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Monday, September 12, 2011
Big Ten Heisman watch: Week 3

By Brian Bennett

We've only played two weeks, and most of the Heisman Trophy campaigns are built in September and October. But it's never too early to see where we stand.

Will Seņor Stiffarm be coming to the Big Ten this year? Here's a look at how the league candidates stack up:

Serious contenders

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: You want a Heisman moment? Shoelace gave us about 10 of them Saturday against Notre Dame, and his fourth-quarter heroics will be remembered a long time. But will voters look past his three interceptions and his pedestrian passing numbers (54.1 completion percentage)? Maybe, if he keeps leading dramatic wins.

Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: I think it's safe to say now that Wilson is a contender. His season numbers (27-for-34 passing, 444 yards, 5 touchdowns, no interceptions) are terrific, and he's playing on a powerhouse team. Will the Badgers need him to throw enough so that he can put up big stats?

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Ball has separated himself slightly from backfield mate James White and is on pace for close to 1,100 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. He'd have to become the real bell cow to have a chance.

Sort-of contenders

Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Cousins is off to a terrific start (34-for-43, 405 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions), and the more exposure he gets, the more voters will love him. He's yet to really play anybody this year, and this week's Notre Dame game could give him some attention, though the Irish's 0-2 record does him no favors on that front.

Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: The sophomore has put together some highlight-reel runs, including the 46-yard, game-clinching touchdown against Fresno State on Saturday. He's leading the Big Ten in rushing by a wide margin and has five running scores. But he's also completing less than 50 percent of his passes, and that must improve for him to get serious traction.

Darkhorse

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois: Scheelhaase is barely on the national radar at this point, but he's off to a fantastic start. The sophomore has completed 71 percent of his passes, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has four total touchdowns to no interceptions. If he plays great against Arizona State on Saturday, people may begin to take notice.