As of now I believe that there are 5 potential Heisman candidates in the B1G. That could obviously change, but it should come as no surprise that all 5 are from the 4 teams that are still undefeated. By all accounts the B1G isn’t having a banner year, with only 4 teams still left undefeated (Big 12 has 8, SEC has 6), but the teams at the top of the B1G have some real staying power, and it is mostly due to these 5 candidates:
(In rank order)
1. Denard Robinson- I understand that Russell Wilson is having a year that the B1G hasn’t seen in some time, but he has three things working against him. He lacks the flash that Denard Robinson has, he isn’t as much of a national name as Robinson, and he doesn’t need to carry his team in order for them to win. But let’s forget Wilson in this segment because he will have his own. Robinson is Mr. Everything at Michigan. He has already had a defining moment this year that likely will unable to be topped by any competitor (Under the light against Notre Dame). Robinson averages 117 yards per game…on the ground! He has only been sacked once all season, even though he is under center now, which is unfamiliar territory. He is second in the B1G in total touchdowns with 8, and is without a doubt the current face of the B1G (Sorry JoePa, and Red Sweater guy(Oh wait, Red Sweater guy is the replay official for the Colts)). He is on pace for 32 total touch downs, and even though his passing accuracy is down this year, he is averaging 9.7 yards per attempt, a yard better than last year’s campaign. He is responsible for 73% of his team’s offensive output. Take Robinson away from Michigan and it is a near certainty that they would be under .500. One last thing, the Heisman comes down to wins, and unlike last year, this Wolverines’ squad has a defense. Coupling Robinson’s immense talent with a formidable defense, a 10 win campaign would nearly guarantee Robinson a spot as a Heisman Finalist.
2. Russell Wilson- This guy is absolutely special. When Wisconsin lost last year’s Johnny Unitas’ Golden Arm winner, Scott Tolzein, Madison didn’t think the sky was falling, but they couldn’t have expected Wisconsin’s backups to replicate his numbers. Then Russell Wilson transferred from the ACC and the Wisconsin faithful was still partially right; they didn’t have a guy who would replicate Tolzein’s numbers, they had a guy who blew them out of the water. Wilson averages 11 yards a run and 12 yards a pass! So every time he has his paws on the ball, the minimum expectation is that the chains will be moved. Last year Tolzein led the country in completion percentage, Wilson currently stands 5th as well as 2nd in passer rating (213.4). He has already amassed over 900 total yards, and has dismantled everything in his path. Unfortunately, he may split votes with his teammate Montae Ball.
3. Taylor Martinez- Welcome to the B1G Taylor Martinez. Enjoy the hits you are taking against middling defenses, because as of next week, your body may not be up to the task of running 20 times a game against Wisconsin. Up until this point, however, you have been fantastic. You lead B1G quarterbacks in rushing yards (384) and rushing touchdowns (6), which is no easy task. Tied for the lead with 9 total touchdowns is quite the feat as well. It also helps Martinez that he atoned for last year’s loss versus Steve Sarkisian’s Washington Huskies. Martinez is a working man’s quarterback. He is shifty, yet powerful. He has never had an off the field incident, and while he isn’t the most physically gifted player, he is an absolute gamer. He may also be leading the best team in the B1G which never hurts (for my money Wisconsin is the class of the B1G).
4. Montae Ball- Montae Ball is probably the least heralded player in the country. He has a special skill that few running backs have, which is that he can pick out a number, and that’s how many times he will score on a Saturday. He has a knack for the end zone that few do. He leads arguably the most potent running attack in all of college football alongside James White and Russell Wilson. He already has 7 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving. Last year he had 18 touchdowns, look for Ball to eclipse that number by at least 5 this season. He averages over 7 yards per touch this season. Also, besides maybe Denard Robinson (who likely won’t be playing his position in the pros) Ball is the top pro prospect on this Heisman list. He has the look of Beanie Wells to me, without the tip toeing. He is 5’11 210 pounds, and outside of maybe Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina, there is no one I would trust more to get a 1st down or tough yardage. He also has the skill set to bounce anything outside or juke/spin/embarrass any oncoming defenders. Like Wilson, he will be hurt because he will split votes.
5. Nathan Scheelhaase- Who the hell is Nathan Scheelhaase? Reasonable question if I ask so myself. I would also be willing to bet my life that he doesn’t win the Heisman. However, Scheelhaase is one helluva talent. He has made all of Illini nation forget about Juice Williams. Only a sophomore Scheelhaase is likely the reason that Ron Zook has a job. At this stage of his career he is a poor man’s Russell Wilson. Actually, I rescind my previous statement. He is an upper middle class Russell Wilson. He throws over 70%, averages 11 yards per attempt, has ran for nearly 200 yards, and has a 5:1 QB to turnover ratio. Scheelhaase is #6 in passer rating, and has already beaten a very tough team in Arizona State. Arizona State possibly has the #2 pick in next year’s draft in Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is a clone of Terrell Suggs, but Scheelhaase rose to the occasion, and evaded Burfict all night to send the Illini off with a victory. Scheelhaase may not be in the conversation this year, but next year he may be the topic of conversation.