The preseason front-runner for the Heisman Trophy last season was easy. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won it as a freshman the year before, so there was little reason to pick against him.
No different this year. Florida State's Jameis Winston won it as a freshman last season while leading the Seminoles to the national title, so, again, no sense in looking elsewhere.
But Winston is far from a lock.
Manziel couldn't come through with another Heisman last season and there has only been one repeat winner — Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975 — in the 78-year history of college football's most prestigious award.
With that in mind, we are going to run down six other players who should have a chance at taking home the Heisman:
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. The Ducks' leader was a strong Heisman contender last season before being derailed by a knee injury. He still set a school record with 4,380 yards of total offense and accounted for 40 TDs, though he was disappointed when Oregon fell out of national-title contention. After bypassing a shot at the NFL, the junior returns to lead an offense that piles up points and yards like a video game. If he stays healthy, Mariota is one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks and could find himself holding that bronze trophy.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. The Buckeyes are taking it slow with Miller after offseason shoulder surgery, but he is expected to be ready for the opener against Navy on Aug. 30. Despite missing nearly three full games with a sprained knee last season, he passed for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns, and ran for 1,068 yards and 12 scores. The Big Ten's two-time MVP, he bypassed a shot at the NFL to return to Columbus for his senior season and is motivated to make it a big one.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor. The Bears set an NCAA record with 52.4 points per game last season, and Petty was the conductor, setting 17 school records while leading Baylor to its first Big 12 title and only BCS bowl. The senior was the Big 12 offensive player of the year after passing for 4,200 yards and 32 TDs — with just three interceptions — and running for 14 more scores. Expect more big numbers from the Bears and Petty.
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