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CAMPAIGN 2012

Aug. 20, 2012
Aug. 20, 2012

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Aug. 20, 2012

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Success, stats and schedule are the talking points for any Heisman candidate, and these Magnificent Seven hopefuls are worthy of the preelection billboard treatment

This is an article from the Aug. 20, 2012 issue

MONTEE BALL

Wisconsin RB, Sr.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Touchdown machine

TEAM SUCCESS

Wisconsin has a new coordinator, QB, fullback and three first-time starters on the line. But the offense remains explosive, the best in the Big Ten, and will make the Badgers a national factor for the entire fall.

THE NUMBERS

What's next after tying Barry Sanders's TD record (39) and finishing third in FBS in rushing (1,923 yards)? He will put up worthy numbers, but it's unrealistic to think he will duplicate his 2011 stats.

SCHEDULE

A trip to Nebraska and Michigan State at home could be tricky, but another Big Ten title-game berth is likely. Last year that game helped get Ball to the Downtown Athletic Club dance.

LANDRY JONES

Oklahoma QB, Sr.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Underrated record-setting passer

TEAM SUCCESS

With Jones playing behind a line that has 102 combined starts and in front of some talented backs, his Sooners have the foundation for a run at a national title, but a go-to receiver will need to emerge.

THE NUMBERS

Another 4,000-yard season seems a given for the Sooners' alltime leader in yards (12,379) and TD passes (93), though he has to cut down on his picks (15 in '11) to become the third Heisman winner of the Bob Stoops era.

SCHEDULE

September (vs. Kansas State) and October (vs. Texas and Notre Dame) offer big tests, and a strong stretch drive against ranked West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU could punch Jones's ticket to New York City.

MARCUS LATTIMORE

South Carolina RB, Jr.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Six yards and a cloud of dust

TEAM SUCCESS

As the face of a team primed to contend for an SEC East crown, Lattimore is the conference's best shot at claiming a fourth trophy in the last six years. He'd be only the second runner since 2000 to win the award.

THE NUMBERS

He averaged 23.2 carries in '11 before a season-ending knee injury, but the emergence of dual-threat QB Connor Shaw should lighten his workload. If he's 100%, Lattimore's a threat for 1,500 yards.

SCHEDULE

Lattimore faces two defenses that were 25th or better against the rush last season (Georgia and LSU), but they come in consecutive weeks. Those games will make or break his candidacy.

DE'ANTHONY THOMAS

Oregon RB, Soph.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Electric all-purpose monster

TEAM SUCCESS

The Ducks are the class of the Pac-12 North, and Thomas's highlight-reel skills will be fully exploited in Chip Kelly's lethal spread. Fellow burner Kenjon Barner will get his touches too, which will keep Thomas fresh.

THE NUMBERS

He scored rushing (seven TDs), receiving (nine) and on kick returns (two) while amassing 2,235 total yards as a freshman. He should have no problem blowing those figures away.

SCHEDULE

Oregon doesn't see a preseason-ranked team until November, giving Thomas time to pad his stats. His chances, as with Barkley's, largely rest with his showing in the Pac-12's game of the year at the Coliseum.

DENARD ROBINSON

Michigan QB, Sr.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Nation's premier dual-threat QB

TEAM SUCCESS

Michigan is back. Shoelace even got a shout-out from President Obama in January. He has the weapons around him to keep defenses honest. Now if he can just show an improved passing touch.

THE NUMBERS

Another 2,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing year is within his grasp, and voters love dual-threat QBs. But his completion percentage (a seven-point slip in '11) must improve if he wants to win the hardware.

SCHEDULE

Robinson can seize the lead with a big day against Alabama in the opener. If he remains steady against Notre Dame and the conference slate and gets the Wolverines to the Big Ten title game, he'll be tough to beat.

GENO SMITH

West Virginia QB, Sr.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM: Lights up scoreboards

TEAM SUCCESS

As the Mountaineers showed in their 70-point Orange Bowl eruption, they'll fit right in with the rest of the pass-happy Big 12, where Smith gets a bigger stage to prove he's among the nation's elite passers.

THE NUMBERS

Dana Holgorsen's QBs have thrown for more than 5,000 yards in three of five seasons, and with the return of two 1,000-yard receivers (Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin), Smith should become the fourth.

SCHEDULE

He'll face only one defense that ranked better than 60th against the pass in '11. But Smith's candidacy hinges on a brutal stretch against Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONJOHN BIEVER (BALL); PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONDAVID E. KLUTHO; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONGARY BOGDON (LATTIMORE); PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPETER READ MILLER; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONLON HORWEDEL/ICON SMI (ROBINSON); PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONMARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLENPHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPETER READ MILLER; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS ALLEN