Heisman Trophy Candidates

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Heisman Trophy candidates are now on the clock.

The Heisman Trust said Monday that ballots have been distributed to the 929 voters who will decide the top player in college football. According to the latest USA TODAY Sports Heisman survey, that choice will come down to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

They earned all the first- and second-place votes from Heisman selectors who work for properties owned by Gannett, parent company of USA TODAY.

The online voting concludes on Dec. 8, the day after the four teams for the first College Football Playoff will be announced. The Heisman winner will be announced Dec. 13 in New York. The voting panel includes 58 former Heisman winners, 870 media members.

Mariota, with Oregon State (5-6) and the Pac-12 title game remaining, holds a commanding lead. He is the nation’s leader in passing efficiency.

The Ducks are third in the Amway Coaches Poll and second in the College Football Playoff rankings. A new set of CFP rankings will be announced today (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Gordon, who leads the nation in rushing with an average of 191.7 yards a game, on Saturday has Minnesota, which is tied for 52nd in FBS rushing defense at 154.6 yards a game. If Wisconsin beats the Gophers, they will play No. 7 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game the following week. The Buckeyes are 41st in rushing defense.

1. Marcus Mariota, Junior, QB, Oregon: 23-7-0 = 83

2. Melvin Gordon, Junior, RB, Wisconsin: 7-23-0= 67

3. Dak Prescott, Junior, QB, Mississippi State: 0-0-11 = 11

4. J.T. Barrett, Freshman, QB, Ohio State: 0-0-8 = 8

5. Amari Cooper, Junior, WR, Alabama: 0-0-6 = 6

6. Trevone Boykin, Junior, QB, TCU: 0-0-2 = 2

7. Tevin Coleman, Junior, RB, Indiana: 0-0-2 = 2

8. Jameis Winston, Sophomore, QB, Florida State = 0-0-1 = 1

Seahawks Pick up Much Needed Win

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After 10 games, the defending champions needed to ask the difficult questions of each other. Most of all, whether the Seattle Seahawks were willing to put aside egos and get back in the NFC West race.

Led by a stingy Seattle defense reminiscent of a season ago and some more playmaking by Russell Wilson, the Seahawks handed the Arizona Cardinals their second loss of the season, 19-3 on Sunday.

”There was something that was missing,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. ”There was a subtle difference there and I feel like today we kind of found it. We talked about it throughout the week. Like I said, just trusting each other, respecting each other and going out there and playing for each other.

”I definitely felt it today.”

Seattle won for the fourth time in five games, putting aside the missed chances from last week’s loss in Kansas City and announcing the Seahawks aren’t done by knocking off the league-leading Cardinals.

”Hard talks. Arguments. Like a family, and just like a family we came together,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.

Wilson was sacked a season-high seven times by Arizona’s ultra-aggressive defense and the assortment of blitzes they called to confuse and fluster the Seahawks quarterback. But when Seattle (7-4) needed a scoring drive, after squandering advantageous field position throughout the game, Wilson delivered.

Considering the circumstances, it was probably Seattle’s most important drive of the season, capped when Wilson found backup tight end Cooper Helfet on a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter. It was a must-win for Seattle if it had any hopes of catching Arizona (9-2) in the NFC West.

”It’s a special win because we did it together,” Thomas said. ”For the first time this year, I think we played for pure reasons, for no motives attached. That’s what you love about this team We can put our egos aside and we can admit when we’re wrong. Guys stayed true.”

Wilson finished 17 of 22 for 211 yards and added 73 yards rushing. He was at his best on the lone touchdown drive going 6 of 6 for 70 yards as Seattle moved the pocket and made him less vulnerable to the Arizona rush. He escaped the arms of Lorenzo Alexander for a possible sack and found Marshawn Lynch open for 23 yards. Wilson also ran for 15 yards on third-and-11 to get Seattle inside the Arizona 20.

”I think we let Russell Wilson be Russell Wilson on too many occasions,” Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu said.

Helping out Wilson was Seattle’s defense that was finally healthy with the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Arizona was held to a season-low 204 total yards. A week after throwing for a career-high 306 yards, Drew Stanton was 14 of 26 for 149 and one interception.

Stanton was minus a weapon with Larry Fitzgerald inactive due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and wasn’t helped when Jaron Brown dropped a touchdown late in the first half.

Fitzgerald sat for the first time in 110 games and for just the fifth time in his career due to the knee injury suffered last week against Detroit. John Brown continued his stellar rookie season with three catches for 61 yards, but Michael Floyd was shut out, defended much of the game by Richard Sherman.

Arizona saw its six-game win streak snapped.

Huskies Smash Beavers

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Turned out there was no lingering hangover from the disappointment of a week earlier for Washington.

Big plays and a quick start have the Huskies bowl eligible for a fifth-straight season.

”I was pretty confident in my teammates and myself and the game plan,” Washington defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha said. ”Everything pretty much went as planned.”

Jaydon Mickens caught a 54-yard touchdown on Washington’s first drive and added a 36-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, Dwayne Washington ran for a 68-yard touchdown and the Huskies raced to a 37-13 win over Oregon State on Saturday night.

Washington jumped to an early 17-0 lead and easily rebounded from last week’s late clock-management collapse at Arizona. Because Washington plays 13 games, it needed seven wins for bowl eligibility and the Huskies (7-5, 3-5 Pac-12) got it in the first season under coach Chris Petersen. The win also removes the stress about the postseason out of next week’s Apple Cup in Pullman against rival Washington State.

”It gives us a chance to extend the season and do those type of things is really big,” Petersen said. ”We’re not going to look too far ahead, we’ve got a really important game next week, so it’s nice to be able to go back to work with a little bit of energy we haven’t had the past few weeks.”

Dwayne Washington finished with 100 yards on 14 carries. Washington quarterback Cyler Miles was 18 of 23 for 253 yards and two TDs in one of his most efficient performances of the season. Miles found Mickens early and hit Darrell Daniels on a 68-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

Miles finished with a passer rating of 199.4, the highest of his career.

”He was very dialed in to where he was going with the ball,” Petersen said. ”He was seeing well and throwing accurately. I thought he was as comfortable as he has been all season.”

Oregon State (5-6, 2-6) lost for the fifth time in six games and was unable to build on last week’s upset of Arizona State.

Mariners’ 3B Seager gets $100 million deal??

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Third baseman Kyle Seager and the Seattle Mariners are nearing a long-term deal that will keep the 27-year-old in the Northwest for the next seven years.

According to multiple reports, the Mariners will lock up Seager at a cost of nearly $100 million. The contract will include an option in the eighth year and could be worth another $20 million.

Seager is coming off an All-Star type season. He won his first Gold Glove while hitting .268 and belted 25 home runs.

Seager must pass a physical before the deal becomes official.

This is the third consecutive offseason that the Mariners have signed a player to a $100-million deal. Last offseason, Seattle signed free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract. The year before, Felix Hernandez signed for seven years and $175 million.

Seahawks Looking for Revenge

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The only misstep the Seattle Seahawks suffered at home during their romp to a Super Bowl title last season came against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks now get a rematch at CenturyLink Field on Sunday with far more than just redemption or bragging rights on the line.

Arizona handed the Seahawks their only home loss in 2013, winning 17-10 on Dec. 22 to end Seattle’s 14-game home win streak and move within striking distance of the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2009. However, the 10-6 Cardinals eventually missed out.

This time around, with the roles of front-runner and underdog flipped, Arizona looks to further cement itself as the team to beat in the NFC.

“The belief system that everything that we’re doing is working solidified itself up there last year,” coach Bruce Arians said about last year’s matchup in Seattle. “You have to build that camaraderie and what it takes as a team. Each team doesn’t buy into that always, and some guys don’t buy into it. This one has.”

The Cardinals (9-1) own the NFL’s best record, and since losing at Denver in Week 5, have won six straight – their longest streak since stringing seven together in 1974.

Arizona has continued to find success despite a tumultuous stretch of offensive health issues highlighted by the season-ending knee injury to Carson Palmer in Week 10. Filling in for Palmer has been Drew Stanton, who is now 3-1 as a starter this season after posting a career-best 306 passing yards in Sunday’s 14-6 win over Detroit.

“Drew did what we expected from Drew,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said of Stanton, who finished the day 21 of 32 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. “There was no question he was going to go out there and play well.”

Andre Ellington has been limited by a foot injury all season, and Fitzgerald suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday. Ellington has 624 yards rushing, 356 receiving and five total touchdowns, while Fitzgerald leads the team with 46 receptions for 658 yards.

Both players had been expected to play, but Fitzgerald sat out practice Wednesday and Arians said he was “iffy” for Sunday.

More crucial to Arizona’s success than its offense, which sits close to the league average at 23.7 points per game, is a stout defense led by cornerback Patrick Peterson.

“We’re definitely one of the best in the game,” Peterson said. “I believe we have caught our stride. The last two games, we didn’t give up over 200 yards passing with three or four interceptions. That’s something we’re hoping for the rest of the season.”

The Cardinals rank near the top of the NFL with only 17.6 points allowed per game, and in their past five contests, they’ve allowed fewer than 270 yards four times.

Peterson, who in the last three weeks has held Dallas receiver Dez Bryant and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson to a combined 74 yards, promises to be a challenge for the Seahawks’ less-than-stellar passing attack.

Seattle (6-4) has thrown for more than 200 yards only twice this season, instead depending on the rushing abilities of Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson, who has run for a career-high 571 yards. Lynch is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has nine rushing touchdowns – three shy of tying his career best.

The Seahawks’ reliance on the run, which has proved both consistent and effective with Wilson under center, may be forcibly lessened Sunday by Arizona’s front seven. The Cardinals have allowed just one team to rush for more than 100 yards, something Seattle has accomplished nine times.

“These guys are flying high and we have to see if we can find a way to stop them and score on these guys and then we’ll take it to the next one,” coach Pete Carroll said about Arizona. “I’m really excited about the way this thing sets up and I think most people should be with all of the drama still out there about the division.”

Seattle’s rushing attack will be without Max Unger for three to four weeks after the center suffered a high ankle sprain in a 24-20 loss to Kansas City last Sunday.

The Cardinals lead the Seahawks in the NFC West by three games. They have four divisional contests remaining after Sunday, including at home against Seattle on Dec. 21.

“There’s nothing that’s won yet,” Arians said. “You still have to come to work Wednesday or it’s all going to be gone. The only thing it does is it ratchets it up even more because each game’s bigger now.”

The Seahawks are 19-2 at home since 2012 and 14-16 against Arizona all-time.

NFL Week 12

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Sunday, Nov. 23
Game Time/Score TV Location/Tickets
Tampa Bay at Chicago 10:00am FOX Soldier Field -
Detroit at New England 10:00 am FOX Gillette Stadium -
Cleveland at Atlanta 10:00 am CBS Georgia Dome -
Green Bay at Minnesota 10:00 am FOX TCF Bank Stadium -
Jacksonville at Indianapolis 10:00 am CBS Lucas Oil Stadium -
Tennessee at Philadelphia 10:00 am CBS Lincoln Financial Field -
Cincinnati at Houston 10:00 am CBS NRG Stadium -
Arizona at Seattle 1:05 pm FOX CenturyLink Field -
St. Louis at San Diego 1:05 pm FOX Qualcomm Stadium -
Miami at Denver 1:25 pm CBS Sports Authority Field -
Washington at San Francisco 1:25 pm CBS Levi’s Stadium -
Dallas at N.Y. Giants 5:30 pm NBC MetLife Stadium -
Monday, Nov. 24
Game Time/Score TV Location/Tickets
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo 4:00 pm CBS Ford Field -
Baltimore at New Orleans 5:30 pm ESPN Mercedes-Benz Superdome