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Heisman Power Rankings: Week 1

<p>The opening week of action is in the books. With plenty of noteworthy performances, both from trusted preseason favorites and newcomers making a splash onto the scene, here's the first iteration of our Heisman Trophy power rankings, a list which promises plenty of intrigue moving forward.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The opening week of action is in the books. With plenty of noteworthy performances, both from trusted preseason favorites and newcomers making a splash onto the scene, here's the first iteration of our Heisman Trophy power rankings, a list which promises plenty of intrigue moving forward.

1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia -- Rather inexplicably, Gurley had just four carries by halftime against Clemson in a game that went into intermission knotted up at 21-21, but he made up for lost time down the stretch to carry the Bulldogs to a convincing 45-21 triumph over the 16th-ranked team in the nation. Gurley ripped off a career-high 198 yards on only 15 totes and scored three touchdowns on the ground. He didn't stop there, however. His elite skills also were displayed on special teams, where he ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a score midway through the second quarter. Gurley was a man amongst boys, even against one of the best defenses in the country, and his rare combination of imposing size (6-foot-1, 226 pounds) and dynamic playmaking ability is something that truly needs to be seen to believe.

2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State -- The reigning winner did not get off to the most promising start to the new campaign. For just the third time in his career, Winston threw a pair of interceptions, but otherwise his performance on a neutral field against a solid Oklahoma State squad was admirable. The gun-slinger completed 25-of-40 passes for 370 yards with a touchdown in a 37-31 victory in which the Seminoles never trailed. He also added a "Heisman moment" to his reel when he hurdled his offensive lineman and juked a defender on his way to a 28-yard touchdown run. Despite the win, the end result was a bit troublesome for FSU, which won every matchup by at least two touchdowns in 2013 prior to the BCS Championship Game. But as long as it continues to win and hangs on to its No. 1 ranking, Winston's status near the top of this list will be secure.

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon -- Ever since losing to LSU to start the 2011 season, the Ducks have made it a habit of opening up their season with a cupcake matchup, and they barely broke a sweat in this year's lid lifter, capturing a 62-13 triumph over FCS opponent South Dakota. Mariota was predictably outstanding. Playing just the first half, he was 14-of-20 passing for 267 yards (13.4 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns while contributing to the rushing attack as well (43 yards, TD). The junior's skills are unquestioned at this point in his career, but he'll need some signature performances against top-notch competition if he wants to stake claim to the No. 1 spot. Next weekend against the vaunted Michigan State defense will be a good place to start.

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor -- The high-powered Baylor offense was in full swing in its 45-0 win over SMU, amassing 574 yards, and Petty did his part in the first half by completing 13-of-23 passes for 161 yards, rushing for 21 yards and accounting for three touchdowns without committing a turnover. Petty has now scored at least one touchdown in a school-record 14 straight games, surpassing former Heisman winner Robert Griffin III's old mark, but the signal caller suffered a scare when a hit forced him to leave the game with an apparent lower back injury after just two quarters of work. Whether removing him from the game was simply a precaution in a lopsided affair or perhaps something more serious remains to be seen.

5. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin -- The Badgers choked down the stretch of the 2014 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, allowing 21 unanswered points to LSU in the third and fourth quarters to suffer a heartbreaking, 28-24 defeat. Gordon made the most of his time on the field, rushing for 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries (8.8 yards per carry), but perhaps not coincidentally, LSU's comeback coincided with Gordon's perplexing lack of use in the second half. The electrifying tailback attempted just four rushes after halftime, with one resulting in a 63-yard gain. Meanwhile, committee partner Corey Clement plodded along for just 45 yards on 15 carries. Gordon has struggled on passing downs in the past, but it's abundantly clear the team is at its best when he's on the field, and Gary Anderson and the rest of the coaching staff will need to make the necessary adjustments moving forward if the Badgers want to be a contender in the Big Ten.

6. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M -- After fending off five-star freshman Kyle Allen during camp, Hill had a lot to prove heading into an opening-night bout at South Carolina in the Aggies' first game of the post-Johnny Manziel era, and he not only shined under the prime time stage but accomplished things that Johnny Football never had. In a 52-28 romp over the No. 9 team in the nation, Hill set school records for completions (44) and passing yards (511) while tossing three touchdowns to zero picks. The sophomore has a long way to go to be considered a favorite for the award, but it's less and less rare that an inexperienced signal caller emerges from nowhere, as three of the last four Heisman winners made their first career FBS start during the season they won (Winston, Manziel, Cam Newton). With a few more elite performances, maybe Hill can escape the shadow cast by the unfortunate "Kenny Football" nickname.

7. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA -- Hundley returned to UCLA for his junior season with the hopes of leading the Bruins to championship glory, but he'll need to perform much better than he did in the opener against Virginia if his team is to live up to lofty expectations. He completed 20-of-33 passes for 242 yards while rushing for 39 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked five times and lost a pair of fumbles against a UVA squad that went only 2-10 a season ago. UCLA's defense needed to bail out Hundley, with the unit scoring three touchdowns to lead UCLA to 28-20 victory. Hundley's proven track record keeps him on the list for now, but a few more clunkers will bounce him from contention in a hurry.

8. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame -- It had been more than 18 months since Golson last played a meaningful snap for the Fighting Irish, but he looked better than ever in his return to the field in a 48-17 win over Rice. He completed just 14 passes but they resulted in 295 yards and a pair a long scoring strikes, a 75-yarder to Will Fuller and a 53-yarder to C.J. Prosise. Golson added to his career day with a terrific rushing performance as well (41 yards, three TDs). If Notre Dame is to return to the nation's elite like it was under Golson's leadership in 2012, more performances like this will need to be in store for the quarterback, especially after the roster was crippled from the five suspensions handed down for academic dishonestly a few weeks back.

9. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska -- The Cornhuskers had a soft matchup to start the season at home against Florida Atlantic, and they took full advantage with an easy, 55-7 victory behind a dominant performance from their senior running back. Even though he rested for most of the second half, Abdullah still made a lasting impression with a career-high 227 yards on 21 attempts, including a 47-yard score in the second quarter. Fresh off a 1,690-yard campaign in 2013 (good for ninth in the nation), Abdullah is a strong bet to top that number during his final year in Lincoln.

10. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn -- Marshall was suspended for the first half of Auburn's opener against Arkansas, and he was arguably outshined by his replacement Jeremy Johnson (12-of-16, 243 yards, two TDs), but his absence caused the Tigers to head into halftime tied with the Razorbacks, 21-21. The Tigers returned to their regular offensive scheme with Marshall back after intermission, and they responded by outscoring the Razorbacks over the final 30 minutes, 24-0. Marshall's numbers were nothing special (4-of-6, 50 yards; 19 rushing yards, TD), but he orchestrated the deadly read-option attack, which helped the Tigers pick up 302 rushing yards.

Honorable Mention: Dak Prescott (QB, Mississippi State), Christian Hackenberg (QB, Penn State), T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama), Derrick Henry (RB, Alabama), Cody Kessler (QB, USC), Rashad Greene (WR, Florida State).

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