Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/29/15

The Oregon Ducks will be among the favorites to win the Pac-12 conference and the national championship next season with the return of starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has decided to stay in school and not declare for the 2014 NFL draft. He announced the decision on Tuesday. Oregon announces QB Marcus Mariota will return next season— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 03, 2013 Mariota was one of the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy entering the Ducks’ Nov. 7 matchup against the rival Stanford Cardinal, which was a 26-20 loss that ruined Oregon’s chances of playing in the BCS title game. The Ducks were also upset in stunning fashion to Arizona on Nov. 23 when they lost 42-16 and Mariota threw two interceptions. These two defeats significantly weakened Mariota’s resume for the Heisman, but he didn’t have a poor 2013 season and made positive strides as a sophomore. He threw for a career-high 3,412 yards, and added 30 touchdowns. The Honolulu native also ran for 582 yards and nine touchdowns on 7.2 yards per carry. Mariota tallied at least one passing touchdown in every game this season and didn’t throw an interception until Oregon’s 11th game. Oregon (10-2) is currently ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25 poll.Filed under: College Football, Headlines, Nicholas Goss

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