Heisman Watch Week One: Bell, Barkley Best Competition On Opening Weekend

Marcus Lattimore

When South Carolina’s quarterback Connor Shaw injured his shoulder, forcing him into the locker room, the Gamecocks were more than allowed to feel a little fear. But any worry that Shaw might have created for the Gamecock faithful disappeared as a result of the performance Marcus Lattimore was putting on against Vanderbilt on college football’s opening night.

Lattimore rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Commodores defense, providing just the right spark for the Gamecocks to outlast a very game Vandy squad. In the 17-13 South Carolina victory, Lattimore provided the offensive weapon the Gamecocks needed all game, and when Shaw returned in the second half, it was the threat and usefulness of Lattimore that allowed South Carolina to escape an upset bid. All in all, a good start to Lattimore’s 2012 campaign.

Montee Ball

Though Montee Ball wasn’t a show stopper — and his team didn’t put on a show-stopping performance against Northern Iowa — Ball was effective and impressive enough Saturday to give his Heisman candidacy the start it needs in this long-haul of a season. Ball rushed for 120 yards and a score on Saturday against the Panthers, and added 31 yards receiving to put himself just over the 150 mark for the day.

Ball and Wisconsin will need stronger showings against the strong defenses to come, but given their prowess last season against Big Ten defenses — with Ball proving key — it’s safe to expect big things out of the Badgers and Ball in 2012.

Matt Barkley

Matt Barkley’s first pass Saturday went for 75 yards and a touchdown. It was that kind of day for Barkley and USC in the Trojans’ 2012 debut. Barkley finished the game with 351 yards and four touchdowns, picking up just where he left off in 2011 — a year that saw him break a handful of Pac-12 and USC records.

Barkley ended up sitting a significant part of the game after USC had run the score to a good distance, as back up Max Wittek got some snaps. Barkley and USC will head out to the east coast next to meet Syracuse, which will give Barkley another shot at putting up some impressive numbers early in this Heisman race.

Geno Smith

In wasn’t ever close in Morgantown on college football’s opening weekend, and Geno Smith had a lot to do with it. The senior’s 323 yards and four touchdowns passing helped West Virginia crush Marshall in its opening contest, and started Smith’s campaign for the Heisman with a bang.

Smith also grabbed 65 yards on the ground and added a rushing touchdown to showcase just how big of a threat his arm and feet are against defenses. Certainly no one on the field shone as brightly as Smith, who will next get to flex his dual-threat attack against FCS James Madison. If Smith can collect a big game there, he could be well on the way to being in this conversation for the long haul.

Le’Veon Bell

Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell may have been somewhat under the radar coming into the 2012 season, but his performance during college football’s opening week likely changed that for good. Rushing for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a nationally televised, Friday night showdown with Boise State, Bell squarely placed himself in the early Heisman conversation with one of the weekend’s best performances.

Bell was a dark horse Heisman candidate coming into the season following a 2011 where he collected nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and more than 350 yards receiving for a Michigan State team that was part of the national conversation all season. With a victory over the top-25 ranked Broncos to start their season, it looks like Sparty — and by extension Bell — will be around for the long haul this year.

On The Radar:

Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas

Oregon’s duo of athletes had themselves a couple of games against Arkansas State. But their dual production somewhat diminishes from the personal achievement. Can either break out as the star?

Denard Robinson

A rough start to Robinson’s much-hyped campaign for a Heisman against Alabama has probably set him back significantly. Can he recover?

2012 Preseason Heisman Watch: Robinson, Barkley, Lattimore Lead Loaded Class

Denard Robinson

Dual threat if there ever was one, Denard Robinson spent the better part of the last three seasons electrifying Wolverine fans up and down the field and around the country. Last season saw the junior rush for more than 1,000 yards while passing for more than 2,000 for the second straight season, the only player in NCAA history to reach those levels in two consecutive years. Those things alone place Robinson squarely in the Heisman conversation coming into the 2012 season.

Clearly, the stats are there to support a Heisman campaign, however, as has been the case in the past, concerns linger about Robinson’s ability as a complete passer. If he aspires to a Tim Tebow-like season (and the Heisman that could come with it), he must bring his production as a passer to a level that is commensurate with the best quarterbacks in the country. Robinson’s career 4:3 touchdown to interception ratio will simply not cut it if Robinson hopes to contend for the trophy this season.

Matt Barkley

Matt Barkley has been through a lot as USC’s quarterback. In 2011, the bowl-ineligible Trojans prospered from Barkley’s experience, finishing 10-2 as Barkley broke the Pac-12’s single-season passing touchdowns record and all the other things seemed to melt away. Faced now instead with hype and expectation similar to that of the USC-dominated mid-2000s, Barkley is the media’s preseason favorite for the award.

A junior season of 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns will do that for any quarterback, let alone one also expected to lead a national title contending team of Trojans. Difficult games await USC in the deepening Pac-12, but if USC can stay in the national title race all season, Barkley is likely — at the very least — to stay in the Heisman conversation all year.

Marcus Lattimore

Few running backs enter their sophomore season with as much hype as Marcus Lattimore did in 2011. Coming off a 1,000-yard freshman rushing season against SEC defenses, Lattimore readied to contend for a Heisman trophy as a sophomore at South Carolina. It all seemed in place until the South Carolina running back tore his ACL against Mississippi State midway through his season.

Suddenly, Lattimore was out of the conversation and out of the national consciousness, but 2012 is a new year, and the back who electrified the SEC as an 18- and 19-year-old for 1,197 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns is back again to light Gamecocks opponents up. His 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games in 2011 isn’t exactly Heisman-winning pace, but playing under the bright lights of SEC football, Lattimore’s production is sure to put him in the conversation all season.

Montee Ball

In a conference prideful of the way its defenses make teams fight for every yard, Montee Ball certainly was worth his weight on the gridiron in 2011. Wisconsin’s star running back torched defenses for nearly 2,000 yards rushing and 39 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns — tying the all-time FBS record.

Though it will be difficult to match his record-breaking junior season, anything that approaches his 2011 output against an even stouter Big Ten crop of defenders will easily position Ball for a second selection as a Heisman finalist. Finishing fourth in last year’s Heisman balloting and then dropping the Rose Bowl to Oregon was probably not the finish Ball envisioned, but if the Badgers can continue an unprecedented run of success in 2012, expect Ball to stay on the national consciousness all season.

Geno Smith

Sure, 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns in any FBS conference is impressive, but in Geno Smith’s case, those impressive numbers came against a Big East conference who’s national profile hasn’t often warranted its stars being recognized on a national and Heisman level in the last decade. Smith will play his last season with West Virginia in a new conference and get the chance to prove his worth all over again.

West Virginia moves to the Big 12 this year, and although not necessarily known for its defense (Cowboys, Wildcats, Sooners and Bears seem more of the offensive mind these days), the conference is certainly visible in a way the Big East often is not. With a stat line like the one he put up in 2011, the senior quarterback might just be able to give the Mountaineers not only with a chance for a return trip to the BCS, but also a shot at personal achievement — in this case, well-deserved consideration for the Heisman trophy.

Others to Watch

Landry Jones

Helmer of by no means bad, but underwhelming, Oklahoma teams in back-to-back years, senior quarterback Landry Jones has seen his preseason Heisman hype dissipate the last two years. Both years saw 4,400 or more passing yards, but no invite to NYC. Could more of the same in 2012 change that?

Tyler Wilson

If it’s possible, Tyler Wilson’s junior season as Arkansas’s quarterback — all 3,600 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 wins — was largely forgotten in the all-SEC title game bonanza. Though Arkansas again enters the season outside of the seemingly BCS-ensued preseason SEC top-two, Wilson certainly has a shot at some Heisman attention his senior season.

De’Anthony Thomas

From the moment De’Anthony Thomas hit the field during his first game as a Duck, it was clear he was a spark plug in the Duck mold — fast, efficient and great to watch. Racking up an even 1,200 yards of combined rushing and receiving in 2011, the freshman was a factor all over the field. Could he be even more in 2012?

AJ McCarron

A national champion quarterback has rarely been as unheralded as A.J. McCarron. Perhaps the perception belied the fact that Crimson Tide faithful widely lauded McCarron for his work in the title game despite the lack of eye-catching statistics. The junior’s 2012 season might have a little more attention turned its way.

Jadeveon Clowney

The honor of SEC Freshman of the Year hasn’t exactly turned into Heisman glory down the road for recent recipients, but that a defensive lineman received the honor is stark enough of a fact that Clowney should register on Heisman pundits radars all season. Many expect big things of the South Carolina sophomore, and delivering on them could spell some national attention.

2012 BCS AQ Conference Profile: SEC

BCS Know How is taking you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences in preparation for the 2012 season. Our easy-to-digest previews come to an end with as much of a “BCS” conference as there is, the SEC. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other conferences.

Conference: Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Active Since: 1933

Current Member Schools:
East Division: Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores, Missouri Tigers
West Division: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Louisiana State (LSU) Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels, Texas A&M Aggies (14)

Bowl Affiliations: Sugar Bowl (BCS), Independence Bowl, Music City Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl, Cotton Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl (10)

2011 Results:
Conference Champion — LSU
Conference Runner-up — Georgia
BCS Bowl Results: 2012 BCS National Championship Game: Alabama 21 vs. LSU 0
Overall Bowl Record: 6-3 (BCSNCG accounted for both a win and a loss)
Heisman Vote Recipients: Alabama RB Trent Richardson (Third Overall); LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu (Fifth Overall)

2012 Outlook: By now, you probably know the story, the debates and the outcome. For the first time in BCS history, 2011 saw a title game between two teams from the same conference. It wasn’t all that surprising that the conference that was first the break through that barrier was the SEC, which has now provided the BCS’s last six champions.

Alabama was victorious in that game, after being bested by LSU earlier in 2011’s regular season. But that now must become a memory, as the conference searches for its next title hopeful. The question is, of course, would their best hope be the Tigers and Crimson Tide again? Or can another squad from the ever-deepening rosters of the SEC send another team to the top?

This certainly isn’t a two-team conference, and with two new teams this year — Big 12 transfers Missouri and Texas A&M — the conference has literally never been deeper. While the two newbies probably don’t have the firepower to hang with the Tigers and Tide, there are plenty of teams that do.

South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia join Alabama and LSU as consensus top-ten teams across the country, and just like last year, this season could be another one dominated by the SEC, long the pride of the short-for-this-world BCS.

Heisman Hopefuls: South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, Alabama RB Eddie Lacy, Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas RB Knile Davis, LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu

BCS Know How’s 2012 Predictions:
Conference Champion — LSU Tigers
Conference Runner-up — Georgia Bulldogs
BCS bids: LSU Tigers — BCS National Championship Game; Alabama Crimson Tide — Sugar Bowl
Heisman Finalists — South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

Heisman Watch Week Five: Richardson Fires Up Career Day, Luck Shows Versatility

Trent Richardson

A primetime slot and a top-15 matchup at his control, Richardson did not disappoint, gashing Florida’s defense for 181 yards and two touchdowns, all while helping the Crimson Tide assert itself once again as one of — if not the — best teams in the nation.

Richardson refused to be tackled on a number of occasions, dragging Gator defenders around the field and bringing his already impressive yards after contact numbers to another level.

The junior running back’s career-best 181 is more than enough to reassert his own Heisman candidacy, and with Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Tennessee on the docket for the Tide, Richardson could get a nice little bump in his Heisman stock in the midst of the always daunting SEC schedule.

Landry Jones

With doubt cast among the national media on the legitimacy of Jones’s Heisman campaign after a few underwhelming performances of late, Jones took full advantage of an easier opponent and bolstered the all-important stat line that often proves important in the Heisman race.

Jones tossed five touchdowns and 425 in Oklahoma’s absolute thrashing of Ball State, and with passes flying across the field to his cavalry of receivers, Jones showed the skill that has had him in the midst of this conversation since the start of the season.

Next week will be another true test for Jones, as the Sooners take on Texas in the all-important Red River Rivalry game. Shine there, and Jones could salvage any drop in Heisman stock with a strong performance there.

Robert Griffin III

Griffin had it all going Saturday, tossing TDs and bombs across the field, all while the Twitter and sports worlds began to realize just what kind of skill the junior quarterback had to offer.

But a late interception sealed Griffin and Baylor’s fate, as Kansas State drove for the game-winning field goal and sent the Bears to their first loss.

The loss aside, however, Griffin’s statistics are hard to ignore. Already piling up more than 1300 yards through the air and 18 touchdowns, Griffin has set himself up as one of the top passers in the nation. Look out for Griffin to stick around this conversation for some time, even if the Bears don’t remain in the national picture.

Andrew Luck

Arm stretched out, feet floating on the ground, Andrew Luck had the ball under control. But was he passing the ball to an open receiver down the field? No, he was catching one from reciever Drew Terrell on a night that Luck had his way with the UCLA defense.

In the Cardinal’s 45-19 victory over the Bruins, Luck had 227 passing yards, 13 receiving yards and 11 rushing yards to go with his three passing touchdowns to portray the role of Heisman frontrunner once again, this time in almost all offensive capacities.

With just four incompletions on the night, Luck showed once again why he is the prohibitive favorite for the award a month into the season, carving up the Bruin defense and posting numbers that were more than enough to get the Cardinal by the Bruin attack.

Yes it wasn’t always pretty, and the Cardinal certainly didn’t stack up to the performances of Wisconsin, Alabama or Oklahoma on the night, but Luck did his best impression of a all-purpose Heisman quarterback, and for now, that’s more than enough to keep him in the thick of things for college football’s most prestigious award.

Kellen Moore

One of the more unusual games in Moore’s run through his collegiate career might have not done much for his Heisman hopes this early in the season, but it could serve a better purpose — to show Boise State is not simply a one trick pony and that they could very well hang with some of the more potent teams in the country.

Moore tossed for less than 150 yards and just two touchdowns against two interceptions and 14 incompletions. Not numbers that you might expect to find next to the senior’s name, but enough to keep Nevada on its toes while it had to deal with Broncos running back Doug Martin. Moore also found some support from his defense against an always effective Nevada attack.

That kind of balance speaks well for the Broncos moving forward, but of course, if Moore is interested in a Heisman run this season, he will need to step his production up, and quickly.

Heisman Watch Week Four: Richardson, Lattimore, Jones Show Versatility

Trent Richardson

Nothing too spectacular out of Richardson this weekend, save for a giant reception down the far sideline for a touchdown that all but showed that the Crimson Tide were the better team against Arkansas on Saturday.

Richardson’s 126 yards on the ground, while impressive, weren’t matched with any scores, which in such a stat-obsessed mindset, is not going to do Richardson any favors on the Heisman level. But if voters were watching, they saw everything that makes Richardson so dangerous, although he did not hit the end zone via a rush attempt.

Landry Jones

Mixed bag would probably best describe the kind of day Jones had against Missouri.

Yes, the junior had 448 yards against a dangerous Missouri team, three touchdowns and once again showed he is the leader of one of the best teams in the nation, but liberally tossing the ball around the field did get Jones in trouble a bit, as he tossed two picks against the Tigers defense.

Of course, rushing for a touchdown always helps open the eyes of voters to your versatility, but Denard Robinson Jones is not.

Marcus Lattimore

One of those games where Lattimore shows his versatility likely did nothing too special for Lattimore’s Heisman hopes, but the running back did taste the end zone twice, once on the ground and once through the air.

His 611 yards on the season are second best in the FBS, behind Oregon’s LaMichael James, who if Lattimore doesn’t pick up his game in the next couple weeks, could reappear right here, knocking Lattimore off the list.

Andrew Luck

Luck had the weekend off, but will be tested severely over the next few weeks as the Cardinal take on the always dangerous Pac-12 gauntlet.

Strong performances in all-important conference games will certainly up the senior’s stock among Heisman voters.

Kellen Moore

Moore tore Toledo apart in just 2 1/2 quarters of play on the blue turf. In classic Kellen Moore fashion, the senior tossed just 29 passes, completing 23 of them for four touchdowns and 279 yards, doing more than enough to ensure the Broncos would end the night victorious.

Games continue to pile up for Moore, and so do the wins for the Broncos, but is he doing enough to make a name for himself in a less than competitive version of the MWC?

Heisman Watch Week Three: Lattimore, Moore Carry Teams to Victory

Trent Richardson

Easy wins over non-SEC opponents have become commonplace to the Crimson Tide these past few years, but the numbers the Tide put up against those teams are impressive nonetheless.

Richardson was not the only one to put up those shockingly impressive numbers Saturday against North Texas, but his were certainly some of the more impressive, as the running back posted 167 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Richardson’s day was highlighted by a massive 71-yard dash to the endzone against the less than formidable North Texas defense, but his runs were impressive despite the relative lack of a defensive front to combat.

Alabama and Richardson will next start their SEC schedule against Arkansas, and as we all know, success in the SEC means Heismans and BCS title game bids. Are both in Richardson’s future?

Landry Jones

The candidacy of the best player on the best team in the nation is always one to watch with interest. Whether the player has a career game or a mediocre one, Heisman always seems to creep up around that player’s name. In Landry Jones’s case, his game against Florida State was not his best — in fact it may rank among his most ordinary — but Oklahoma won, and on the road, giving Jones the comfort of knowing he and the Sooners will remain in the title hunt.

The type of gritty game Jones and the Sooners played Saturday was the kind that wins teams national championships, and winning (or competing for) titles is always a good way to keep one’s name in the Heisman race — and Jones’s 199 yards and one touchdown are probably good enough to keep him around for at least one more week.

Marcus Lattimore

There are times when a single player saves a team from sure defeat on his own shoulders, giving that team just enough to overcome the opponent. Rare is it, though, that that team is one ranked in the top 10 and already viewed as a national title contender.

But on Saturday, that’s exactly the role Marcus Lattimore provided for the South Carolina Gamecocks, using his truly inspiring 246-yard, three-touchdown performance to keep the Gamecocks undefeated and provide another reason to include the sophomore in this ever-crowding Heisman race early in the 2011 season.

Lattimore, like Richardson, starts his SEC trail next weekend against Auburn, and anything like the performance he turned in against Navy, and Lattimore should see his name at the top of a few Heisman watch lists come October.

Andrew Luck

Luck’s first Pac-12 game was nothing extraordinary for the senior, but of course, these days, being non-extraordinary still means putting up huge, game-defining numbers.

Luck posted 325 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona Saturday night, giving the Cardinal more than enough to start their Pac-12 schedule with a big victory over the Wildcats.

The first half was a struggle for Luck and the Cardinal — as it has been in the past few weeks — but three touchdowns in the second half proved more than enough to put Luck and the Cardinal over the top.

More games in the tough Pac-12 are in Luck’s immediate future, and strong performances like this one will certainly help the senior’s Heisman candidacy.

Kellen Moore

Friday nights and Kellen Moore throwing the ball over the field on ESPN. Almost as familiar to the Friday-night television audience as TGIF once was back in the day on another Disney television channel, ABC.

This week was no different, as Toledo fell trap to Moore’s extreme efficiency and precision, as the senior team leader threw for 455 yards and five scores against an obviously over matched Toledo defensive alignment.

Moore picked apart every piece of the field Friday, even as his own defense had trouble stopping Toledo early. His one pick early did not bode well, but Moore persevered, threading needles and bombing the ball down field, once again showing a national audience the skill hidden in the Boise fields.

2011 Preseason Heisman Watch: Returning Stars Highlight Trophy Chase

This Heisman Watch is from Aug. 19. To see the most recent edition of BCS Know How’s Heisman Watch, scroll down to the end of this post. Thanks!

Trent Richardson

Back-up to a Heisman winner. Replacement for an injured Heisman winner. At times, out-performing a Heisman winner.

This was Trent Richardson’s 2010. What can he do to make 2011 even more special? Well compete for a Heisman of his own, of course.

As backup to Mark Ingram, Richardson’s profile was somewhat diminished at the beginning of last season, but this year, Richardson comes into the season with the gig and the hype to match.

Richardson hit the ground running at Alabama with a key performance in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, one that keyed the Crimson Tide’s victory over Texas. Now in 2011, the junior has a chance to lead his team all season, and with the national media electing Alabama as the preseason favorite for a return bid to BCS glory, Richardson will be squarely in the viewfinder of the media, in prime position for a Heisman run of his own.

Landry Jones

Sam Bradford’s shoulder and Landry Jones’s career will forever be linked. But with the right kind of 2011, Jones could see another link appear between the two Sooner legends — Heisman Trophy recipients.

Jones’s early days at Oklahoma were marked by his substitution for Bradford after rough hits against BYU and Texas in 2009. But ever since that Red River Rivalry game in ’09, the Sooners have been Jones’s team.

After an up-and-down 2011 for the senior that did result in a BCS bowl victory, Oklahoma’s first since 2002, but little Heisman consideration.

Expect that to change in 2011 as Jones and Oklahoma are favored to join Alabama in the national title game. If Jones is able to lead his Sooners to New Orleans in January, it would surprise no one to also see his face in New York in December.

LaMichael James

Speed, speed and more speed. That was Oregon’s offensive attack in 2010. Expect more of the same in 2011.

At the heart of this Duck plan of attack is of course LaMichael James, the speedster who finished 2010 with a nation’s-best 1,682 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.

James will be the dangerous Pac-12 back everyone expects him to be, but will his national profile continue to be as large as it was while Oregon was on its way to a BCS National Championship Game berth? The answer to that question will be key to whether James can jump from a third-place finish in last year’s balloting for the Heisman to lifting the trophy come December.

Don’t be surprised to see James’s name atop many of those Heisman watch lists (this one included) if the Ducks can march back to the title game in 2011.

Andrew Luck

After Andrew Luck spent 2010 staking his claim as the nation’s best pro-style quarterback, the NFL called to Andrew Luck. With pro scouts drooling over Luck’s arm and intellect, he was projected as the year’s No. 1 overall pick.

But Luck wanted to stay in school. To many, it seemed foolish. But now, Luck returns to college football as the de facto favorite for the Heisman trophy in 2011 after finishing second to Cam Newton in 2010.

Luck will take on the new Pac-12 in 2011, but don’t expect different results. Luck is sure to once again pick apart the best the expanded conference can offer, and will be in the Heisman conversation for the long haul.

Did Luck make the right decision? Many might say no, unless Luck is to win the trophy. But don’t be surprised if he ends up doing just that.

Kellen Moore

Idaho is not exactly a bastion of quarterbacking legend. Rare is it that the nation’s premiere passer — and winner — resides in the state. But there Kellen Moore is, with just two losses to his name, a BCS bowl victory and all kinds of scintillating passing numbers.

Moore returns in 2011 as a household name of college football, ranked by the Sporting News as the very best college football player in the country. With that comes the expectation that on the iconic blue field he will once again make a run at the Heisman Trophy.

Moore spent much of last year near the top of Heisman watch lists, but never could quite push past the sheer domination of Cam Newton, the eventual trophy recipient. For his redshirt senior year, Moore will be at the top of the list again, but this time as the old guard — and to some the favorite.

His Boise State team is once again ranked in the top 10 in preseason balloting, and Moore will certainly look to break the Broncos into the national title discussion again. If he can finally break that barrier for the non-AQ schools, there will be no denying Moore’s place among the all-time great winners in college football history, and might just mean a Heisman is waiting in New York City for him.

Others to Watch

Matt Barkley

Now in his third year as the starter at USC, Barkley will look to lead the Trojans despite the postseason ban continuing as part of the NCAA sanctions against the school. A second year under the tutelage of Lane Kiffin might give the junior a better grasp on the offense, and a possible Heisman run may await.

Justin Blackmon

Blackmon did quite a number on Big 12 defenses last season, and returns in 2011 looking to do more. A DUI charge likely halted his Heisman hopes in 2010, but with a new season comes possibility for this junior.

Case Keenum

Injuries decimated Keenum’s run at a Heisman last season, but the gaudy passer in Houston’s air-attack offense is back for another year, and if he can withstand the injury bug, could put up numbers that will shock voters in considering the sixth-year senior.

Marcus Lattimore

A breakout freshman year in a Steve Spurrier offense did wonders for Lattimore’s national recognition, and helped South Carolina win the SEC East. Now in 2011, Lattimore, along with Richardson, is one of the premiere offensive players in the SEC. That’s been a good thing to say these past couple years — Cam Newton and Mark Ingram will tell you that — can Lattimore do more of the same?

Denard Robinson

Michigan’s dual-threat quarterback was all the rage in 2010 while his team was undefeated and Robinson looked like an early-season favorite for the award. The meat of the Big Ten schedule certainly returned Robinson to earth. Can 2011 be different for the dynamic athlete?