2012 O'Brien Award Watch List: Analyzing Big Favorites and Most Obvious Snub

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans conducts the band after the game with the UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 50-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

We continue through the debut of the Award Watch Lists and after yesterday's Biletnikoff Award was released, today we go from receivers to the men throwing them the ball; quarterbacks. The Davey O'Brien Award Watch List debuted, and with that came 34 quarterbacks all fighting to be the best in the game for 2012.

There are some off the radar players who should work their way into household names. Guys like Ryan Aplin at Arkansas State, Riley Nelson at BYU and Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville are very much deserving as being mentioned among the nation's best. Even Jeff Tuel, out at Washington State, gets the "Mike Leach" bump as a guy that people are expecting to build upon the little success he showed last season.

However, as nice as it is for the list to include guys from every conference, a quick study of the history of the award would clue you in to one thing; the Davey O'Brien Award does not deal in "the little guy." Sure, Andre Ware and Ty Detmer, by today's standards would have been non-BCS guys. That said, the Cougars were in a marquee conference known as the SWC and BYU was one of the nation's premier quarterbacking institutions. In short, they weren't the BYU and Houston that we know today.

The point here is that while the little guy is nice, the fact is they are not going to win it. This year, as it has worked for the bulk of the awards' existence, the winner will come from a high powered team from a high powered conference. In other words the pool for the award can be cut from the 34 names to a list of e;even guys; Tyler Wilson, Aaron Murray, Landry Jones, Casey Pachall, Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Logan Thomas, Tajh Boyd, EJ Manuel, Braxton Miller and Denard Robinson.

Oh, and of course the one player not named on the list with a legitimate shot at winning the award, Danny O'Brien, the transfer set to take the helm at Wisconsin. 

Twelve guys. All from power teams. Each with eyes on the Davey O'Brien award and the teams around them to make that dream a reality. As it stands right now Matt Barkley is the guy to beat; he's looking to leave his mark on the Trojans' program and winning the O'Brien, something no USC quarterback has done, would be a heck of a statement.

There are a lot of great quarterbacks around the nation, however those power guys are who the Davey O'Brien will likely fall into the hands of. As with the Heisman for 2012, it seems all roads to offensive and quarterback awards go through Matt Barkley; we'll see if he lives up to the challenge.