By Tyler Fenwick @Ty_Fenwick on June 11, 2014
Nothing gets the conversation going quite like talking about Heisman contenders and pretenders. Today, we're focusing on the contenders, the guys who really might have a shot at this thing. One player you won't see on this list is Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, who, in my honest opinion, is not ready to be in the same list as the guys I'm going through. So enjoy. Here are the Big 10's five best chances at a Heisman Trophy this season.
I think Jeremy Langford is severely underappreciated and underestimated. During a stretch from Oct. 12 to Dec. 7 Langford put together a stretch of eight consecutive games with 100+ rushing yards. In back-to-back games against Nebraska and Northwestern he rushed for a combined 301 yards. We're talking about an explosive, physical playmaker who is probably going to up his 1,422-yard performance a season ago.
I know, you don't agree. But hear me out. Gardner's 2013 performance was largely drowned out by an underachieving team. En route to a 7-6 finish, Gardner tossed for 2,960 yards, which ranks No. 2 for a Michigan quarterback in a single season. Nearly 1,000 of those yards came in two games against Indiana and Ohio State. If he cuts back on the turnovers and receives better protection from his offensive line, Gardner is a Heisman contender.
When it comes to running backs in the Big 10, you can't leave out Ameer Abdullah. To go along with the superb hair, Abdullah has been such a vital part of the Cornhuskers' offense the last few seasons. In 13 games last year, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry and ended up with over 1,600 yards on the season. I still think Abdullah is in that second tier of guys hoping to make it to New York, but his name should definitely be in the conversation.
Braxton Miller has been a contender for this year's Heisman Trophy since the moment he decided to return to Ohio State for his senior season. As one of the most explosive and versatile quarterbacks in the country, it's difficult to imagine he will be easily dismissed at the end of this season.
I don't think Melvin Gordon's name is extremely popular across the country; just give him a few games and that should change. I emphasize this every time I talk about the expectations for Gordon's season: He won't be sharing the backfield again this year. Last season, him and James White rightfully shared reps. This season, nope -- Gordon is going to be a lone warrior in that backfield, and pure damage will be inflicted.
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