Will Braxton Miller make it to New York? An early look at the 2014 Heisman Trophy favorites

The first season of a new era in college football is drawing closer. The playoff system, recently introduced due to popular demand, will be by far the biggest talking point, and probably the biggest point of controversy, in the 2014 season.

Ohio State's Braxton Miller #5 looks to pass in the first half against Penn State at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2013. The Buckeyes won 63-14. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Ohio State’s Braxton Miller #5 looks to pass in the first half against Penn State at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2013. The Buckeyes won 63-14. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

However, there are many other angles from which to approach the new college season, and one of the most intriguing is the early race for the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Sure, Florida State’s Jameis Winston pretty much had it in the bag from midseason onward last season, but this year looks like it could be an extremely tough one to predict, with the best betting sports minds paying close attention to recent form in order to predict their winners.

Heisman Trophy Winners – The Trends

Recent history has shown us that we should absolutely look towards the quarterback position, and that inexperience is no disadvantage. Johnny Manziel won the award back in 2012 having led Texas A&M as a redshirt freshman, with Jameis Winston doing so in 2013 – going so far as to lead the Seminoles to a National Championship title.

So who do we look to this season? It is, for obvious reasons, extremely difficult to predict which freshman could win the Heisman, but there any plenty of more experienced players who are at the head of every expert’s Heisman watch list.

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

Aside from Winston, Braxton Miller is one of the hottest candidates for the award. Having led the Buckeyes to a narrow Big Ten championship final loss, he will hope to go one better this season and land his team a playoff spot.

As a junior, Miller completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,094 with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 1,068 yards on 171 carries and 12 more scores.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Mariota’s decision to return to Oregon had a huge effect on the Ducks, with them believing they have the best quarterback in all of college football. Mariota is a candidate to be picked first overall in the NFL Draft next year, and also for the Heisman Trophy.

During his sophomore campaign, Mariota threw for 3,665 yards on 245-of-386 (63.5%) passing with 31 TD’s and four INT’s. He also gained 715 yards on the ground in 96 attempts with nine rushing touchdowns.

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Putting up almost impossible numbers with the Bears offense is Petty, whose sheer dominance of Big XII defenses could see him land the award.

Last season, Petty threw for 4,200 yards while completing 62.0 percent of his throws with 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions as a junior.

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

The first non-QB on the list, Gurley is an extremely talented back who, if he avoids injuries, should be the crown jewel in one of the best backfields in college football.

Even though he missed three games in 2013 with an ankle injury during his sophomore season, Gurley rushed for 989 yards on 165 attempts and 10 TD’s. He also caught 37 passes for 441 yards and six more scores.

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Hundley is a dual threat quarterback who is showing signs that he could become one of the best. If he can get the Bruins through a tough Pac 12 schedule, he could well end up top of the list.

As a sophomore last year, Hundley completed 67.2 percent of his throws for 3,071 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. As another running quarterback on the Heisman list, Hundley toted the rock 160 times for 748 yards and 11 rushing TD’s.