Surprising absolutely no one, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was the landslide winner of the 2014 Heisman Trophy announced Saturday night in Manhattan. His victory sets up an unusual matchup against 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston of Florida State in a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year's Day in the Rose Bowl.
Mariota received 2,534 votes, including 788 first-place votes, both of which are the third-highest totals ever. Mariota's 90.92 percentage of total possible points received was second-highest ever behind 2006 winner Troy Smith (91.63) of Ohio State.
One of the most touching aspects of Mariota's acceptance speech was when he choked back tears while expressing his appreciation of his native Hawaii, fellow Polynesian athletes and his parents. "It's a pride thing for people in Hawaii," he said after composing himself.
"In Hawaii, if one person is successful, the entire state is successful. To be part of that is something special. I wish I could give them more thanks . . . In Hawaii, we're told we don't have the same opportunity. I want kids in Hawaii to realize you can take your opportunity and make the most of it."
The other finalists were Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who finished second with 1,250 points and received 37 first-place votes, and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was third with 1,023 points and 49 first-place votes. TCU's Trevone Boykin (281, eight) was fourth and Ohio State's J.T. Barrett (78) finished fifth.
Although Winston led the Seminoles to their second straight undefeated season, he finished sixth in the voting with a mere 51 points and four first-place votes in what widely was viewed as a referendum on his off-field behavioral issues. Mariota came to be viewed almost as the anti-Winston thanks to a near-spotless reputation. His worst misstep was a speeding ticket he got before this season.
In every other respect, he has lived up to his nickname: "Super Mariota." The Oregon star passed for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns and threw only two interceptions. His 186.3 rating is third highest in NCAA history. He added 669 yards rushing, ran for 14 touchdowns and even caught a TD pass to account for 53 touchdowns this season.
As a measure of his consistency, Mariota has thrown at least one TD pass in each of his 39 career games, going 35-4 in those contests. So the hype around his Rose Bowl meeting with Winston should be tremendous.
"Jameis is a good guy," Mariota said before Saturday night's ceremony. "I met him at the Nike camp. Now we get to play them in the Rose Bowl and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Commenting on the Seminoles' defense, Mariota added, "Their record says it all. They're very aggressive and they have a bunch of playmakers on defense that will create turnovers. It will be tough."
Most expect Mariota, a junior, to declare for the NFL draft, but he has indicated that decision will wait until a couple of days after the season. He didn't arrive in New York until early Saturday but is aware of the interest in him by the Jets, who likely will finish with a top-five pick.
"No, I haven't seen any Jets fans yet," Mariota said with a laugh. "I haven't been able to get outside of the hotel and really visit New York. It seems like a good place, but it's really busy."
If there has been one question about his NFL potential, it's about whether his quiet leadership style will translate. "I've always been quiet and reserved," Mariota said. "I tend not to use my words. I believe there are different kinds of leadership. Showing you care means so much more than yelling at someone. That's how I lead."
Heisman voters heartily endorsed the grace and humility with which he plays the game.