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Why is this news?: Ezekiel Elliott the preseason Heisman front-runner

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All the big Ohio State news, in one helpful place.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

"If the last three games are the benchmark, [Ezekiel Elliott] will be the odds-on favorite entering 2015."

-Mike Herndon, AL.com

The Heisman race for next season is already in full swing, with a number of contenders looking to take home college football's most coveted trophy. Spoiler alert: Ohio State has three different quarterbacks capable of bringing home the hardware. But it's running back Ezekiel Elliott, who only seemed to get stronger and more ruthless as the competition got tougher this season, who leads the pack of preseason favorites.

Elliott rushed for almost 700 yards in the last three games of the season, tallying eight touchdowns, including four in the National Championship Game alone. Zeke was overlooked for much of the year as a powerhouse back, playing in a Big Ten that featured world-destroyers like Melvin Gordon, David Cobb, and Tevin Coleman. But if he keeps that pace up, there's practically zero chance we see him left off the podium next season, nor will we see him play a fourth year in Columbus.

Some of the other preseason favorites to win the trophy include TCU's Trevone Boykin, Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, Georgia's Nick Chubb, and LSU's Leonard Fournette. For most of the recent past, this award hsa been the quarterbacks' to lose, but with such a talented crop of running backs taking the field in 2015, don't be surprised to see that change.

"Miller, a rising redshirt senior, is the only member of the group who can transfer in 2015 without having to sit out a season. Now, more than ever, he has to find a new home."

-Brian Leigh, Bleacher Report

Cardale Jones' Thursday announcement obviously makes for a much stiffer quarterback competition in Columbus this summer. Urban Meyer will be under more pressure than ever to make the right call as far as the starting job is concerned. And now, with a championship-winning QB and a 2014 Heisman candidate QB both returning, there is a movement calling for Braxton Miller to transfer.

The speculation about the 2013 Big Ten POY leaving Ohio State is not new, and it won't go away until he makes a decision one way or another. Rumors about his possible commitments to Oregon, Florida State, and LSU have been floating around for awhile now, though some of that is more than likely overblown. And it's still a good possibility that Braxton stays at Ohio State--it's certainly not out of the question for him to change positions and get worked into the offense as an H-back, nor does Cardale's championship and Barrett's consistency mean that Braxton won't come back strong enough to win the starting spot.

I'm not sure that Braxton really needs to find a new home, although it's certainly a possibility. This will not be anywhere close to the last word on the subject, so stay tuned for more Braxton buzz in the coming weeks.

"It's not like it was 10 years ago, when a quarterback could come into this league that didn't have a lot of college experience and play well."

-Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys player personnel director

One NFL insider thinks Cardale Jones made the right decision by opting to stay in school another year before entering the league. He makes a very valid point, too: it would be asking an awful lot of a young quarterback to master an NFL playbook with just three starts at quarterback at the college level. While Cardale Jones' development has been exponential and his on-field play tremendous, there's a big leap up from reading college defenses in a relatively simple attack to mastering the ins and outs of an NFL offense. "What's happening now is the defenses are, like, taking graduate courses at MIT," Brandt said, highlighting the difference.

Of course, Jones seamlessly making the leap would probably not even be a surprise at this point, given all he's accomplished of late. He certainly has the physical tools to succeed, between his arm and his size. The question becomes whether or not he can develop as a quarterback to the level that NFL teams (and talking heads) are looking for. Urban Meyer, for one, doesn't think it's too late for that to happen. "Some guys change when they're 50 years old...other guys change when they're going through the journey like we all did...very proud of him," Meyer said of Jones.

"The Buckeye band's famous acronym TBDBITL could include a new definition: The Best Damn Brand In The Land."

-Matt Wilson, COO and GM of SBC Advertising

The Buckeye brand is now valued at over $1 billion, according to a recent study. Helping to bolster that are the sales of Buckeye products that have been lighting up the internet since just before the National Championship Game, which have "gone through the roof," according to the Dispatch.

Fanatics.com, a major online retailer selling Ohio State gear, reported that it had sales from all 50 states within 12 hours of the Buckeyes' victory over Oregon. The scope of Ohio State fanhood is not limited to Ohio or even the Midwest, as top-selling states for OSU gear include Florida, Texas, California, and Georgia. The top markets for championship-specific gear are Atlanta, Chicago, NYC, DC, and Tampa.

What helps drive these sales? "One of the main things is that Ohio State has certain rituals," said Doug McIntyre, CEO of Cult Marketing. "Everywhere we went, someone was saying O-H-I-O, everyone was wearing the colors...Oregon didn't have the depth of rituals." It's clear that the Buckeye brand runs deep with people, just as much as the team or the school do.


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