Thursday, August 7, 2014
Who could have a season for the ages?
By Brian Bennett
This week, ESPN unveiled The Season project, looking at the greatest individual seasons in college football history and the best seasons ever put up at each FBS school.
As Adam pointed out on Monday, there seems to be a bit of recency bias at play, as many of the Big Ten's top seasons happened long ago. The two most recent selections came in 2000, with Purdue (Drew Brees) and Northwestern (Damien Anderson).
But there are some star players at Big Ten schools right now who might just put up the greatest season ever at their school. Let's look at some of the candidates to join the list the next time ESPN does The Season project in, like, oh, another 50 years:
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: Can Miller eclipse two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin? Possibly. He's already won Big Ten offensive player of the year honors twice and could turn in a big finish to his career. A Heisman and a national title would certainly help his cause.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: He already has some stiff competition at his own position in Badgers lore, as Ron Dayne edged out Montee Ball for the best Wisconsin season. Yet Gordon has the ability to rush for 2,000 yards and loads of big plays this season, which figures to be his last in Madison. He's a Heisman Trophy contender.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska: It would be hard for Abdullah or anyone to edge out Mike Rozier. But Abdullah, who led the Big Ten in rushing yards last season, is capable of a monster senior season, and he's already beloved for his leadership.
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska: Gregory led the Big Ten in sacks with 10.5 in his first year in the FBS. He could have an Ndamukong Suh-like impact this year if everything breaks right.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State: Picture this: Hackenberg throwing for 4,000 yards and leading the Nittany Lions back to Big Ten and postseason glory. It's probably more likely to happen in 2015 or 2016 than this year, but Hackenberg has a great chance to go down as the best quarterback in Penn State history.
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State: Imagine Calhoun using his nose for the ball to score multiple defensive touchdowns and create key turnovers all season en route to a College Football Playoff appearance. Kill, Shilique, kill?
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland: The Terps' rather modest history means the bar is not too high for a "greatest season ever" year. Diggs could be the nation's top receiver if he stays healthy and continues to improve. Watch out, Randy White.
Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: He's probably not going to edge out Nile Kinnick, but Kirk Ferentz says Scherff has the chance to go down as an all-time great for the Hawkeyes. Let's not forget to give offensive linemen some love.