Heisman Update: Prescott fizzles late, seals Heisman fate
Dak Prescott just completed one of the best individual seasons in Mississippi State football history, and it still won’t be enough to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Prescott closed the season with 2,996 yards passing, 939 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving and 38 total touchdowns, including at least one score in all 12 of Mississippi State’s games this season. He was just four yards passing and 61 yards rushing shy of posting a 3,000-1,000 season, which has only been done once in SEC history (Johnny Manziel — 2012).
He led the Bulldogs to their first 10-win regular season and their first No. 1 ranking in history, and he was undoubtedly the biggest reason for their success.
But two lackluster showings in Mississippi State’s two losses this season, which happened to come on MSU’s two biggest national stages this year, cost Prescott a chance to stave off Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon and Alabama wideout Amari Cooper in the Heisman race.
Prescott burst on the Heisman scene following three straight wins over top 10 teams in late-September and early-October. He beat No. 8 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn in consecutive weeks, throwing for 260 yards per game and rushing for 101 yards per game in that span while amassing 11 total touchdowns.
However, by season’s end those three opponents combined to lose 13 games, and none of those teams was ranked higher than No. 20 in Sunday’s updated Associated Press poll (A&M wasn’t ranked at all).
In losses to No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 15 and No. 13 Ole Miss last Saturday, Prescott completed just 57 percent of his passes, ran for only 2.8 yards per carry and posted just four total touchdowns compared to three interceptions. The Mississippi State offense had two of its lowest scoring outputs of the season in those games, averaging just 18.5 points per contest, which falls 18.7 points shy of MSU’s scoring average this season.
So while the Heisman is awarded to the player with the greatest body of work for an entire season, Prescott’s best games came against opponents that ultimately underachieved, while his two worst games came when the spotlight was at its brightest. That’s tough to overcome, especially considering how long ago those three signature wins came and how recently those two frustrating losses occurred.
Mariota closed the regular season with 3,470 yards through the air, 636 yards on the ground at 5.9 yards per carry, 26 yards receiving and 48 total touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Gordon closed the year with 2,260 yards on the ground and 26 touchdowns, and Cooper ended 2014 with 103 catches for 1,573 and 14 touchdowns.
All three will be in action this weekend when conference title games commence, while Prescott will be watching from home. That added exposure can make all the difference in a tight Heisman race, and Prescott will likely take a back seat in the minds of the voters if Mariota, Gordon and Cooper shine this weekend.
Prescott fizzled late in the season as the other three surged, and now they’ll play on while Prescott sits awaits Mississippi State’s fate this bowl season.
The junior had a sensational season, but it won’t be enough to win the Heisman. Still, Mississippi State has never had a player finish higher than 10th in the Heisman voting, and Prescott is a near-lock to do so this season. There’s a great chance he’s invited to New York City next week as a Heisman finalist, which would still bring him and the MSU program plenty of positive exposure as a reward for a fantastic season.
Prescott will be remembered as one of the great SEC quarterbacks of this century, but he won’t be remembered as a Heisman winner.