The college football season is in full swing and the buzz is already growing on several players who could be Heisman Trophy candidates.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Buzz: The senior got off to an impressive start when he hooked up with Marqise Lee for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the season opener. Barkley finished with 372 yards and four touchdowns – three of them in the first half – as USC ripped Hawaii 49-10. He faces a bigger challenge Saturday against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Last season against the Orange, Barkley tossed a school-record five touchdowns during a 38-17 rout.

Up next: Saturday vs. Syracuse

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

Buzz: Once again, Ball was a workhorse for the Badgers during their season-opener against Northern Iowa. The senior carried the ball 32 times for 120 yards and a touchdown during Wisconsin’s 26-21 victory. It was Ball’s seventh straight game with more than 100 yards rushing and it was his 21st consecutive contest with a touchdown. This week he will be facing an Oregon State team that ranked next to last in rushing defense in the Pac-12 last season.

Up next: Saturday at Oregon State

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Buzz: Smith picked up right where he left off last season, going 32-of-36 for 323 yards and four touchdowns during West Virginia’s 69-34 blowout of Marshall. It was the second consecutive game the Mountaineers have put up more than 60 points. (West Virginia defeated Clemson in the Orange Bowl, 70-33). During that stretch, Smith is 64-of-79 for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns. He gets a week off before facing FCS opponent James Madison.

Up next: Sept. 15 vs. James Madison

De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

Buzz: More of an all-purpose college player, Thomas showcased all of his talents during Oregon’s 57-34 win over Arkansas State in the opener. The sophomore found the end zone three times – one rushing, two receiving – on only eight touches. He accumulated 125 all-purpose yards – 64 rushing, 55 receiving and  six punt returns – during the first half before sitting for the rest of the game. Fresno State has the 22nd best rushing defense in the nation and could provide a better challenge for Thomas and the Ducks.

Up next: Saturday vs. Fresno State

Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

Buzz: The junior had career-highs for rushing yards (210) and carries (44) while adding two touchdowns to power the Spartans past then-No. 24 Boise State, 17-14. You know you are having a great day when you outgain the entire opposing team. That’s what Bell did with his career-best 265 all-purpose yards, which was more than the Broncos entire offensive output (206) for the game.

Up next: Saturday at Central Michigan 

 

E-mail Matt at mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.