20 August 2012

Who will win the Heisman Trophy in 2012?

And whenever you talk about the dawn of a new college football, you always have to discuss who the potential candidates are for the highest individual award, the Heisman Trophy. Of course, note that the preseason favorite is not always the victor. Andrew Luck of Stanford was thought to be the favorite all season, only Baylor's Robert Griffin III put together a completely ridiculous campaign and one of the best in his school's history to take home the hardware with some truly memorable moments like this one. And so the question at hand is who will be taking home the Heisman this year?

The favorite going into the 2012 favorite is another quarterback from California, Matt Barkley of USC. And like Luck, he has spurned the NFL once and he will return as a senior to help lead the Trojans to a national title, one they are expected to contend for. Barkley will have the spotlight shining brightly on him and deservedly so after a brilliant 2011 (3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns, 69.1% completion), a tremendous skill-set and the best receiving corps in the nation, led by Robert Woods and Marquis Lee. What's not to like?

Not much, but Barkley is actually not my preseason pick. That would be Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. He put up video game numbers a season ago with a record-tying 39 rushing touchdowns (of course over one  more game than Barry Sanders's record from 1988 but let bygones be bygones) and 1,923 yards, third in the FBS, and there is no reason to expect Ball to have a fall off; Wisconsin loves to pound the ground game and they have an awesome offensive line. I'm projecting the Badgers to reach the Rose Bowl for a second straight season and I am not alone in those high projections for this Wisconsin team, which will keep Ball in the spotlight all season and I think his numbers, as well as his impact on his team, will tilt the award towards Ball.

Who could possibly pull a Griffin and put up some insane numbers but remain somewhat under-the-radar until moving his chips towards the center of the table when it matters most? I think many are thinking that Geno Smith of West Virginia could be that guy. Smith put up some huge numbers last season, under the brilliant Dana Holgorsen, with 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns, and with even better knowledge of the Air Raid, as well as raised expectations thanks to the move to the Big XII, Smith could very well be a stalking horse in search of the Heisman, potentially pulling ahead late in the game?

You want some potential dark horses? One guy I have my eye on is Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Klein was a huge reason behind Kansas State's surprising ten win campaign of 2011 thanks to his tough running skills as he rushed for 27 touchdowns and 1,141 yards on an astounding 317 carries. The key on Klein this season will be to work on his passing skills which were hit-or-miss last season. If Klein can utilize his underrated arm this season, and have another strong season in conference then somehow find a way into the BCS, Klein could be holding the trophy at the Downtown Athletic Club in December.

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