Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll: Geno Smith moves to the top of crowded field

The Mountaineers' Geno Smith is the new leader in the Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll. (US Presswire)

West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith is the new leader in the latest edition of the Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday.

Smith, a senior, captured eight of the 11 first-place votes from the weekly panel of Heisman voters, totalling 24 points. He replaced USC's Matt Barkley atop the survey after Stanford Cardinal 's upset of the Southern California Trojans this past weekend. Smith was second in each of the previous two polls. The Mountaineer quarterback has as many touchdowns (nine) as incompletions this season.

A record 14 players appeared on ballots, reflecting the suddenly wide-open nature of the race following Barkley's fall and the struggles of other preseason favorites like Montee Ball and Denard Robinson .

"The balloting has suddenly turned crazy," said one voter. "It may take a while for some players to gain separation."

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller made the biggest jump in the rankings, moving from a tie for eighth last week into second place with 10 points. Running back De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon Ducks was alone in third with eight points, and Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein was fourth with five points while picking up one of the remaining first-place votes.

Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor made his first appearance in the poll, garnering a first-place vote to tie with USC receiver Marqise Lee , who collected the other first-place vote.

Eight other players comprised the rest of the balloting, with five tied for seventh place and three tied for 11th.

Heading into its seventh season, the former Heismanpundit.com Heisman Straw Poll has been reborn as the HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country the last five seasons, with the final 2011 poll correctly picking the top seven finishers. It is made up of 11 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis (just like a real Heisman ballot) with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week's poll will be released on Tuesdays throughout the season at CBSSports.com and at HeismanPundit.com. Check out previous polls for this season here.

The HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll, 9-18-2012
Player, total points (first-place votes in parentheses)

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- 24 (8)

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State -- 10

3. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon -- 8

4. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State -- 5 (1)

5. (tie) Marqise Lee, WR, USC -- 3 (1)

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford -- 3 (1)

7. (tie) Johnathan Franklin , RB, UCLA Bruins  -- 2

Marcus Lattimore , RB, South Carolina Gamecocks  -- 2

Matt Barkley, QB, USC -- 2

Aaron Murray , QB, Georgia Bulldogs -- 2

Manti Te'o , LB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish -- 2

11. (tie) Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan Wolverines -- 1

Landry Jones , QB, Oklahoma Sooners -- 1

Chris Thompson , RB, Florida State Seminoles -- 1

About the Voting Panel

The 11 members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando SentinelTom Dienhart of The Big Ten NetworkMichael Lev of the Orange County RegisterBruce FeldmanDennis Dodd and Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.comDick Weiss of the New York Daily NewsLenn Robbins of the New York PostJenni Carlson of The Oklahoman and Dave Hackenberg of The Toledo BladeChris Huston, CBSSports.com Heisman analyst and publisher of HeismanPundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

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