Marcus Mariota's 5-Touchdown Performance Puts Him in Heisman Spotlight

Richard LangfordCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks to throw a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the game at Scott Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Marcus Mariota threw for 456 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, as his Oregon Ducks waxed Tennessee, 59-14. In the process, the sophomore quarterback is kicking his Heisman campaign into overdrive.

Four of Mariota's touchdowns came through the air as he set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. 

While there are a pair of quarterbacks, Aggies starter Johnny Manziel and Crimson Tide signal-caller AJ McCarron, who lit up the scoreboard in College Station on Saturday to hog the majority of the headlines from this weekend, Mariota can quietly file this excellent game into his Heisman resume.

And it is a resume that is getting noticed: 

On Saturday, Mariota's—and his teammates'—performance was so thorough and complete that the 19-year-old's services were sent happily to the bench before the start of the fourth quarter. 

He got off to a bit of a cold start in this game, but as you can see, he recovered nicely: 

This wasn't against a walkover opponent, either.

Tennessee entered this game at 2-0 and has been preparing to play another tough season in the SEC. While the Volunteers were not ranked and big underdogs heading into this game, the proud football school is also not used to getting abused like it was on Saturday. 

In fact, the entire SEC is not used to being dominated this way: 

After throwing for 2,677 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions combined with 752 rushing yards and another five touchdowns as a freshman, Mariota entered this season high on the Heisman watch list. 

He got off to a very good, albeit not overly dominant, start. Entering Saturday, Mariota had passed for 433 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns. 

Of course, Mariota has been limited by his team's dominance over lesser opponents.

Now he and the Ducks offense are beginning to stretch their legs a little more, and the result was an embarrassed SEC team. 

There is still a lot of football left to be played, but given Mariota's scintillating form, Oregon's recent history of dominance and offensive prowess, and the fact the quarterback hasn't even needed to play a full game yet, he should have everyone else hoping to win this year's Heisman just a touch worried.