For years, two special trophies have brought a very important ending to college football season. The first award was the BCS crystal football and the second was the Heisman Trophy. There’s a new national championship trophy this season, but the Heisman is still standing. And yesterday, we learned who is one step closer to taking it home.
On Monday, 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wueffel announced the three finalists for the trophy recognizing the year’s most outstanding college football player. All three have been in the mix since the start of the year. During a season in which a new playoff has brought twists, turns, and ultimately a new college football playoff trophy, it’s nice to have some tradition within the Heisman race.
Let’s meet the 2014 Heisman finalists:
Marcus Mariota — Oregon, Quarterback
Mariota has been in Heisman discussions, well, forever. And he’s matched the high expectations. The red-shirt junior from Honolulu, Hawaii, has led the Ducks to 33 wins – the most of any quarterback in school history – and on January 1, he’ll try to add another win to his resume when he faces Florida State. So far this year, Mariota has thrown 38 TD passes and led his team to an 8-1 record in the Pac-12 conference and a 12-1 overall record. In six games this season he’s thrown for over 300 yards and in a 51-27 win over Utah towards the end of the year, Mariota showed off his rushing game by gaining 114 yards on the ground. He will be Oregon’s third Heisman finalist and the frontrunner in 2014.
Amari Cooper — Alabama, Wide Receiver
While playing in arguably the toughest conference in football, the SEC, Alabama receiver Amari Cooper was explosive all year long. The Miami, Florida, native caught 115 passes for 1,656 yards, an SEC record, and helped the Crimson Tide to a 12-1 record. Alabama heads into the All State Sugar Bowl ranked No. 1 and will face the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 1. Cooper is the fourth Heisman finalist in Alabama school history.
Melvin Gordon — Wisconsin, Running Back
Over in the Big 10, Melvin Gordon is the top rusher in the nation, going for 2,336 so far this season. The Kenosha, Wisconsin, native had fives games of 200 or more yards — including a 408-yard game against Nebraska that set a single-game FBS record. The Badgers junior only rushed for 76 yards in Wisconsin’s last game, a 59-0 destruction at the hands of Ohio State, so Gordon will look to close out the season strong in the Outback Bowl against Auburn. Gordon is Wisconsin’s fourth Heisman finalist, and he hopes to be the school’s third winner.
Photos: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images (Mariota), Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images (Cooper), Mike McGinnis/Getty Images (Gordon)