By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Alabama receiver Amari Cooper and record-breaking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon are the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Mariota is considered the clear the front-runner to win the 80th Heisman on Saturday night in New York. He would become the first Oregon player to earn college football's most famous player of the year trophy.
Mariota and the second-seeded Ducks will face Florida State and last year's Heisman winner Jameis Winston at the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Jan. 1.
Cooper helped Alabama earn the top seed in the playoff. The Crimson Tide plays Ohio State at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The deadline for voting was Monday afternoon. Finalists are determined by percentage of votes received from 929 media members and former winners.
Winston becomes the seventh player since 2003 to fail to become a two-time Heisman winner. Ohio State's Archie Griffin is the only player to win two Heismans.
Mariota has been spectacular in his third season as the Ducks' starter. He is the nation's top rated passer (186.3) and has thrown for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He also ran for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Pac-12 champions.
Gordon leads the nation with 2,336 yards rushing and 179.7 yards per game. Gordon broke the single-game FBS rushing record with 408 yards against Nebraska, a record that only stood for a week. He needs another huge game in the Outback Bowl against Auburn to break Barry Sanders' single-season record of 2,628, set in his Heisman winning season of 1988 with Oklahoma State.
Cooper set a Southeastern Conference record with 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns for the top-ranked Crimson Tide.