Landry Jones is Heisman favorite

The Predictor has OU's Landry Jones as the No. 1 Heisman favorite entering the season. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Cam Newton ran away with the Heisman last year, but 2011 figures to be a hotly contested campaign.

The ESPN experts' poll has identified six favorites who appeared on at least three ballots. Using the Heisman Predictor as a reference, here's where the favorites -- and a few dark horses -- stand entering the year and what they will need to do to hoist the trophy in December.

The favorites

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma Sooners

Starting Value: 80.0 Predictor Points
Key stats needed to win: 35 TDs, BCS bowl berth, 15 Predictor Points vs. top-10 teams

The Predictor recognizes that voters favor certain positions (quarterbacks) and certain conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, SEC), which gives Jones a slight edge in the preseason rankings.

His narrow 2.5-point lead over Andrew Luck, however, will not last long if he can't navigate Oklahoma through a tough schedule.

The key to Jones' candidacy will be his success in big games. The Sooners are set to face three teams ranked in the AP preseason top 10 (Florida State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State), which will give Jones a chance to shine on the biggest stage throughout the course of the season.

Assuming each of those games is a matchup of top-10 teams, Jones could earn up to 15 Predictor Points. These potential performance-based points -- which, obviously, are not available to every candidate -- give Jones a decided advantage over his closest competitors. Andrew Luck, for example, has only one preseason top-10 team on his schedule (Oregon).