Heisman Power Rankings 2012: Preseason Predictions

By Ty Duffy

Yesterday, we went through some longshot Heisman bets we like. Today, here are our predictions for how the Heisman race plays out over the season.

Matt Barkley [QB – USC] Upside: He’s blonde and gleaming. He will get a shit-ton of national exposure. Downside: he’s going to be this year’s Andrew Luck, spending the entire season getting his game picked apart by NFL Draft fetishists enthusiasts.

De’Anthony Thomas [RB/WR Oregon] Upside: He’s disgustingly fast. He will get more touches and play smarter as a sophomore. We really like him at 20-1 or longer. Downside: Expecting Heisman voters to stay up for those 8:00 ET kickoffs in the P12 may be a bit optimistic.

Denard Robinson [QB – Michigan] Upside: He’s at a major program and could put up some huge numbers on the ground and in the passing game, presuming he takes a step forward in his second year under Al Borges. Downside: this could all come crashing down if he gets shut down by Alabama in week one.

Geno Smith [QB – West Virginia] Upside: Smith is moving into his second year in Dana Holgorsen’s system and will captain an eye-popping offense, if his six TD passes against Clemson were any preview. Downside: Putting up numbers on an 8-9 win WVU team moving to a new conference won’t impress front-running voters.

Montee Ball [RB – Wisconsin] Upside: Ball will start the season with far more exposure than he had last season, which certainly helps. Downside: Wisconsin lost a dynamic player at quarterback, three elite-caliber offensive linemen and its best playmaker at wide receiver. He’ll have a great year, but likely will not approach the 39TD and 2,200 total yards.

Why Not Landry Jones? Jones has gotten a lot of publicity. He’s a record-setting senior quarterback on a team with a fortuitous schedule. Why not him? (1) He’s a known commodity and folks have soured on him. (2) Blake Bell will sap his red zone production. Jones threw for just three touchdown passes the final five games of 2011. Bell ran for 12 touchdowns in the “Belldozer” package over the same span. Not a coincidence.

[Photo via Presswire]