If Marcus Mariota keeps this up, the Heisman Trophy might find its way to Eugene come December.
Oregon’s sophomore quarterback threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns on 24 of 31 passing and added another 88 yards and a score on the ground as the No. 2 Ducks held off a gritty Washington squad in Seattle, 45-24.
It was Mariota’s calm under pressure that carried his team through a very difficult second half where the game almost got away from the Ducks. Washington tailback Bishop Sankey rumbled 60 yards for a touchdown on fourth down to cut the Ducks’ lead to 21-14 early in the third quarter. But Mariota stepped up on the next series and found Josh Huff on a 65-yard touchdown bomb. When Washington again closed to within seven on another Sankey touchdown at the end of the third quarter, Mariota responded with a five-yard touchdown run of his own early in the fourth.
No matter what Washington did, Mariota had an answer.
With the season halfway over, the sophomore is on course for the type of numbers that should make Heisman voters sit up and take notice. On his current pace, he’ll have 3,735 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, 923 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due. It would be hard to argue against a player with over 4,600 yards of offense and 54 total touchdowns, right? After all, Johnny Manziel wowed the college football world with 4,600 yards and 43 touchdowns last season on his way to winning the Heisman.
There are still hurdles to overcome. UCLA and Stanford loom in the next three weeks. But as it stands right now, Mariota is the solid favorite to win his school’s first Heisman.