Most people see Stanford's Andrew Luck as the prohibitive Heisman favorite heading into 2011?
But is he?
According to ESPN Insider Ryan McCrystal and the Heisman Predictor, no. That honor goes to Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.
The key to Jones' candidacy will be his success in big games. The Sooners are set to face three teams ranked in the AP preseason top 10 (Florida State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State), which will give Jones a chance to shine on the biggest stage throughout the course of the season.
Assuming each of those games is a matchup of top-10 teams, Jones could earn up to 15 Predictor Points. These potential performance-based points -- which, obviously, are not available to every candidate -- give Jones a decided advantage over his closest competitors. Andrew Luck, for example, has only one preseason top-10 team on his schedule (Oregon).
If Jones earns those 15 points and leads Oklahoma to a record of 12-1 or better, it will be difficult for anyone to unseat Jones as the Heisman front-runner.
What do you think?
Jones is near the top of the list, but the Predictor also notes that five of the last eight Heisman winners have been quarterbacks that led their team to the national title game.
For now, Jones is clearly on track to do that.
Also of interest: Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is at the top of the list for Heisman dark horses.
It is never easy to go from relative unknown to Heisman winner, and it usually takes a historical season to make it happen (such as Newton's last season). Of this year's dark horses, Tannehill may have the best chance to come from nowhere to steal the hardware for two reasons:
(1) Texas A&M is ranked 8th in the AP preseason poll, meaning the BCS Championship Game is well within reach; (2) the Aggies travel to Oklahoma on Nov. 5.
If that game is a battle between undefeated teams, the quarterback of the winning team could become the runaway Heisman favorite, especially if it's Tannehill.
I wouldn't rule it out.