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Nov 21, 2014 04:35 PM EST

Marcus Mariota has the advantage over his fellow Heisman Trophy candidates by playing quarterback, as well as the advantage of having no equal at the position.

In the last 14 years, a non-quarterback has won the Heisman Trophy just twice and both times it was a running back. This year, Mariota is the front-runner for several publications to win the award with a host of running backs following.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Mariota tops the Heisman Trophy watch lists of ESPN, USA Today and Sports Illustrated.

The biggest challenger, it would appear, is Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who would probably not even be in the conversation if not for a historic game last weekend, the Orlando Sentinel noted. With Mariota and Oregon on a bye, Gordon rushed for 408 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson's single-game record of 406 yards on the ground.

At this point, many publications see the Heisman as Mariota's award to lose, but it could be Gordon's to win. The Ducks have already clinched the Pac-12 North and play Colorado and Oregon State to close out their regular season.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, lead the Big Ten West by one game and play Iowa and Minnesota before a potential shot at the conference title. Gordon has something else on his side and can become the 17th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to hit 2,000 rushing yards in a season if he can eclipse 91 yards in two games. He can also break the Big Ten single-season rushing record of 2,109 yards, set by Ron Dayne, the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner.

Other candidates expected to be named as finalists include TCU QB Trevone Boykin, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott. Mariota was a strong contender last season and he is putting up strong numbers once again, and the Heisman Trophy is seemingly becoming a quarterback's award.

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