Although the Heisman Trophy is in many ways a beauty pageant, based more on team and position than whether or not the player is truly the best in the country, I am nonetheless enthralled with the tradition and clout that the award carries. With the United States out of the World Cup and the baseball team eliminated, it is truly the offseason. That being said, here is what must happen for each individual Heisman hopeful to win the trophy. Let the offseason discussion commence.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The recent NCAA sanctions damaged had a major effect on Barkley's chance to win. With talk of Reggie Bush's Heisman being 'tainted', voters may now be less willing to award the trophy to a USC player. He would need to have an absolute monster season and dominate during his biggest games to recieve much consideration, but I'd personally be very surprised if he even made it to New York thanks to his team's postseason ban.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
For Devine to win, he'll need at least 1,700 yards and display some solid crunch-time production. He would also need for West Virginia to get back to college football's forefront, which they haven't been in since Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. The major problem for Devine may be that his team may not be featured in very many big games; however, if his team is among the top 10 in the country, he will have a great opportunity to display his skills at Pittsburgh in a late season battle on November 26.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
For Gabbert to have a chance, he would need to post better statistics than his predecessor, Chase Daniel, did in 2007 and would also need to beat Oklahoma in their showdown on October 23. Mizzou would need to make an appearance in the Big 12 championship game vs. a marquee team (Texas or Oklahoma), and he would need to play well, even in a loss.
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas
For Gilbert to win, Texas must finish at least 12-1 with a Big 12 Championship. He must throw for at least 3,500 yards and 30 TD's and must also throw fewer than 12 INT's. He needs to have a huge performance in the opener vs. Rice (remember the Heisman buzz that was generated after Matt Barkley's "outlier" performance in his debut vs. Fresno State?), and he needs to do well vs. OU and, if we qualify, the Big 12 Championship Game (note: if we fail to qualify, his chance at the Heisman is approximately 0%).
Jacory Harris, QB, Miami
Harris missed a major chance to generate some preseason buzz by playing poorly in the Champs Sports Bowl, but he has nonetheless gotten some consideration. Last year, the Heisman Pundit said that Harris could be viewed to Heisman voters as a symbol of Miami's resurgence, a la Carson Palmer for USC in 2002. If Harris leads Miami to an ACC championship or BCS bowl appearance, he will likely be invited to New York provided he has adequate statistics.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Honestly, Ingram may not be the best back on his own team, let alone best player in the country, and the fact that he won the Heisman last year only makes winning this year that much harder. For Ingram to win, he would have to be the best player in the country by far, which would require him to be a touchdown machine and rush for close to 2,000 yards.
Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M
Johnson would need to beat Texas, and he would need to have great stats in that game. A&M would also need to hang with Oklahoma and make an appearance in the Big 12 championship. Johnson would also have to prove that he can make plays with his feet consistently, and if he does so he could be the second Aggie Heisman winner.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Jones is heading into a better situation in 2010 than he was in 2009, so don't be surprised if he gets an invite to New York. If the Sooners win the Big 12 and beat Texas, and he puts up comparable stats to Sam Bradford in 2008, he could very well be the second Sooner QB in three years to win the award.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
For locker to win, he would need to lead a major resurgence of the Washington program, and to do that he would have to beat USC (again), and beat two of Stanford, Oregon, and Cal. Washington would have to be at least 9-3 and he would have to prove he's earned the nickname "Tim Tebow West" by making plays with his feet as well.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck is going to need to prove that he can be an effective quarterback without Toby Gerhart to take some of the pressure off of him. He has to avoid a sophomore slump and a little NFL buzz wouldn't hurt him either. If the Cardinal beats USC and contends for a Pac-10 title, he could win the award.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Moore is another player getting some preseason buzz, but he only has a chance of winning if Boise State goes unbeaten and he posts out-of-this-world statistics. He also needs to dominate Virginia Tech in their matchup in September and Boise State must avoid any close calls with lesser opponents.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Pryor is quite possibly the favorite for the trophy, and if the Buckeyes reach the BCS National Championsip Game, he is almost a lock to end up in New York. Jim Tressel also needs to stop coaching so conservatively and let Pryor be himself; a repeat of the "reigns-on" Iowa game cannot happen for Pryor to win the award.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Rodgers is an absolutely electrifying player, but is at a disadvantage because a)he plays on the west coast and b) his team is not only a marquee program, but they are not even the main program in their state. However, if he dominates teams like he did USC in 2008, he could be in New York whether Oregon State is contending for a Pac-10 title or not.