One of the entertaining parts about sports is forecasting and projecting how well a player or team will do in an upcoming season.
The weeks leading to the start of college football are littered with predictions of conference winners, Heisman favorites, and award watch list nominees.
No other sport changes as much from week to week and day-to-day that football does, which is why many of the preseason projections and predictions fall flat when reviewing them in January.
One needs to look no further than the recent Heisman trophy winners and the winner that left the Downtown Athletic Club in New York with one of sport’s most coveted trophies has emerged from obscurity.
Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford were relative unknowns before their Heisman winning campaign.
The preseason favorites burdened with their lofty expectations often fall to the wayside to the excitement stirred by the players who have risen from the shadows to college football stardom.
The Big 10 features two candidates to join the likes of Troy Smith, Charles Woodson, Ron Dayne, and Desmond Howard as recent Heisman winners from the conference.
Montee Ball and Denard Robinson represent elite talent at the running back and quarterback position, respectively after having been named to the Maxwell award watch list in July. However, neither is a sure thing to be invited to the ceremony in New York this winter for the aforementioned reasons.
Through no fault of their own the voters on this award seem to get bored with the known quantities and disregard the known quantity for the unexpected.
Ball was a finalist last year after threatening Barry Sanders single season touchdown record and returns to a strong Wisconsin team, but if he could not win in a season in which he scored a whopping 40 touchdowns, what more can he possibly do?
Robinson has been on Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus for what seems like forever and has dazzled fans with his rushing ability. His 2,878 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns the last two seasons is more than many top running backs in the nation, but could not even elicit an invite to the Heisman ceremony.
This will change this season for Robinson who begins the year with a nationally televised matchup vs. the reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide on September 1st.
Robinson will have the eyes of the nation on him that night and can make a statement if his 8th ranked Wolverines can pull off the upset.
In what would be a bold move, perhaps Robinson will emulate former Wolverine Howard and strike the Heisman pose after another one of his patented breathtaking runs en route to pay dirt and lay claim to the early Heisman standings.
The real fun will be watching who will be on his heels the duration of the season.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.