Meeting of the Minds: Who will win the Heisman?

Heisman Trophy
We’ve come to the end of Heisman Week here at CBR. There’s only one thing left to on our plate: Picking the winner.

So, who’s it going to be, fellas?

David Purdum: Matt Barkley.

The Trojans will likely be favored in each of their games.

Robert Griffin III was the 10th quarterback in the last 11 seasons to win the Heisman. Before Griffin, the last eight Heisman winners played in the national championship game.

Ty Hildenbrandt: I just want to thank David for being a trailblazer and going out on a limb.

David Purdum: I excel in picking favorites.

geno-smithTy Hildenbrandt:  I’ll throw Geno Smith’s name in the hat. While standout quarterbacks have typically been Heisman frontrunners, the most obvious choice is not always the one that wins. In reality, you could just as easily go with Denard Robinson, Landry Jones, Aaron Murray, or A.J. McCarron. But you have to like the fact that Smith will be in his second year under Dana Holgorsen’s system, which has proven to be quite tasty for quarterbacks in the past.

Andrew Coppens: I’m putting in my vote for Montee Ball. Wisconsin is a clear front-runner in the B1G and he’s got the biggest caché of any player not named Matt Barkley. I see him racking up TD totals in the high 20s and rushing for over 1,700 yards. Plus it’s time to break up the QB monopoly for a bit.

Allen Kenney: Wisky’s the “clear front-runner” in the B1G? The Great Lakes State would like a word.

Michael Felder: Honestly, how anyone can not pick Barkley seems to be a bit of wishful thinking to me? Not because he’s the best player, but because we all know the media, the voters and all the forces love them some USC. A chance to say the University of Southern California is back both with wins and by putting an exclamation point on things with a Heisman trophy for Barkley. With one truly “lose-able” game on their schedule Matt Barkley has to be the pick.

Does not mean I think he should win it though. Quite honestly, I don’t believe that Barkley is the most outstanding football player on his own team, let alone in the nation.

Ty Hildenbrandt: Only one “lose-able” game? Don’t drink all that Kool-Aide in one gulp, Felder. USC has a handful of games that could be tricky, so it’s hardly a foregone conclusion that USC will pillage the teams on its schedule and march directly to Miami.

Michael Felder: They can lose a lot of games but only one game on that schedule is one that they should lose to a team that might actually be better than they are. No Kool-Aid drinking just an understanding that this team is definitively better than their schedule in all but one game.

Aaron Torres: Am I allowed to give a cop-out answer and say that I actually don’t believe Matt Barkley will win the award, but just am not totally sure who will?

Look, we all know the media hype with him and his team is intense. There’s no arguing that. But it’s no more or less intense that what Andrew Luck was dealing with at this time last year. And the truth is, I suspect we see a little bit of the same backlash with Barkley this year that we did with Luck in 2011. You guys all watched the games like I did, and the simple truth was that if Luck didn’t complete every pass and throw a touchdown on every possession, everyone was there to criticize and call him overrated.

Now, let’s look at Barkley. The dude set a Pac-12 passing record last year, meaning that if he doesn’t throw for 39 touchdowns, if he doesn’t throw for all those yards, it’s going to be viewed as a “disappointment” by many. Is that fair? Of course not. As for everything else at USC, we also don’t know where the running game will be with just one trusted back (God forbid something happens to Curtis McNeal and defenses can drop eight into coverage on every play). Robert Woods is coming off surgery, and they’re working in a new left tackle. I think it’s tough to ask Barkley to be “better” than he was last year statistically, even if he matures as a player.

And I want to add one other point on Mike’s contention that they only have one “lose-able” game. Actually, they have two, since they’ll almost certainly see Oregon again in the Pac-12 championship game. As we all know, voters and our society in general are creatures of the moment, and we’ve seen Heismans won and lost on a big and/or bad performance in the final few weeks of the season. Barkley’s candidacy could be unfairly weighted based on his performance in that Pac-12 championship game.

Tom Perry: To play off Aaron’s response, the Oregon-USC game(s) could be the deciding factor in this year’s Heisman race. I could easily see De’Anthony Thomas surpassing Barkley if the Ducks win the Pac-12 title game. He has that “it” factor where any time he touches the ball you expect him to break it big, and he does it as a returner, running back and receiver. Chip Kelly will make sure he gets the ball in Thomas’ hands as much as possible. The Heisman Trophy is won with eye-popping statistics, but it also takes those two or three plays that every time we see it replayed it reminds us why the player should win it. Thomas will create the highlight reel necessary to win the Heisman.

Allen Kenney
: Tom, you took the words right out of my mouth. I really think it could come down to whose team gets the best of it between Barkley and the Black Mamba. I realize De’Anthony Thomas would be coming from way off the radar, but the guy is so electric that sparks fly when he gets his hands on the ball. He will have a whole mess of highlight-reel plays and will be asked to do even more for the Ducks this season with LaMichael James gone.

In the end, however, I can’t pick against Barkley. To Aaron’s point, I don’t think Barkley and Luck are in the same boat. I’m not sure that Luck was hurt by the weight of expectations as much as RG3 went out and snatched the trophy from him. If you look at the numbers, he had a season for the ages. Baylor beating Oklahoma and Texas in the same season doesn’t happen all that often – as in never – and he was the catalyst. Plus, Luck is kind of a dork, whereas Griffin is ultra-charismatic. I think people just really wanted to vote for RG3 last year more than it being a case of being disappointed with Luck’s performance.

Barkley is probably even better than the last USC signal caller to win the Heisman, Matt Leinart, and you know the media hype will be in overdrive. So long as USC lives up to expectations, it would take an RG3-type season from a challenger to unseat a Trojan QB.