Remember the lullaby afternoons of September, when we all figured we'd see a Heisman winner who merited the award? Maybe a Geno Smith, slinging the ball all over the yard, or even a Matt Barkley, who despite being named after Big Bird's dog had the right pedigree and weaponry (Robert Woods and Marquise Lee catching his passes). Maybe it would be a pure quantity guy like Montee Ball, whose junior year at Wisconsin saw him tie the FBS record for touchdowns in a season (Barry Sanders; 39) and lead the nation in rushing yards (1,923) and still place just fourth in the Heisman voting. This award is usually a son of a bitch to win.
But here's what happened. Barkley started in four USC losses, throwing a pair of interceptions in each. Wisconsin lost five games, only one of which saw Ball rush above his season average. Marcus Lattimore's knee supernovaed. Kenjon Barner disappeared in Oregon's season-breaking loss to Stanford. West Virginia's defense turned out to be the worst since "he ran into my knife ten times," rendering Smith's 4,004 yards and 40 touchdowns hollow even as he faded down the stretch.