Heisman Trophy watch

The front-runner

Joe College, You pick the school: We should let the season play out awhile before slapping that front-runner status on anyone. Remember, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston were relatively obscure entering their Heisman-winning seasons. That said …

Keep an eye on

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: He'll share the stage with his quarterback on Monday night at Virginia Tech. But it's tough to forget how he dominated Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon to the tune of 696 rushing yards on the way to leading the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title.

J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State: One of these guys will start — and put up huge numbers this season.

Trevone Boykin, TCU: Last year's fourth-place finisher was held to one TD pass and one TD run by the Gophers.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Not huge numbers — 16 carries, 12 yards and two TDs — but effective vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

Seth Russell, QB, Baylor: He passed for 376 yards and five TDs vs. SMU, and given the Bears' defense, he'll need to keep slinging it.

This week's best bets

No. 19 Oklahoma at No. 25 Tennessee: The Sooners handed the Vols a 34-10 drubbing last year, but that game was in Norman. Tennessee hit its stride late last year, winning four of its last five. With this game in Knoxville, expect a much closer game if not an upset.

No. 11 Notre Dame at Virginia: The Fighting Irish are quasi-members of the ACC, and this is the first of six games this season in their new arrangement. The schedule-makers did the Cavaliers no favors. UVa opened the season at UCLA.

No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State: How brutally tough is the SEC West? The Bulldogs, who were in the national title mix midway through last season and return a hotshot QB in Dak Prescott, are picked by most to either finish last or next-to-last in the West. Still, this could be a tricky trip for LSU, which has Auburn on the agenda the following week

East Carolina at Florida: The Gators are rebuilding under new coach Jim McElwain, who figures to return offense to Gainesville. The Pirates like to throw the ball around, too, so expect some fireworks, if not mistakes, from both teams.