LITTLE ROCK — Inside Marcus Mariota’s good but not great numbers vs. Michigan State, a Heisman Trophy moment can be found.

LITTLE ROCK — Inside Marcus Mariota’s good but not great numbers vs. Michigan State, a Heisman Trophy moment can be found.

As favorites for the Heisman, Mariota and 2013 winner Jameis Winston are held to a higher standard. Not only must they do something special, but they must perform when the stage is large and the situation adverse.

In the premier game of the weekend, No. 7 Michigan State scored 20 straight for a nine-point lead over No. 3 Oregon. Early in the second half, while Michigan State was expanding its lead from six to nine, the Ducks failed to make a first down on consecutive possessions because Mariota missed on third-down passes. Following a sack, Mariota was looking at third-and-10.

Three MSU players got a hand on Mariota, but he did a Johnny Manziel, fled left, and shot-put a pass to Royce Freeman for 17. On the next third down, Mariota’s throw was good for 12. He followed up with completions worth 24 and 37 yards and touchdowns that put Oregon in front 32-27.

That’s what Heisman winners do, shake off adversity and perform to the hilt.

Passing on an in-person viewing of Arkansas 73, Nicholls State 7 and with the SEC Network in full swing, I couldn’t keep up with all the games available and didn’t try hard because most were not competitive.

The Pac-12 provided the best of the lot — Oregon-MSU and USC 13, Stanford 10 — and the takeaway was that Ducks are legitimate for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff.


Although there are only two conference games in the SEC this week — one more than last week — Georgia-South Carolina will go a long way towards deciding the Eastern Division and non-conference games in Lubbock and Norman should help with a read on Arkansas and Tennessee.

Texas Tech is an unimpressive 2-0 with victories over the University of Central Arkansas and UTEP by a total of 11 points. Favored to win the Big 12, the Sooners have scored 100 in two games.


Mentioned in the preseason, the possibility that the Big Ten’s chances of getting into the CFP could be in jeopardy after Week Two has come to fruition.

Michigan State’s loss, coupled with Ohio State losing at home to Virginia Tech, and LSU’s comeback victory over Wisconsin a week earlier, put the league in a bind. The Spartans, Buckeyes, and Badgers are supposed to be the Big Ten’s best.


Arkansas, Texas A&M, and LSU defeated FCS schools by a total of 202-10. Throw in Baylor of the Big 12 and Clemson of the ACC vs. the small schools and the total was 345-23.

Other than friends and relatives of the back-ups, who wants to see that?


Reading the NBA commissioner’s take on legalized sports betting outside of Nevada, Adam Silver must not be aware of the money available to fight such expansion.

"It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada …," he said.

This year, almost $120 million was wagered legally on the Super Bowl — the first time the total topped $100 million — and sports books recorded a record profit $19.7 million. All told, sports book wagering in Nevada tops $2 billion.

Those reaping the profits are not going to surrender without a fight.


Any of the 29 players in the PGA Tour Championship can win the $10 million FedEX Cup this week if the stars align. Nos. 1-5 — Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan — win if they prevail in the Tour Championship.

But, the standings are such that Morgan Hoffman, 21st in points and never a winner on the PGA Tour, can take home the boodle if he wins at East Lake, Kirk is 13th or worse, and none of the others in the top six have a high finish.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: