College Football Weekly Heisman Trophy Watch 2012

De'anthony Thomas Takes the Lead in the Early Heisman Race

Thanks to a stifling defensive performance by the Stanford Cardinal against USC, there is a new leader in CLA’s weekly Heisman pecking order. Early season favorite Matt Barkley struggled against the Cardinal, failing to throw a touchdown and throwing interceptions on consecutive passes in the Trojans 21-14 loss in Palo Alto.

1. DeAnthony Thomas RB Oregon

The Black Mamba has seven offensive touchdowns on only 24 offensive touches, including a ridiculous 17.5 yards per carry average. After beating up on mediocre competition, Oregon should be tested by Rich Rod’s high-scoring Arizona Wildcats at Autzen Stadium Saturday night. Expect Thomas to be primed for the challenge and continue to find the end zone with ease.

2. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA

The UCLA Bruins perfect start has been fueled in large part by workhorse running back Johnathan Franklin. The senior leads the nation in rushing yards with 541 and three touchdowns. Franklin has added eight receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.

As the Bruins head into conference play, they will be relying on Franklin to lead the way and take pressure off first-year starter Brett Hundley. A 2,000 yard campaign appears within reach and could propel Franklin to New York.

3. Geno Smith QB West Virginia

Through two games, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has been nearly perfect. Smith has amassed 734 yards with nine touchdowns with an 88 percent completion percentage. Smith has yet to throw an interception or be sacked.

With a lot of big games left on the schedule, Smith should have plenty of opportunities to impress voters and make his case for the Heisman.

4. Matt Barkley QB USC

Barkley must shake off his poor performance against Stanford and lead the Trojans to the Pac 12 title to keep his Heisman hopes alive. With several key games remaining, Barkley is still in the mix but can ill afford another dismal outing.

5. Marquis Lee WR USC

Despite the Trojans defeat, wide receiver Marquis Lee continued to produce, hauling in eight balls for 100 yards. For the season, Lee has 29 receptions for 363 yards and four touchdowns. Much like Barkley, the Trojans will likely have to win out for Lee to have a serious shot at the hardware.