The countdown ends today, without much of a surprise.
No. 1 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Making the case: Ryan Nassib and Khaseem Greene had outstanding seasons, but Teddy Bridgewater topped them all with his performance for the Cardinals, cementing himself as a preseason candidate for the 2013 Heisman Trophy. Were there some scares for the Cardinals this season? Absolutely. But Bridgewater ended up saving his team on just about every occasion, and won Big East Offensive Player of the Year honors for his efforts.
He was better in every aspect of his game as a sophomore, throwing for more yards (3,718), more touchdown passes (27), more completions (287) and fewer interceptions (eight) while completing more of his passes (68.5 percent) than a year ago. He keyed several second-half comebacks, including last-minute wins against USF, Cincinnati and Rutgers.
That Rutgers game showed exactly what type of leader he is, as he played through a broken wrist and sprained ankle to lead the Cardinals to the win and a BCS berth. But that was not the performance that caught the nation's attention. It was his performance against Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl that had people going gaga. Bridgewater played exceptionally well against what was supposed to be a top-notch Florida defense, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the 33-23 upset win. That game effectively began his Heisman campaign.
Given the way he played in 2012, I think it is safe to say he will stay in this spot when we begin our 2013 preseason Top 25 in the summer.
Preseason ranking: No. 5
No. 2 Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
No. 3 Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
No. 4 Trevardo Williams, DE, UConn
No. 5 Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
No. 6 Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
No. 7 Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse
No. 8 George Winn, RB, Cincinnati
No. 9 Montel Harris, RB, Temple
No. 10 Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
No. 11 Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
No. 12 Greg Blair, LB, Cincinnati
No. 13 Ray Graham/Jawan Jamison, RBs, Pitt/Rutgers
No. 14 Mario Benavides, C, Louisville
No. 15 Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville
No. 16 Sio Moore, LB, UConn
No. 17 Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse
No. 18 Scott Vallone, DT, Rutgers
No. 19 Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
No. 20 Devin Street, WR, Pitt
No. 21 DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
No. 22 Matt Brown, RB, Temple
No. 23 Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
No. 24 Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple
No. 25 Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt