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Final Big Ten Heisman watch

12/6/2011

Well, we know Montee Ball won't get totally snubbed.

The Wisconsin junior running back is heading to New York City as one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy, which will be handed out on Saturday night. Ball's campaign gained a lot of steam in the last few weeks as voters noticed just how insane his touchdown totals were becoming.

Ball has 38 touchdowns, one shy of the FBS single-season record set by Barry Sanders in 1988. For a while in the Big Ten championship game, it looked like Ball would make a statement that no one could deny.

He had 105 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone versus Michigan State. However, Wisconsin's running game really slowed down against the Spartans' defense, and Ball would finish with just 32 more yards the rest of the game. Still, he scored the game-winning touchdown on a seven-yard shovel pass from Russell Wilson with 3:45 left.

Ball ranks fourth nationally in rushing yards per game, but because of the extra game he has more total rushing yards (1,759) than anybody in the country. He needs just two touchdowns -- less than his per-game average this year -- in the Rose Bowl against Oregon to finish with 40 and break the all-time record.

While Ball isn't favored to take the famous statue home on Saturday, he is totally deserving of being in New York as the first Big Ten finalist since Ohio State's Troy Smith in 2006. I had Ball No. 2 on my final Heisman ballot for ESPN.com, behind Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

We'll examine the case for Ball winning the trophy later this week.