Sean Merriman, web editor, staff, August 22, 2013

Who says that reining Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel should automatically earn the right to be the Heisman favorite heading into the 2013 college football season?

Not the Sporting News.

Ken Bradley of recently released his 2013 Heisman Watch list, which featured Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the top spot.

"If votes were handed in today, Miller would win," Bradley said of OSU's talented duel-threat quarterback. "As long as the Buckeyes remain in the national title hunt-and if Miller improves his passing efficiency-he?ll remain at the forefront of the discussion."

Manziel came in at No. 3 on the list, as the former Heisman winner was jumped by both Miller and Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd. Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron rounded out the top five. Miller was the only Big Ten player to appear on the list.

Both ESPN and USAToday released their Heisman Watch lists earlier this year, and both have Miller slotted in at the No. 2 spot.

Here is a look at ESPN's Top Five:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

4. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

[ Complete Heisman Watch List]

My thoughts: Could Clowney really become the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy since Michigan's Charles Woodson was honored with the prestigious award back in 1997? Don't get me wrong, Clowney is an absolute freak of nature out on the football field, but it's tough for me to envision a defensive lineman winning this award, especially with such a loaded quarterback class this season. The biggest surprise here on this list has to be Mariota. I think this kid has a ton of talent, but I question whether he should be listed above the likes of Boyd, Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and Marquise Lee (USC).

Here is a look at USA Today's Top Five:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

3. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

4. Marquise Lee, WR, USC

5. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

[ Complete Heisman Watch List]

My thoughts: It's interesting to see how much this list differs from both ESPN and the Sporting News. Manziel and Miller appear to be staples on top of just about everyone's list, but Jordan Lynch is a new name that I haven't seen on too many Heisman Watch boards. He led Northern Illinois to a BCS Bowl Game last season, which is remarkable in itself, but is he really worthy of being on this list above other top-tier quarterback like McCarron, Boyd and Bridgewater? I love an underdog story, but this one may be a bit of a stretch.

All this early Heisman talk got me thinking that it's about time I release my preseason Heisman favorites as well. Keep in mind that I am basing this list on who I believe are the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, not necessarily who I believe should rightfully win the award. With that said, here you go…

1. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: He's the offensive leader of the best team in college football, and he's only going to continue getting better.

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: It's scary to think how good Miller might be in his second year under Urban Meyer.

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: I'm not even convinced Manziel will play this season with all the trouble he has gotten himself into. But if he does, it's near impossible to leave him off this list.

4. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Did anyone else see how this kid picked apart Florida's defense in last season's Allstate Sugar Bowl?

5. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: He has gotten consistently better every season and is surrounded by a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball. That should lead to a monster senior season for Martinez.

About Sean Merriman web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men's basketball and provides original content for You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.