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Marcus Mariota Wins Heisman In Blowout

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Fine, so Marcus Mariota isn’t exactly fellow Hawaii native Barack Obama when it comes to public speaking, and he might not be a thrilling quote machine, but he came through when it counted – on the podium as the winner of the 2014 Heisman Trophy. With all of the problems in football at both the college and pro level, it’s not a bad thing to have an understated role model of a superstar who came up with one of the loudest wins in Heisman history. 

On the field, Mariota was consistently great to the point of making the fantastic look routine and expected. He might not have had any one Heisman moment, but he came up with a season full of them. 

Robert Griffin III had the Oklahoma game. Johnny Manziel grabbed the Heisman when he rocked Alabama. Jameis Winston announced to the world that he was going to be the main man for the main team from the 2013 opening weekend game against Pitt on national television. Mariota grabbed the Heisman when … uh, um … it was the time he … uh … 

Maybe it was when you took a step back and noticed the 2014 body of work. 

The Heisman isn’t ever supposed to be a career honor, and even though Mariota threw for 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns with four picks in 2013, and ran for 715 yards and nine scores, that’s not supposed to matter. Sure, he has thrown 12 career interceptions in 1,092 attempts, but none of that factors into the equation. 

It’s not that he has had Oregon at a consistently high level over the last three years, and it’s not that he has come up with one big play or moment that defined his season. He’s the 2014 Heisman winner because of his excellence with the pressure on all year to be the main man for a playoff-or-bust team. 

It’s hard to argue against Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, who came up with his Heisman-like performance with the epic 408-yard, four touchdown game against Nebraska, but even with his historic 2,336-yard campaign, and even though he averaged 7.56 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns, his struggles in the 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game ended his chances. 

Alabama’s Amari Cooper was the most dangerous weapon on the nation’s No. 1 team, and he showed off just how great his season really was catching 13 catches for 224 yards and three scores against Auburn, and followed it up with 12 grabs for 83 yards against Missouri. The Biletnikoff winner caught 115 passes for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns, but even so, he didn’t do for the Crimson Tide what Mariota was able to come up with for Oregon. 

No, he’s not exactly Captain Charisma, and yes, he might be a very good player in a very amazing system, but this was Mariota’s season and he more than deserved his place among the college football immortals winning the 2014 Heisman in an Oregon-like blowout. 

The only real down moment in the dream season was the 31-24 home loss to Oregon, but it was hardly Mariota’s fault, completing 20-of-32 passes for 276 yards and two scores, but ran for just one yard on nine carries. Talk about making amends, Mariota was flawless in the 51-13 Pac-12 championship make-good against the Wildcats throwing for 313 yards and two scores and running for 33 yards and three touchdowns. 

That might have been the big stage, but it was his consistent excellent that brought the award to Eugene, throwing 38 touchdown passes with just two – two – interceptions giving away one to go along with the five touchdowns against Cal, and throwing another in the blowout over Stanford. That was it for the mistakes. 

In a two-game stretch against Wyoming and Washington State, he connected on a target practice 40-of-47 passes for 605 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 129 yards and two scores. 

Utah was considered a dangerous team at home and was supposed to be a trap game moment for the Ducks, but instead, after a strange start, Mariota was calm, cool and collected running for a season-high 114 yards and a score, and throwing for 239 yards and three touchdowns. 

And while Mariota saves his flair for the field and not the media, that’s part of what makes him the right quarterback for Oregon and the right Heisman winner in 2014. He stayed on an even keel, he didn’t panic when the team suffered a little bit of adversity, and he blew through the strong Pac-12 with cold efficiency closing out the year completing 68% of his passes for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns with two interceptions, 669 rushing yards and 14 scores, and one Pac-12 championship. 

This was Mariota’s year. Can it be his College Football Playoff? That remains to be seen, but for the regular season, he made his point loud and clear. 

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