Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Big Ten Heisman Watch: Week 4
By Brian Bennett
The first quarter of the season is over. Which player will be left standing in the Heisman Trophy race when the fourth quarter ends? And will it be anyone from the Big Ten.
The league still has a few contenders, though Michigan State's Kirk Cousins dropped off the board this week with his team's loss to Notre Dame. Here's how I would rank the league's Heisman hopefuls, in order:
1. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: I had Wilson fifth on my ESPN.com Heisman ballot this week. He's been outstanding, with a 75.1 completion percentage and an 8-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, with that INT coming on his last throw against Northern Illinois in a meaningless situation. What Wilson needs is a Heisman moment against top-notch competition, which he'll get a chance to do Oct. 1 against Nebraska.
2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: Martinez had his best game of the season against Washington, not because he had a ton of big plays but because he managed the offense so well. His completion percentage (48.4) is still too low, but he's got six rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns. The Oct. 1 game in Madison could be a Heisman eliminator.
3. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: Robinson continues to thrive, and the Wolverines wisely haven't tried to change him too much. He ran for 198 yards against Eastern Michigan and is on pace for more than 1,400 rushing yards in the regular season. That would be down from last season, though, and he, too, suffers in some of the passing numbers (49.1 percent completion).
4. Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois: A real darkhorse still in this race, Scheelhaase didn't have spectacular numbers against Arizona State. But he's having a strong season (71.7 percent on completions, five total touchdowns) and will get more notice if the Illini keep winning.
5. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Ball is a touchdown machine, with eight already through three games. But he has only eclipsed 100 yards rushing one time and has to share carries with James White (not to mention the spotlight with Wilson).