 31-27, vs. Notre Dame): 23-for-31, 273 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 

2014: 1,878 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 2 rushing TDs

Somehow, Winston’s slew of off-the-field issues haven’t affected his on-field performance at all as he’s roared back into the Heisman conversation. Of course, getting back into this race is easier when you do what Winston has done all season long — win. After a year and a half, Winston is still undefeated as a starter at Florida State. Against Notre Dame, he completed 15 of his 16 passes in the second half and led the Seminoles to three critical touchdowns to defeat then-No. 5 Fighting Irish.