USC quarterback Matt Barkley held off a surge from West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to once again top the Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll, a survey of Heisman voter sentiment released every Tuesday.
Barkley, the leader in the preseason edition of the straw poll, collected nine out of a possible 11 first-place votes and totaled 28 points after throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii on Saturday.
The gap between Barkley and his nearest challenger narrowed a bit this week, however, as Smith's five-touchdown performance against Marshall pushed him into second place with 17 points. Smith nearly tripled his point total since the preseason poll, when he was third with six points.
Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell made his first appearance in the survey, landing in third place on the heels of a 210-yard rushing game against Boise State, a feat that impressed some on the panel
"Boise State plays really tough, fundamentally sound defense but Le'Veon rung their bell," said one voter.
Other notable moves in this week's poll: Oregon sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas grabbed a first-place vote to finish fourth with five points and USC sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee captured the panel's final first-place vote to debut in sixth place with three points.
"The Marqise of USC might be the best player in the country at every position," a panelist noted.
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.
The HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll, 9-4-2012
Player, total points (first place votes in parentheses)
1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC -- 28 (9)
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- 17
3. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State -- 6
4. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon -- 5 (1)
6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC -- 3 (1)
About the Voting Panel
The 11 members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Tom Dienhart of The Big Ten Network, Michael Lev of the Orange County Register, Bruce Feldman, Dennis Dodd and Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com, Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News, Lenn Robbins of the New York Post, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman and Dave Hackenberg of The Toledo Blade. Chris Huston, CBSSports.com Heisman analyst and publisher of HeismanPundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.