College Football Week 2 Predictions: Heisman Front-Runners After This Weekend

Ethan GrantAnalyst ISeptember 8, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 1:  De'Anthony Thomas #6 of the Oregon Ducks rushes against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on September 1, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 57-34.  (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

After opening weekend in college football, LeVeon Bell and Geno Smith ruled the Heisman airwaves with stellar performances to catapult their teams to victory. After Week 2, we'll be ushering in names from Clemson, UCLA and maybe even the great state of Nebraska.

With so little sample size, it's hard to tell who is going to keep up their impressive play and who is going to fade into the background of the thousands upon thousands of collegiate athletes.

The ones who will make national and potentially historic impacts have good matchups this weekend and are also catalysts for the success of their teams. 


LeVeon Bell, Michigan State

Sparty's running back elevated himself from dark-horse contention with his all-around clutch performance in keeping Michigan State from losing its home opener to Boise State.

Expect more of the same against Central Michigan, against which his carries will likely be low but his touchdown mark high. Bell rushed for three touchdowns against the Chippewas last year, when he was splitting carries with Edwin Baker.

No doubt Michigan State will try to save the star running back some wear and tear if they can jump out to an early lead, saving him for a big matchup with Notre Dame in Week 3.

But he won't do anything to remove his name from the top five this weekend. 


De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

It's quite the same story for Thomas. The Ducks' do-it-all skill player scored three TDs last weekend, and he could potentially do the same this week as Oregon takes on heavy underdog Fresno State.

Able to line up in virtually every position possible, Thomas is a matchup nightmare with his speed on the edge and ability to make guys miss, and he's a solid route-runner, too.

Like Bell, he can only help his case by giving Marcus Mariota a go-to target as the Ducks are getting up early on Fresno State.


Andre Ellington, Clemson

The ACC puts its name in the headlines with Ellington, who quietly rushed for over 200 yards on just over 20 carries for the Tigers. He's got weapons upon weapons on the outside, and with Tahj Boyd at the helm, it opens up all kind of running room for the running back.

Clemson takes on Ball State, against which Ellington can put his stats in the minds of voters going forward.


Geno Smith, West Virginia

Smith and the Mountaineers are on a bye this week, but his big day in Week 1 won't soon be lost on the voters. Look for Smith to drop in nearly all the rankings, but not because of anything other than timing.

He'll be back on the list after games against James Madison and Maryland, maybe even at the top.


Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

The redshirt senior RB picked up three TDs and over 200 yards on the ground against Rice. After several years of disappointing teams for the Bruins, Franklin has a chance to propel this year's squad to new heights if UCLA can knock off a ranked Nebraska team at home.

Southern Mississippi racked up 185 yards on the ground against the Cornhuskers last weekend, so UCLA should establish the ground game all night long with Franklin, who will reap the benefits of that strategy and enter the Heisman conversation. 


Taylor Martinez, Nebraska

Although Nebraska and UCLA are matching up this weekend, that doesn't mean both Franklin and Martinez can't enter the Heisman watch, especially considering how early it is in the season and how much of a thriller I anticipate this matchup being.

Martinez threw five touchdowns against Southern Mississippi, and we didn't even see any of the rushing ability that made him a household name as a freshman just two seasons ago.

I think it's going to be a barn-burner between these two teams, and both Heisman hopefuls will affect the outcome in a big way.


Current Dark-Horse Candidates

Marquise Lee, USC

Matt Barkley, USC

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Nick Florence, Baylor

Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Montee Ball, WIsconsin