Thanks to high-powered spread offenses being en vogue in college football, there is a good chance that another quarterback may win the 2014 Heisman Trophy.
Below are my five top quarterbacks to watch:
Bryce Petty (QB, Baylor) The main trigger man in Art Briles up-tempo, no-huddle offense in 2013, Petty is poised to bring a second Heisman Trophy back to Waco. After passing for 4,340 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions, Petty will be tested in the always wide-open Big 12 with his biggest challenge coming in a primetime matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners.
If Petty dazzles in Norman, don’t be shocked if he is all smiles in New York.
Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon) One of the most prolific and electric playmakers in college football, the Hawaiian signal-caller led the high-scoring Oregon Ducks to a 30-7 Alamo Bowl win over the Texas Longhorns. For the season, Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions and rushed for 715 yards and nine touchdowns.
With what will be his toughest game against personal nemesis, Stanford at home, and if he emerges victorious, then he will have a good shot a winning college football’s biggest award.
Braxton Miller (QB, Ohio State) While not as prolific in the air as Petty and Mariota, Ohio State Buckeyes senior quarterback Braxton Miller may be the best dual-threat quarterback in college football. Despite passing for 2,094 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, Miller rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In losing Carlos Hyde to the NFL, Miller will have to carry more of the load on offense. If Miller is able to take his game to the next level in games versus nemesis Michigan State, arch-rival Michigan, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech then he will more than likely bring home Ohio State’s eighth Heisman.
Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA) Another dual-threat quarterback like Mariota and Miller, UCLA Bruins junior quarterback, Brett Hundley could possible be the most high-profile sleeper, as he doesn’t have the big name of Mariota, the exciting big-play ability of Miller, Hundley has the ability to make plays through the air and on the ground as he passed for 3,071 yards, 24 touchdowns while rushing for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With showcase games against Oregon, crosstown rival USC and Stanford all at home, if Hundley performs well, he could vault himself into the national conversation.
Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State) The 14th defending Heisman Trophy winner to return to school, Florida State Seminoles quarterback, Winston hopes to become the first back-to-back winner since Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in 1974-75. Winston was simply dominant in leading FSU to their third national title in passing for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and ten interceptions.
In 2014-15, Winston has a legitimate shot at repeating thanks a reloaded Noles’ team and a very weak conference schedule—with the exception of North Carolina and associate member, Notre Dame.
If Winston dominates against the Irish in Tallahassee and romps over bitter rival, Florida, Winston could be knocking on the door of college football immortality.
Honorable Mention: Everett Golston (Notre Dame), Maty Mauk (Mizzou), Nick Marshall (Auburn), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), Shane Carden (East Carolina), Jared Goff (Cal)
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