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2013 Heisman Trophy: Why Oregon's Loss Is Not an Obituary for Marcus Mariota

Nov 7, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov (11) deflects the pass attempt by Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin W. RyanContributor IIINovember 11, 2013

After Stanford shutout the high-flying Oregon Ducks offense for the first 50 minutes of their November 7th matchup, media all over the country immediately wrote off Marcus Mariota as a Heisman trophy candidate.

The drop for Mariota was not gradual at all—it was as if the Hawaiian superstar was removed from the face of the Earth, along with his 30+ touchdowns and 0 interceptions. 

Let me get this straight: Mariota, sophomore starting quarterback, leads the Ducks to an 8-0 start by a total score of 445-135 (seriously, they have scored 310 more points than the eight teams they played leading up to the Stanford game), yet a six-point loss to a BCS top-five ranked team automatically has Mariota removed from the Heisman trophy conversation? 

Something doesn't add up, you know, to us logic and reason seeking folk... 

Bothered by a sprained MCL, Mariota was forced to cope with the reality that he was not going to meet his normal quota of 60+ rushing yards per game against Stanford. 

No problem, right? I mean, the guy does have over 2,000 yards passing for 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Combining Oregon's dreadful and disappointing first-half production with Stanford's "grown man football," the Cardinal cruised to a 26-point lead and the night seemed all but over for the Ducks.

Instead, Mariota & Co. hobbled back out on the field and nearly completed one of the most incredible comebacks in recent college football history.  

Because Oregon traveled back to Eugene with a loss, national college football coverage easily dubbed the game as "crushing BCS title hopes", instead of focusing their coverage on how Oregon scored 20 unanswered points in the final 10 minutes against a dominant and powerful Stanford team. 

Not only that, the nation would have loved to see Mariota have a "Heisman Moment" against Stanford—as if this is some cornerstone checkpoint en route to winning the Heisman trophy. 

If anything, his entire season is his "Heisman moment". The Heisman memorial trophy is awarded to college football's most outstanding player—not the player who has the best story, or is "trending" at the right time. 

Heisman trophy odds as listed by sportsbook.com on November 11th list Jameis Winston as the overarching favorite, with the rest of the list as follows:

 

Player, SchoolOddsWinsPass YrdRush YrdTotal TDsINTQBR
Jameis Winston, Florida State1/892,661157297192.2
A.J. McCarron, Alabama5/192,041-22193169.1
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M5/183,3136113911186.9
Bryce Petty, Baylor15/182,657118291210.6
Marcus Mariota, Oregon40/182,531495310173.4
Braxton Miller, Ohio State50/191,316410173175.9
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville50/182,84540243182.9

 

The problem is not that Mariota deserves to win the Heisman trophy, per se, but rather that he deserves much more credit than he's received, as well as far less blame for the loss at Stanford.  

No matter how you present the facts of the Stanford's well-deserved upset, Oregon will continue to be treated as a national disappointment (unless they go undefeated and win every game by 50 points), while Stanford is credited as Oregon's "little brother that could" instead of the beefy national powerhouse they truly are.

The reality is that both Stanford and Oregon are two college football teams that would give anyone in the nation a run for the money—whether all of the scoring comes in the final 10 minutes or not. 

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