After leading his team to a Pac-12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has been named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, along with Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
The ceremony is set for December 13 at 5:00 p.m. PT and will be aired live on ESPN.
Mariota is the third Heisman finalist in Oregon history. Joey Harrington was the school's first finalist in 2001 when Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch would go on to win the award. LaMichael James was a finalist in 2010, falling short to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Earlier today, it was announced that Mariota had won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, given annually to the nation's top graduating quarterback judged not only for their on-field accomplishments, but also for their character, citizenship, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities. However, Mariota once did get a speeding ticket, so he's the wild child of Golden Arm winners.
2014 has been the best year of Mariota's career as the junior from Honolulu has set career marks in completions (254), passing yards (3783), yards per attempt (10.17), passing touchdowns (38), rating (186.3). raw QBR (89.4) and adjusted QBR (91.9), as well as a career low in interceptions (2).
Mariota threw for at least two touchdown passes in every game this season to go along with seven games with at least 300 yards passing. Mariota also rushed for at least one touchdown in eight games this year, including a career-high three rushing touchdowns against Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. Mariota ended the regular season on a streak of five consecutive games with a rushing touchdown.
Based on history alone, Mariota's odds are a virtual lock. Since 2000, a quarterback has won the award in 12 of those 14 years. The only non-quarterbacks to win during that time period were Reggie Bush in 2005 (later vacated) and Mark Ingram in 2009.
Had this been any other year, it'd most likely be a complete toss-up between Cooper and Gordon to win the trophy. This year, Melvin Gordon rushed for 2,336 yards, including his record-breaking day against Nebraska in which Gordon ran for 408 yards, an FBS single game record. Amari Cooper has hauled in 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cooper went over 200 yards receiving in three different games this season.
However, Mariota is in a league of his own. In 2014, Mariota accounted for 53 of Oregon's 77 touchdowns. While Oregon has plenty of depth to credit to their success, it's clear the Ducks would not be in the playoff without Mariota. While the Heisman voting is not always clear, it appears as if Mariota already has the award locked up and the ceremony shouldn't be much more than a formality.