Top 10 Heisman Candidates Heading Into College Football Week 1

Top 10 Heisman Candidates Heading Into College Football Week 1

Heisman Trophy
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With the 2014 college football season about to start in earnest, it seems like a good time to check in on who might contend for the Heisman Trophy this year. The race has already lost a leading contender in Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, who is out for the season. So before the games begin, here are the top 10 players to keep an eye on with regards to the Heisman Trophy entering Week 1.

10. QB Chuckie Keeton, Utah St.

Chuckie Keeton Utah State
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10. QB Chuckie Keeton, Utah St.

Chuckie Keeton Utah State
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Every Heisman watch list needs a dark horse, and the Aggies’ Keeton seems to be everyone’s sleeper pick this year. The hype isn’t unjustified, as Keeton is as dangerous and dynamic a dual-threat player as any QB in the country. His biggest obstacle will obviously be getting enough national attention at a smaller school like Utah St. But if he puts up enough big stats, Keeton could work his way into the Heisman conversation.

9. QB Trevor Knight, Oklahoma

Trevor Knight Oklahoma
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9. QB Trevor Knight, Oklahoma

Trevor Knight Oklahoma
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Few players in recent memory have improved their stock so much with one performance, but that is exactly what Knight did in the Sooners’ Sugar Bowl upset win over Alabama last year. Oklahoma is the preseason favorite in the Big 12, with many projecting them to make college football’s inaugural final four. As the QB of a highly-ranked team, Knight will be under Heisman consideration almost by default.

8. RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

T.J. Yeldon Alabama
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8. RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

T.J. Yeldon Alabama
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A good deal of the Heisman voting process involves so-called “glamor positions”. Alabama running back has fit the bill in recent years, as Yeldon will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Alabama is expecting a bounce-back season after two disastrous losses to end the 2013 season. With Yeldon carrying the load, the Crimson Tide are certainly capable of doing so.

7. QB Nick Marshall, Auburn

Nick Marshall BCS National Championship-Florida State vs Auburn
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7. QB Nick Marshall, Auburn

Nick Marshall BCS National Championship-Florida State vs Auburn
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After leading the Tigers on a surprising run to the National Championship game in 2013, Marshall returns to a squad that is once again poised to make a run at both an SEC and national title. Even without Greg Robinson and Tre Mason, the Auburn offense figures to be one of the most explosive units in the country. Marshall is the classic dual-threat QB that Heisman voters love.

6. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

Bryce Petty Baylor
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6. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

Bryce Petty Baylor
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Stats can do wonders for a player’s Heisman chances, and few players in the country figure to have better stats than Petty. As the maestro of Baylor’s hyper-paced offense, Petty could actually improve on last year’s ridiculous totals (4,200 yards, 32 TDs, three INTs). Having perhaps the nation’s best receiver in Antwan Goodley sure helps.

5. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon Indiana at Wisconsin
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5. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

Melvin Gordon Indiana at Wisconsin
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Much like Petty, Gordon has the potential to post video game-like numbers for the Badgers in 2014. He will be running behind the NFL factory that is Wisconsin’s offensive line, so there figure to be plenty of holes. Gordon will be in the national spotlight right away as the Badgers’ season opener is a big one against LSU in Houston, Texas.

4. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Todd Gurley Georgia
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4. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Todd Gurley Georgia
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Gurley already has earned rave reviews from NFL scouts and next year could be the rare RB selected in the first round of the draft. For now he just hopes to help Georgia compete for an SEC title and a berth in the College Football Playoff. His Bulldogs have a marquee matchup in Week 1 when they go up against a Clemson defense led by All-American end Vic Beasley.

3. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA

Brett Hundley Sun Bowl-Virginia Tech vs UCLA
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3. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA

Brett Hundley Sun Bowl-Virginia Tech vs UCLA
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While less talked about nationally than Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, Hundley has a chance to surpass both if UCLA can usurp Mariota’s Ducks as well as Stanford atop the Pac-12. Hundley made the wise decision to return to Los Angeles for his redshirt junior season. If everything falls into place for the Bruins, his patience could net him the Heisman Trophy.

2. QB Jameis Winston, Florida St.

Jameis Winston Florida State
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2. QB Jameis Winston, Florida St.

Jameis Winston Florida State
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While the defending champion Seminoles are the odds-on favorite to win the National Championship again, it may be more difficult for Winston to repeat as Heisman Trophy winner. The feat has only been accomplished once (Archie Griffin in 1974 and ’75), due in large part to the voters’ desire to avoid sameness. It will take a season of historic proportions for Winston to repeat, but if anyone can do it, he can.

1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Marcus Mariota Oregon
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1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Marcus Mariota Oregon
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

No player in college football enters the 2014 season with more hype surrounding him than Mariota, both at the college and pro levels. As the favorite to both win the Heisman Trophy and also to go No. 1 in next year’s NFL Draft, the expectations can’t be much higher for the Oregon QB. But Mariota is a special player with the right demeanor to endear himself to Heisman voters. As of Week 1, the Heisman is Mariota’s to lose.