|Matt Barkley will have plenty of marquee games to impress voters. (U.S. Presswire)|
Barkley is a fourth-year starting quarterback for a traditional Heisman power that also happens to be a prime national title contender. He's coming off a junior season where he threw a Pac-12-record 39 touchdown passes on his way to a sixth-place finish in the Heisman tally. He has extraordinary name recognition and is clearly set to be one of the faces of college football in 2012.
The current narrative surrounding his candidacy is that he turned down the NFL to help complete the revitalization of a program hit hard by NCAA sanctions. USC is launching an innovative campaign on his behalf and marquee games against Oregon, Stanford and Notre Dame will help him to stake his claim with the Heisman electorate. He's got the best receiving corps in college football to catch his passes, so he should put up huge numbers.
He'll need to manage the pressure of being the front-runner and the expectations that go with it, and USC will have to make sure voters don't take him for granted the way they did Andrew Luck last year. Like Luck, he may lack in the excitement category, but the significance of the Trojans putting forth a viable candidate so soon after the Heisman Trust vacated Reggie Bush's award won't be lost on many voters.
Barkley is the clear front-runner for the Heisman, but he is by no means a lock to win.
Check out more coverage from Chris Huston on the Heisman Watch page