In each of the last 14 seasons, the Heisman Trophy has been awarded to a quarterback or a running back. This makes sense as these two positions are paramount to a team’s success, and each team’s offensive leader and game-breaker tends to play at these positions. Here’s an early look at the Top 10 players to watch in college football in 2012.
Sign up at Bovada NOW and deposit for your 20% Free Bet bonus up to $100.
Barkley leads talented group of quarterbacks as Heisman favorite
Matt Barkley’s decision to forego the NFL draft and return to USC for one more season made the Trojans the favorite to win the National Championship at 7/2 and Barkley the favorite to win the Heisman at 3/1.
It is arguably his trophy to lose; not only does Barkley have the hype and pedigree, but he’s also playing in a very winnable Pac-12 South and bringing the Trojans back to splendor after two years of bowl ineligibility is the type of story Heisman Trophies are made for. And with 3,528 passing yards and 39 touchdowns to just seven interceptions last season, he certainly has the talent to put up the stats to boot.
Of course, it was Andrew Luck’s trophy to lose when Robert Griffin III stole it from his grasp last year; and Denard Robinson (11/2 to win the Heisman) has the dual-threat talent to do the same. While Robinson isn’t as polished of a quarterback as Griffin III was, his huge arm and unbelievable speed make him a home run threat on every play; and if Michigan can finish the season with a Big Ten title, Robinson’s name will definitely be up for consideration.
Landry Jones (7/1) has passed for over 4400 yards and 29 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, but Oklahoma has unraveled in both years. In the pass-happy Big 12, Oklahoma and Jones should continue to put up huge offensive numbers; if the Sooners can couple that with an undefeated regular season, the senior quarterback will have a pretty nice resume heading into New York.
Montee Ball enters the season as the nation’s top running back
With 33 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (5/1) tied Barry Sanders for the most touchdowns ever in a college football season. But despite this feat and rushing for 1,923 yards, Ball got shut out on both the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker awards. Told by pro scouts he wasn’t NFL ready, Ball should return this season with a chip on his shoulder ready to show everyone that he is the nation’s best.
Pro scouts may not be convinced on Ball, but no one doubts the pedigree of South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore (15/1). An absolute beast and the sole driving factor of South Carolina’s offense, an injury last year ended Lattimore’s season as well as his hopes of entering the NFL draft. Even in the bruising SEC, Lattimore will likely put up big numbers in both the yardage and touchdown columns.
No discussion of running backs is complete without talking about the Oregon Ducks’ backfield. De’Anthony Thomas (20/1) takes over for the departed LaMichael James, and he is even faster than James was, making him a deadly weapon in Oregon’s lethal spread attack. In just 55 carries last year, Thomas had 595 yards and seven touchdowns.
Other quarterbacks that could be in the mix
Considering the fact that the SEC has manufactured six straight BCS champions and three of the last five Heisman Trophy winners, the conference is a pretty good place to look for value in the Heisman race.
Georgia’s Aaron Murray could be one of the best values in the field at 15/1. Coming off a strong 2011 campaign (3,149 yards with 35 touchdowns to 14 interceptions), Murray’s Bulldogs dodge all three of the SEC’s top dogs in LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas during the regular season, setting the table for a potential undefeated run that would skyrocket Murray’s stock.
Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (16/1) and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron (20/1) are also solid contenders in the SEC. Wilson has the numbers (3,638 yards with 24 TD and 6 INT in 2011), and will get the chance to make a statement against LSU and Alabama. McCarron is more of the game manager type, but if Alabama runs the table and he has a few big games, he could get in the mix.
Looking outside of the SEC to one more big name is West Virginia’s Geno Smith. After putting up a monster year in 2011 with 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, the Mountaineers’ star could make a huge splash if he takes another step forward.
Bet on football and find your odds for the 2013 BCS Championship at Bovada.
NFL Betting Odds: Early NFL Futures Preview
Bovada College Football Player Props
Bovada Football Futures