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2012 Heisman Trophy Rankings, Week 1: Matt Barkley's Race To Lose

Candidacies for the 78th annual Heisman Trophy begin Thursday, as multiple college football season openers will be played all across the country. From now until December, when the trophy is presented at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square, everyone involved with college football will be debating who the nation's best player is.

Entering Week 1, dozens of players will be considered as candidates for the Heisman. But if you're not sure who is and who isn't and need a list, below is SB Nation New York's top 15 candidates entering the first week.

  1. Matt Barkley, USC Trojans, QB
  2. Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines, QB
  3. Robert Woods, USC, WR
  4. Montee Ball, Wisconson Badgers, RB
  5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma Sooners, QB
  6. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina Gamecocks, RB
  7. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon, RB
  8. Tajh Boyd, Clemeson Tigers, QB
  9. Aaron Murray, Georgia Bulldogs, QB
  10. E.J. Manuel, Florida St. Seminoles, QB
  11. Knile Davis, Arkansas Razorbacks, RB
  12. Geno Smith, West Virginia, QB
  13. Le'Veon Bell, Michigan St. Spartans, RB
  14. Tyler Bray, Tennessee Volunteers, QB
  15. Tavon Austin, WVU, WR

As the season progresses, this list will be updated (weekly) and narrowed, so by December it can help predict this year's Heisman Trophy winner.

Of course, no list would be credible unless it had reasoning behind it -- of course, that's if you describe my reasoning as "credible". So, let me give you a few thoughts about the Heisman race heading into Week 1.

Its Barkley's trophy to lose

Four years of waiting have come down to this: a National Championship run, a solid Heisman Trophy candidacy and, hopefully, a resume good enough to help him become the No. 1-overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.

All of that is at stake for the Trojan senior, who probably will be disappointed if all three weren't accomplished by year's end. (Note: one of three happened for Andrew Luck and things are OK for him.)

To get to the point, the Trojans enter their season with a lot of offensive firepower that should mow through a mediocre non-conference and Pac-12 slate -- the only hiccup (or Heisman Trophy moment) should came Nov. 3 against visiting Oregon.

All-in-all, everything is being served to Barkley on a giant Heisman Trophy platter. All he needs to do is eat the food and not gag all over the guests.

I like B.J. Daniels (South Florida Bulls, QB) as a dark horse

Yes, Daniels isn't in my initial top 15 but I'll go on the record and say, he's going to be a factor in this race.

The 6-foot-0, 217-pound single caller, who's entering his fourth year as starter at USF, has all the tools to be THAT guy which comes out of nowhere to be a finalist visiting NYC in December.

And it all starts Sat., Sept. 29, against visiting FSU -- mark it down.

Enjoy Week 1

Right off the bat, college football sends us some doozy games that will have Heisman Trophy implications.

All I have to say is: Enjoy Michigan State (Le'Veon Bell) vs. Boise State; Michigan (Denard Robinson) vs. Alabama; and Clemson (Tajh Boyd) at Auburn.

Lists are silly, but fun

To be honest, weekly lists or power rankings drive me insane. Week-by-week so much can change. And what usually happens by the end of the season? Its the full body of work that helps a player earn the Heisman Trophy.

But, lists are also fun and is why people love to look'em up. So, if you're reading this and hating every word, please, stick around because by year's end you will be glad you did.

For more news on the Heisman Trophy, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For more SB Nation videos, check out its YouTube page.