Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Barkley, USC
The senior slinger is the national favorite to win the Heisman and be the first overall pick in the draft. But before he books himself two flights to New York, Barkley has some serious work to do.
Bowl eligible for the first time since the Reggie Bush scandal, USC will be in the hunt for a national title. Couple that with Heisman expectations and Barkley will have a plate full of expectations. Every since he stepped in as Mark Sanchez's successor as a true freshman, Barkley has handled the pressure that comes along with USC starting quarterback, and many think he will deliver.
In the 2011 season, Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, 35 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Thomas has proven himself to be a real showstopper with his sudden bursts of speed and a wide range of versatility. Mixed with Chip Kelly's relentless offensive attack, Oregon's No. 6 will terrorize the opposition.
ESPN blog writer Kevin Gemmell writes:
[Thomas's] exploits can be packaged into an explosive highlight reel that is easily digestible for East Coast voters. No one ever gets tired of seeing 85-yard touchdown runs (unless you're safeties chasing Thomas)."
Thomas finished the year with 595 yards rushing, 605 receiving and a total of 18 touchdowns all as backup to LaMichael James. Just imagine what he will accomplish as a starter.
Washington's Keith Price has been thrown around in the Heisman mix. However, he is widely unknown to east-coast pundits, which is a travesty considering they pull the puppet strings on all that is college football polling.
He can gain some serious attention if he performs well against LSU early in the year, but don't expect him to win unless the Huskies can take down USC and Barkley.
Although Stepfan Taylor isn't listed as an official candidate, keep your eyes out for Stanford's running back as a possible dark-horse contender.
Don't believe me? Then have at what he can do.
His combination of speed and strength allowed him to run for 1,330 yds and 10 TD. With Andrew Luck gone and the offense falling on his shoulders, don't rule out another Cardinal Cinderella in the Heisman running, i.e. Toby Gerhart.