Sports

2012 Heisman Power Rankings: USC, Oregon, Michigan State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and More

| by Alex Groberman

The 2012 Heisman race will probably be more interesting this season than it has been at any point over the last five years.

With guys like Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson and so on and so forth all angling for the award, monster stats may not be enough on this go-around. All of them will put up crazy numbers. No, the way that the eventual Heisman winner will likely separate himself from the pack this year is by leading his team to the promise land – or at least keeping it in contention over the course of an entire season.

One week into the proceedings, you’ll notice that the only notable omission from these rankings is Denard Robinson. While he and Michigan definitely deserve credit for not scheduling a weak game to start off the year, they also deserve all of the criticism that comes with the sort of beating they took. It was a bad showing, and Robinson was bad in it.

Aside from that, though, the list should look pretty standard for now. Here are our top three Heisman candidates as of Week 1:

1. Matt Barkley, USC:

One game versus Hawaii can’t win you a Heisman, but it can definitely lose you a Heisman. If Matt Barkley hadn’t come out full force and dominated against admittedly weak competition, we -- and everyone else -- would have roasted him. Fortunately for USC’s offensive leader, though, he did dominate. Four touchdowns and 372 yards? That’s how you start a season.

2. Geno Smith, West Virginia:

Geno Smith won’t compete for the National Title this year, so that he means he has to work twice as hard as Matt Barkley just to earn the same amount of acclaim. During his Week 1 showdown versus Marshall, Smith played out of his mind. 32 of 36 for 323 yards and four scores? Yup, those numbers are going to be need to put up with regularity over the rest of the season.

3. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State:

The good – 210 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, and 55 receiving yards versus a somewhat formidable opponent in Boise State. The bad – it all came on a total of 50 total touches. There is no way Bell can take that sort of abuse for a whole year and still produce monster numbers. No. Way. For now, however, he’s definitely sitting pretty atop a lot of other people in our Heisman rankings.

Honorable Mentions: Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, Andre Ellington, DeAnthony Thomas, Taylor Martinez, T.J. Yeldon.

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