What We Learned (Heisman Edition)
Marcus Mariota walked up on stage, accepted the most prestigious trophy in college athletics, and choked back tears. It was something he earned this year, something he had worked toward last year, and something he might not have dreamed about when he first went to college - given that only two programs offered him at all. One was Oregon, and the other Memphis.
Lost in the shuffle of Mariota's well-deserved victory was the fact that it came against non-quarterbacks who enjoyed rarefied seasons. As a wide receiver, it's harder to get better than what Amari Cooper put up in 2014: 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns so far, with a 71% catch rate and almost half of his team's total passing offense. He did it for a Tide team that's #1 in the country because of how much they've improved on Cooper's side of the ball.
Melvin Gordon did even better, putting up a throwback 2,336 yards - good for fourth all-time - with 29 total touchdowns and 2,638 all-purpose yards. His 7.56 yards per carry is flirting with the NCAA's best mark, 7.81. Gordon's 2014 season was better than most Heisman winners of the last 20 years at that position, but it was only good enough for a distant second place.
Part of that falls on how the Badgers performed, as just a 10-3 team, but it also brings into question the death grip that the quarterback position has on the Heisman Trophy. Thirteen of the last fourteen winners have been QBs, but in spirit it's still a competition between all the positions. Some of the names getting thrown around as Heisman hopefuls for next year include Samaje Perine, Nick Chubb, Scooby Wright and Royce Freeman - but what are the odds that they actually win it? Being a terrific quarterback is an easy way onto the Heisman list. For running backs, receivers, or defensive players, it takes a whole lot more than that.
Hitting the Links Stays Home
The man who coached Ohio State's most successful position is headed to Houston, which has a recent history of explosive offenses. UH is just one of many successful football programs in Texas, after Baylor, UT, Texas Tech and TCU.
ESPN's list is an interesting collection of stars (Mike Dudek, J.T. Barrett, Justin Jackson) and unknowns (Brian Allen, Kemoko Turay).
The Nittany Lions will need it, and they'll also become dangerous very quickly if they can shore that position up. It's hard to think of another position for a Big Ten team that was more crippling than this for Penn State.
Alabama's weakness to Manziellian tactics not withstanding, it's hard to imagine Cardale Jones being able to take advantage of that. J.T. Barrett is more elusive and more experienced, but this might be a nightmare situation for Jones in a way that Wisconsin's defense couldn't match.
This lays out what to expect from the Florida head coach, who has spent his first few weeks on the road recruiting rather than working on campus.
This is a very heart-warming list of great games. Do you choose Indiana's upset over Missouri, or Northwestern's upset over Notre Dame? Penn State-OSU in overtime, or Minnesota-Nebraska for the division crown? A lot of good choices.
Parker showed a lot of talent in five games, but this is the first time I've seen someone make the argument that a player who appeared in 5 games deserves a first-team conference selection.
This was a compelling argument that the Pac-12 has never seen a year quite like this one.
There were some great quotes in here by the Minnesota and Missouri coaches about how their programs are doing and what they're hoping for.
It will be interesting to see how Minnesota's offensive line holds up against their athletic front, but perhaps even more interesting will be how Maty Mauk fares vs. Minnesota's secondary. Mauk is a bit of a gunslinger: 52.9% completions, 6.46 yards per attempt, 23/11 TD ratio and 2,551 yards. He tends to throw a lot of incompletions, but he can be dangerous, too.
This opinion article defends the Wisconsin AD.