College Football Rankings 2012: Breaking Down Top Heisman Contenders

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IAugust 30, 2012

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Running back Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers leaps over John Boyett #20 of the Oregon Ducks in the third quarter at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Players will tell you they don't care about individual awards, but this is the Heisman Trophy we're talking about.

Baylor's Robert Griffin III, now with the Washington Redskins, won the award last season, flashing his smile and his socks in the process.

Which star will take home the award for the 2012-13 season?

Well, let's take a look.


5. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

The knock on Denard Robinson is that he is still an inconsistent and rather inaccurate quarterback.

However, when it all comes together, boy is it a beautiful thing to watch.

Robinson passed for over 2,100 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year under head coach Brady Hoke last season. Of course, he also notched his second consecutive 1,000-yard season rushing the football, complete with 16 touchdowns.

On the other hand, Robinson also completed 55 percent of his passes and threw 15 interceptions last season. If he improves in the pocket in 2012, he could have his best season yet.


4. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Geno Smith made a mockery of West Virginia's passing records last season, throwing for over 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns.

It's not just because Smith threw the ball a lot, either. He completed 65.8 percent of his passes and averaged 8.34 yards per attempt.

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey aren't bad weapons to have at your disposal, either.


3. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

I know Marcus Lattimore is coming off a torn ACL, but the kid can flat-out play the game of football and he's reportedly run well in camp.

Lattimore notched over 1,600 total yards and 19 total touchdowns in his freshman season. He was well on his way to another fantastic campaign when he tore his ACL against Mississippi State in his seventh game last season. Up until that point, he had rushed for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 182 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Lattimore is a warrior. If he can stay healthy, he has a legitimate shot at the Heisman.


2. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

It's hard to believe Montee Ball was ranked 33rd at his position by in 2009.

All Ball has done since then is, well, ball. The senior racked up over 1,900 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground last season. He also added 306 yards and six touchdowns through the air. 

Russell Wilson or not, Ball is a prime contender for the Heisman this season. He's proven to be one of the best running backs in college football.


1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

USC may have been under a bowl ban last season, but try telling that to Matt Barkley.

Barkley and the Trojans set out to conquer the world last season. This group blistered to a 10-2 record and won their last four games, including a 38-35 victory over then-No. 4 Oregon and a 50-0 blowout of UCLA.

Barkley was at the center of everything, using his various weapons (including receiver Robert Woods) to throw for over 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns, while tossing just seven interceptions. He completed 69.1 percent of his passes.

Barkley is a big reason why the Trojans are ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll this year, and I don't expect him to disappoint.


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