SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Someone call the engraver. He has 13 letters to add to the Heisman Trophy.
Friday night wasn’t so much a Pac-12 title game as it was a coronation for Marcus Mariota. The 2014 Heisman Trophy is his.
The Heisman Trophy announcement won't come until Dec. 13, but they may as well mail the hardware to Eugene and save everyone a trip to New York. Mariota is a stone-cold lock to take home college football’s most prized award.
Mariota didn’t just guide the second-ranked Ducks to a Pac-12 title; he obliterated the Arizona Wildcats to the tune of 51-13, including a Pac-12 Championship record 627 yards of offense for Oregon.
On the night, Mariota threw for 313 yards—a Pac-12 Championship record—ran for 33 more and scored five touchdowns—two through the air and three on the ground, tying a Pac-12 Championship record for rushing touchdowns. For his performance, Mariota was named the Pac-12 Championship game MVP.
When head coach Mark Helfrich was asked about Mariota’s Heisman candidacy, he said, "If [Mariota] isn’t what the Heisman Trophy is all about, I’m in the wrong profession."
To further that point, Mariota humbly responded, "Thanks, coach."
If you’re not convinced that Mariota is going to win the Heisman, I’ve got a two-play highlight reel from the third quarter I’d like to show you.
With Oregon leading 30-7, Mariota took a snap from Oregon’s 43-yard line. Arizona sent the house. There were no worries, as Mariota simply evaded multiple Wildcats, escaped the pocket as if he was Jackie Chan in Rush Hour, ran toward the Arizona sideline and launched a 46-yard strike off one leg to Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington. One play later, Mariota hit Carrington for his fourth touchdown of the night and gave the Ducks an insurmountable 37-7 lead.
Game over. Heisman race over.
Not only did the Ducks win the Pac-12 title, but they also slayed their "Arizona problem" along the way. Mariota said that the Ducks had "a lot of motivation going into this game."
This is the second time this year that the Ducks have faced a team that had previously beaten them in consecutive games. This is the second time that Mariota has annihilated those opponents (Stanford was the other).
Mariota’s ability to bounce back against those opponents and perform when the Ducks need him the most is one of the reasons why he’s sure to be the Heisman Trophy winner come Dec. 13. His statistics won’t hurt his case either.
The numbers that Mariota has put up in 2014 aren’t just the best in school history; they’re some of the best in Pac-12 and NCAA history.
On the season, Mariota has thrown for 38 touchdowns (Oregon record and second best in Pac-12 history), rushed for 14 touchdowns and received one touchdown. His 53 combined touchdowns are a Pac-12 record and rank eighth in NCAA history. His 4,478 combined yards this season are an Oregon record as well.
Mariota has thrown a touchdown in each of his 39 starts, which is the longest streak to start a career in history and tied for the second-longest streak in NCAA history.
Oh, we should probably mention that Mariota has only thrown two interceptions this year, and his 8.4 touchdown-to-interception ratio for his career is the best in the history of college football.
While Mariota’s statistics and Oregon’s victories are obviously strong enough to win the Heisman Trophy, it’s his leadership and personality that really set him apart.
In late October, Bleacher Report’s Greg Couch explained how Mariota could save the Heisman Trophy:
Mariota is the anti-Jameis Winston, the anti-Johnny Manziel, the anti-Cam Newton. Three of the past four Heisman winners have been great players on the field but trouble off. And the debate is always whether off-field stuff should be considered at all in a vote for the most outstanding player.
Mariota exemplifies what a student-athlete should be. He excels on the field, off the field and in the classroom, and he sets an example for his teammates.
The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award a college athlete can win. Shouldn’t it go to a player who leads his team to victory and does it with class and humility?
The Heisman Trophy is usually—and should be—awarded to the best player on the best team. Based on their performance against seventh-ranked Arizona, the Ducks are the best team in the country and have a chance to be ranked as such Sunday by the College Football Playoff committee.
Mariota is the best player on the best team in the entire country. The Heisman is his. There’s no reason to vote for anyone else.
Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise stated. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.
Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.