Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Big Ten Heisman watch: Week 6
By Brian Bennett
Let us now have a small moment of silence for Le'Veon Bell's 2012 Heisman Trophy campaign.
The campaign was born on Aug. 31 (when Bell ran for 210 yards and had 55 receiving yards against Boise State), fell ill on Sept. 15 (just 77 rushing yards in a loss to Notre Dame), was resuscitated on Sept. 22 (253 rushing yards versus Eastern Michigan) and finally expired just five weeks after birth, when Bell was held to 45 yards on 17 carries in a loss to Ohio State. All we are is dust in the wind.
Bell's Heisman run died along the same lines as those of Michigan's Denard Robinson and Wisconsin's Montee Ball. And as we enter Week 6 of the season, there's only one serious candidacy alive in the Big Ten: that of Ohio State's Braxton Miller.
Miller was far from perfect in the 17-16 win over Michigan State. He threw an interception and lost two fumbles. But he also showed a whole lot of toughness in repeatedly bouncing back from big-time hits. And as per usual, he carried the Buckeyes' offense by running for 136 yards and throwing for 179, including the 63-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith. With Ohio State undefeated, he'll remain in the race, and he gets another spotlight moment this weekend in a night game against Nebraska.
Speaking of those Cornhuskers, quarterback Taylor Martinez remains on the Heisman radar, if on the periphery. He led a comeback from a 27-10 deficit against Wisconsin in the second half last week, running for 107 yards and a score and throwing for 181 and two touchdowns. A big performance and a win at Ohio State could get Martinez squarely in the mix next week.
Looking for a long, long shot in the Heisman race? How about Northwestern's Kain Colter? He doesn't have the season numbers just yet, but he is pulling rare triple duty as a quarterback, runner and receiver for the still-undefeated Wildcats. If he has some more games like he did against Indiana (161 rushing yards, four touchdowns, nine catches for 131 yards) and Northwestern keeps winning, maybe he can open some eyes. Like we said, it's a long, long shot. But at least his candidacy has yet to expire.
My ESPN.com Heisman Watch ballot for this week:
1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
5. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State