Heisman Watch 2012: Previewing the Top Contenders' Matchups for Week 3
Yes, it's only the second week of the season, so I felt obligated to stir up some Heisman discussion.
This list runs down the top 16 contenders, as delivered to us by ESPN, and takes a peek at their matchups this week and the potential impact on the Heisman race.
You will find no Montee Ball or Tyler Wilson on this list, as these guys have seriously underperformed from their preseason hype.
The 16 players found here have performed on another level, especially the top seven or so, and several have a shot at making a huge statement this week against top-flight competition.
Note: All game times listed in EDT.
16. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Next Up: vs FAU, 7:30 p.m., GamePlan/ESPN3
Aaron Murray has some work to do to thrust himself into the forefront of the Heisman race, but is capable of doing so very quickly.
He currently sits at 300 yards, with six touchdowns to only one interception. Solid numbers, but could be better.
He will have a big chance to improve on his thus far solid performance Saturday against a hapless FAU defense that has allowed an average of 5.6 yards per play to Wagner and Middle Tennessee State.
Murray and wide receiver Tavarres King will have a monster game against a less-than-stellar defense.
15. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. No.18 Florida, 6 p.m., ESPN
Bray checks in as one of only two SEC quarterbacks on this list.
He and his Volunteer teammates face a Florida defense that has not been quite as stout as expected, allowing over 330 yards of offense per game.
Going into this rivalry game, Bray's performance this season has been superb. He has completed over 73 percent of his passes, scored six times and has yet to throw an interception.
Against a speedy Florida defense with playmakers camped out at just about every position, Bray has the opportunity to thrust himself into the middle of serious Heisman talk with a big-time performance and win over the Gators.
Then again, in the SEC, he will have plenty of those.
14. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Kevin Casey/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Tennessee Tech, 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Let's be real here—Oregon has dominated lesser FBS opponents Fresno State and Arkansas State this year, and has an even "lesser" opponent on tap for this weekend.
Kenjon Barner has 43 rushing attempts this season, and five of them have gone for touchdowns, even though he has been splitting time in the backfield with De'Anthony Thomas.
Barner is a long-shot for the award, especially if Thomas continues to steal carries and production. That said, Tennessee Tech is going to give up some points, and if Barner can find the end zone a few times, his stock will rise.
13. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Next Up: Bye
Let's see, Jones and the Sooners have the week off, so we can at least count on him not to throw an interception.
Jones' numbers this season are not as gaudy as others' on this list, with only four touchdowns to one pick and fewer than 500 yards.
He needs to come back prepared to put up huge numbers for the rest of the season if he hopes to finally be a serious contender.
12. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Furman, 3 p.m., GamePlan/ESPN3
It's Hopkins, not Sammy Watkins, that has been the focal point of Clemson's passing attack so far this season.
The man called "Nuke" has had a great start to this campaign, amassing 224 yards in his first two games, and scoring four times.
With in-state FCS foe Furman up next, Hopkins will find paydirt again at least once.
Whether he continues to produce once conference play begins is yet to be seen.
11. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Cal, Noon, ABC
Before you cry foul, Miller has been the only consistent part of the Buckeyes offense and has accounted for 69.96 percent of OSU's total offensive production this season.
While not great passing the ball, he has been solid and has scored seven total times this season, while throwing only one interception.
Miller continues to mature, and he will face a Cal defense that allowed Southern Utah to score three points and lost to Nevada the week before that.
This kid is uber-athletic and will flourish in Urban Meyer's offense, which will showcase his skills this Saturday in the 'Shoe against the Bucks' first BCS opponent of the season.
10. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Yes, there is actually a player on this list from the Big East. It's hard to believe, I know.
Bridgewater has been excellent thus far, completing 81.7 percent of his passes while throwing for 576 yards.
Now, Bridgewater will face his second BCS-conference defense this season and have a chance to shine on national television.
Given the Big East's penchant for failure lately, he has a little bit of pressure on his shoulders.
9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. UAB, 7 p.m., Gameplan/ESPN3
Marcus Lattimore's numbers aren't the best in the country, but he hasn't had to carry the ball a ton yet.
Against SEC competition (other than Vanderbilt), Lattimore is going to be a workhorse. This week, the competition is a little less tough, as the Gamecocks take on the UAB Blazers.
If Lattimore is on the field for any length of time, you can expect huge production.
8. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. North Texas, 7 p.m., FSN
It's time to quit shunning this guy into the shadows.
Collin Klein is a superb rushing quarterback who admittedly needs some work on his throwing motion and decisions. But he consistently scores points.
He has thrown three touchdowns and one interception this season, but has found paydirt three times on the ground, after finishing second in the nation last season in rushing touchdowns.
North Texas has allowed over 173 yards per game on the ground this season. The Mean Green are going to be overmatched against K-State, and Klein will have a huge day,
7. Jarvis Jones, LB Georgia
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. FAU, 7:30 p.m., Gameplan/ESPN3
Jones checks in as the only defensive player on the list.
So far, he is putting up huge defensive numbers, carrying a defense that has been missing four key players for each of the Dawgs' first two games.
He has three sacks on the season, to go with an interception and 17 tackles in only two games.
Florida Atlantic does not have a particularly talented offense, and Jones should have another huge impact against the Owls.
He will have to continue the solid play through the entire SEC season to be in Heisman consideration.
6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Next Up: at No. 21 Stanford, 7:30 p.m., FOX
After a less-than-stellar performance as a team against Syracuse last week, the team travels to Stanford to take on the Cardinal.
The Cardinal defense has been very good, especially in the front seven, but the team has yet to see an offense such as the Trojans'.
Lee has the opportunity in this one to make a statement, and after a three-touchdown performance last week on the road and a 10-catch day, Lee is going to dominate the Stanford Cardinal defense.
5. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Notre Dame, 8 p.m., ABC
Bell thrust himself into the midst of this conversation with a two-touchdown performance and ridiculous play against Boise State in the opener.
Last week against Central Michigan, he scored two more.
Against Notre Dame, he has his work cut out for him. The Irish have not allowed a rushing touchdown this season and have only allowed 3.41 yards per attempt in their two games.
In prime time, this is an excellent chance for Bell to make his bid for the Heisman against his second ranked opponent on national television.
4. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Houston, 10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Who is this guy?
Jonathan Franklin has come out of nowhere, scoring four touchdowns this season and shredding a decent Nebraska defense for 217 yards rushing and 19.7 yards per reception against the Huskers.
Houston is a mess, and the Bruins have some serious bowl aspirations once again.
Franklin will continue to run all over the opposition.
3. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. Tennessee Tech, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
This is all you need to know about DAT's numbers this season: he averages 16.6 yards per carry and 10.1 yards per catch.
He has scored five times on limited touches against subpar opponents. Tennessee Tech is in trouble.
2. Geno Smith, QB, WVU
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Next Up: vs. James Madison, 4:30 p.m., Root Sports
Geno Smith has only played one game, against Marshall, but he was excellent in that contest.
He completed 88.9 percent of his passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also added a score on the ground.
James Madison is not even going to slow the Mountaineers offense with Smith at the helm, and Smith will double his touchdown total in this contest.
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Next Up: at No. 21 Stanford, 7:30 p.m., Fox
Like it or not, this Heisman is Barkley's to lose.
He must perform at an other-worldly level, and SC must continue to win if he wishes to take home the hardware in December.
After a six-touchdown performance last week versus Syracuse, Barkley now has 10 touchdowns through two weeks and has already thrown for 558 yards.
Stanford's defense is the stoutest the Trojans have faced yet, but Barkley has the tools and weapons to make some huge plays on Saturday.