Scott Rabalais’ Heisman watch

Associated Press photo by RAINIER EHRHARDT -- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd looks to throw against South Carolina during a Nov. 24 game in Clemson, S.C. Boyd is third in Scott Rabalais' Heisman watch this week. Show caption
Associated Press photo by RAINIER EHRHARDT -- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd looks to throw against South Carolina during a Nov. 24 game in Clemson, S.C. Boyd is third in Scott Rabalais' Heisman watch this week.

Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, will break down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award.

1. MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON

OK, Tennessee is not the Tennessee of old, but Mariota abused the Volunteers just like he has done everyone else on the Ducks’ schedule. He threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 27 yards and another score. For the season, Mariota has thrown for 889 yards and seven TDs with no interceptions while rushing for 262 yards and four scores.

2. JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M

Johnny Football rises three spots in our ratings this week even in defeat against Alabama. That’s how good he was against the Tide. Last year he basically won the Heisman with the win at Bama, throwing for 253 yards and two TDs while rushing for 92 yards. This year he threw for 464 yards and five TDs (admittedly with two interceptions, one a pick six) and rushed for 98 yards. In limited action he’s thrown for 984 yards and 11 TDs (3 INTs) while rushing for 153 yards and a score.

3. TAJH BOYD, QB, CLEMSON

While Mariota and Manziel were all flash and dash last Saturday, Clemson was idle, meaning Boyd had no chance to impress. He takes a bit of a dip in our Heisman rankings but still remains a highly viable contender. For the season he’s thrown for 439 yards and three TDs and rushed for three more scores. Clemson plays Thursday night at N.C. State.

4. AJ MCCARRON, QB, ALABAMA

Call him merely a game manager if you must, but no one manages like McCarron. Crossing swords with Manziel in hostile territory, McCarron threw for 334 yards and four TDs with no interceptions to win the duel for early SEC West supremacy with the Aggies. Lots of QBs have thrown for more than McCarron in two games (444 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT) but his 27-2 record as a starter is envious in the extreme.

5. TODD GURLEY, RB, GEORGIA

Last week we had Gurley ranked third, the last place on a Heisman ballot. He did nothing wrong this week except not play since the Bulldogs were idle after rushing for 288 yards and three TDs in his first two games. The problem for Heisman candidates is being out of sight and out of mind is a bad state of existence.

ON THE RADAR

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State