Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III may not have been at the top of many preseason Heisman Trophy watch lists a season ago, but that didn’t stop one of the Big 12’s most explosive playmakers from taking home the hardware in 2011. Can another Big 12 player repeat the feat this year?

Between his list of “favorites” and “dark horses,”’s Heisman expert Chris  Huston identified six Big 12 players who could potentially put themselves in the running for the top honor in college football.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: After three seasons in Norman, he has plenty of name recognition nationally. He’s the quarterback of the preseason Big 12 favorites and has averaged better than 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns per year throughout his career. Marquee games against Notre Dame, TCU, Texas and West Virginia will give voters plenty of chances to see Jones in action.
  • Why he might not win: One reason Jones was not the Big 12’s preseason offensive player of the year (Geno Smith of WVU took that honor instead) was his problems turning the ball over toward the end of last season. Jones threw 15 picks, including six (against only one touchdown toss) in OU’s final four games of 2011. And other players across the country -- Smith included -- have an excellent chance to put up better numbers.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: Simply put, he should put up video game numbers this season (barring injury, of course). Smith threw for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with only seven interceptions last season, his first leading coach Dana Holgorsen’s spread offense. Most of the key contributors on that offense are back, both at the skill positions and along the offensive line. West Virginia is an eastern school but will play several games in the southwest, giving Smith the chance to garner the “local” vote in two regions of the country. Big 12 competition will give an air of legitimacy to his statistical accomplishments that might not have existed if the Mountaineers were still in the Big East.
  • Why he might not win: The Big 12 is a tough league, and if WVU loses games and falls out of the Big 12 title hunt, Smith’s candidacy for the Heisman will end as well. The quarterback could lose some votes to one of his teammates, as receiver Tavon Austin is a household name as well. A poor performance in one of the team’s marquee games -- at Texas or against Oklahoma in Morgantown -- would also serve to lessen support for Smith.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: He just wins games for his team, throwing for almost 2,000 yards and adding another 1,100 rushing yards in 2011. Put together the aerial and ground numbers, and Klein was responsible for 40 touchdowns. He has name recognition, but has flown a bit below the radar thanks to all the attention being heaped upon others at his position in the Big 12.
  • Why he might not win: Kansas State may not win enough games. The Wildcats were picked to finish sixth in the Big 12, evidence that few expect another season like 2011 in Manhattan. Beyond that, Klein’s passing statistics will almost surely pale in comparison to those of other Heisman hopefuls at quarterback -- USC’s Matt Barkley, OU’s Jones and WVU’s Smith among them.

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: The Cowboys’ offense may rely a bit more on the run than it did last season, as both Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are in the NFL now. Randle still put up impressive numbers a year ago, running for more than 1,200 yards and scoring 26 touchdowns. OSU showed it could display a running back as a prominent part of its spread offense when Kendall Hunter ran for more than 1,500 yards on the way to first-team All-American status in 2010.
  • Why he might not win: Oklahoma State is starting a true freshman at quarterback, Wes Lunt, meaning opposing defenses may be more free than usual to key on the run. The Cowboys may struggle to win enough games to be in the Big 12 title hunt late in the season, and even if Randle puts up big numbers, that could kill his candidacy.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: There are few players anywhere that are the sort of all-around threat Austin is. He will make plays as a receiver, a ball-carrier, a kick returner and a punt returner. He should put up gaudy numbers in multiple phases of play as the Mountaineers enter their second year working with Holgorsen’s offensive schemes.
  • Why he might not win: He has two significant disadvantages -- playing at a position where he won’t touch the ball every snap and being a member of the same team as Geno Smith. How much of Austin’s statistical success this season will likely be credited to Smith at quarterback and Holgorsen’s wide-open system?

Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma

  • Why he has a chance to win the Heisman: Bell is to Sooner starting quarterback Landry Jones as Florida’s Tim Tebow once was to Chris Leak -- a unique, change-of-pace option who comes in near the goal line and scores touchdowns. The “Bell-dozer” nickname makes him one of the country’s most well-known backup quarterbacks as is. Plus, he is effective, rushing for 13 scores a year ago. If Jones would happen to get hurt and Bell came in and led OU to a Big 12 championship, don’t completely rule it out.
  • Why he might not win: There is the whole matter of Bell not being the starting quarterback at OU, which could weigh heavily on the minds of voters. Those who could look past that might still see Bell as a one-trick pony unworthy of serious consideration for college football’s top honor.

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter.