With the conference titles determined, the four playoff teams announced and a layover before the bowl games begin, the next major event in college football is the announcement of this year's Heisman Trophy winner.
SportsCenter shared the list of finalists Monday on Twitter:
Let's take a closer look at the finalists.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Marcus Mariota had another stellar performance in the Pac-12 title game. He finished 25-of-38 with 313 passing yards, two touchdowns, 33 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground in a 51-13 rout against an Arizona team that beat the Ducks earlier in the year. After the win, a reporter asked him how it felt to win the Heisman.
"I haven't won the Heisman," Mariota said, according to Bryan Fischer of NFL.com. "I haven't even been invited."
For Mariota, it was a typically humble remark. But he's been invited now, and he's the favorite as well. Frankly, it would be a huge shock if Mariota didn't win the award. His stats speak for themselves.
|Marcus Mariota 2014 Stats|
|Pass Yards||Pass TD||INT||Completion %||Rush Yards||Rush TD|
A 38-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is rather superb, and his total of 53 touchdowns scored (one reception TD) easily tops that of any of the other Heisman finalists. Mariota led Oregon to a 12-1 record, and now he and the Ducks are preparing for a playoff showdown against Florida State and last year's Heisman winner, Jameis Winston.
Mariota could add a lot of hardware to his shelf this winter. He was already named as the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner on Monday, per Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com. If he doesn't win the Heisman, more than a few folks will be surprised.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
While Alabama has had its fair share of talented wide receivers throughout the years—Julio Jones comes to mind—the team has come to resemble a ground-and-pound offense and stout defense for much of Nick Saban's tenure.
This year has been a bit different, however, in part due to talented receiver Amari Cooper.
The junior has been college football's best receiver this year, an assertion few would argue against. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report certainly thinks so:
Cooper caught an SEC-record 115 passes for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, incredibly impressive marks. More importantly, though, he's come up huge when the Crimson Tide needed him most. In wins over LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri down the stretch, he notched 41 receptions for 478 yards and five touchdowns.
His performance in the Iron Bowl, in particular, probably earned him a trip to New York, as he caught 13 passes for 224 yards and three scores. If Heisman winners need a signature performance, that was his.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Speaking of signature performances, one of the standout achievements of this college football season was when Melvin Gordon rushed 25 times for 408 yards—yes, you read that correctly—and four touchdowns against Nebraska.
It broke the all-time NCAA single-game rushing record set by future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson 15 years ago (406 yards).
For the season, Gordon rushed 309 times for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns, adding 17 receptions for 151 yards and three more scores. He was the nation's top running back and helped lead Wisconsin to a 10-3 record and an Outback Bowl matchup against Auburn.