You might know Chris Huston as the founder of HeismanPundit, your source for all knowledge on all things Heisman-like in college football. The battle for who should win college's most prestigious trophy has always been a place where hotly contested debates ignite and often overshadows who ends up winning the award itself. Ask Andrew Luck, who despite being considered the greatest player in the college ranks the last two years ended up with no Heismans.
This year, there appear to be only two realistic contenders to win the Pac-12: Matt Barkley of the USC Trojans and De'Anthony Thomas of the Oregon Ducks. Huston lists both of them in his top ten.
Barkley has everything going for him. He's becoming one of the most popular college football players out there with his wit and his natural conversational skills, and he carries all the natural quirks that would make him a solid Heisman Trophy contender. If anything goes against him, it's his actual incumbency as the Heisman favorite, something that caused Luck problems in trying to win his own Heisman.
Huston further explains the Barkley candidacy.
He'll need to manage the pressure of being the front-runner and the expectations that go with it, and USC will have to make sure voters don't take him for granted the way they did Andrew Luck last year. Like Luck, he may lack in the excitement category, but the significance of the Trojans putting forth a viable candidate so soon after the Heisman Trust vacated Reggie Bush's award won't be lost on many voters.
Thomas is the dynamic weapon that can really shake things up. It would be weird seeing a player who touches the football only a handful of times a game win this award, but Thomas can be that dynamic and that explosive if you check out his split stats. A great season could land him a huge all-purpose yard season akin to that of Reggie Bush, and he did manage to get some hardware for a certain period of time.
Instead, they will keep an eye out for him on the highlight reels. A punt return here, a kick return there and he could be at the forefront of the Heisman race. He had 2,235 total yards and scored 18 touchdowns on just 140 touches as a true freshman, so he's got the numbers, too.