Sep 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans receiver Marqise Lee (9) scores on a 100-yard kickoff return in the third quarter against the Hawaii Warriors at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
After week one, six potential Heisman Trophy contenders emerged from the Conference of Champions. Who was the top performer in week 1?
1) Marqise Lee, USC Trojans (282 all-purpose yards, 10 catches, two touchdowns). As was suspected, Lee has surpassed Robert Woods as the number one receiver on the Trojans with his athletic burst and incredible second-level explosiveness. Lee's kickoff return proved how deadly he could be in the open field, and his one cut and go on a Hawaii defender proved how dangerous he could be when guarded improperly one-on-one. Is he Reggie Bush in a wide receiver's body?
2) Johnathan Franklin, UCLA Bruins (223 all-purpose yards, 14.3 rushing yards per carry, three touchdowns) . With UCLA's quarterback finally looking like a threat to both run and pass and the Bruins offensive line starting to look significantly better, Franklin took advantage of a porous Rice defense and exploded for three big scores that proved to be the difference between close contest and rout.
3) Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks (81.8% completion rate, 9.1 yards per attempt, three TDs): Mariota was pretty much perfect in his debut, and helped set the table for a routine Ducks rout. He only had to rush a few times but averaged a solid six yards per attempt. 224 total yards isn't too bad considering he only had to play less than 40% of the game. He'd rank higher if he'd played a full game.
4) De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon Ducks (125 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns): A pretty modest night for the Black Mamba, until you realized he only touched the football eight times (three rushes for 64 yards, four receptions for 55 yards, one six-yard punt return). That's fifteen yards per touch. How exactly do you stop a team that can trot a missile like De'Anthony as its third weapon on offense?
5) Matt Barkley, USC (60.5% completion rate, 9.8 yards per pass attempt) Kind of weird to see the Heisman favorite this far down the list, but Barkley didn't have an overpowering week like the rest of his contemporaries. Barkley struggled at times to connect with his receivers.
This is not the week he'll win or lose the Heisman race though; it's the ability to be consistent at QB that can differentiate him from everyone else. His stiffest foes are far away, and that's when Barkley should begin his march up this list.
Honorable Mention: Star Lotulelei, Utah. Let's give kudos to the most dominant defensive unit in the conference in Week 1 by acknowledging the team captain. The Utes battered a lowly Northern Colorado offense in every facet of the game, allowing only 35 yards on the ground (on 24 carries!) and an overall passing efficiency around 60 (6th in the country after the opening game). Lotulelei had only three tackles, but Utah's defensive steel begins right with the big body in the middle of the trenches.
The most impressive performance by a Pac-12 player in Week 1 was...
Marqise Lee, USC (54 votes)
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (58 votes)
Marcus Mariota, Oregon (90 votes)
De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (51 votes)
Matt Barkley, USC (12 votes)
Star Lotulelei, Utah (15 votes)
280 total votes