Heisman watch: Miller can't bolster case this week
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein remains the Heisman front-runner, but his future may be murky after he got hurt last week. If Klein misses time or is ineffective, that would open opportunities for Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and others like Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, among others, to climb the Heisman ladder.
Miller won’t have a chance to improve his resume this Saturday. Ohio State is off. But other Big Ten players could improve their stock in big games. Here is my look at the top three Heisman contenders from the Big Ten, which hasn’t produced a winner since Ohio State’s Troy Smith took the honor in 2006.
By the way: Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin could climb onto this list with big game in a win at Nebraska this week.
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. He enjoyed a typical “Braxton Miller type game” last week in a 52-22 win over Illinois. In fact, it was one of his better performances of the season. The sophomore connected on 12-of-20 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 18 times for 73 yards and a touchdown, as the Buckeyes moved to 10-0. Miller is No. 4 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, hitting 56 percent of his attempts for 1,753 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also is No. 4 in the conference in rushing (116.6 ypg), carrying 184 times for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns. Miller will have two more chances to impress voters in big-time games, playing at Wisconsin and vs. Michigan to finish the season.
2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska. He may be the conference’s hottest player, leading the Huskers to three big Legends triumphs in a row to take control of the division. Enhancing that feat is the fact Martinez led Nebraska from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to victory at Northwestern and from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to win at Michigan State. He sandwiched those two victories with a home triumph over Michigan. During the three-game run, Martinez has completed 57-of-99 passes (57 percent) for 668 yards with six touchdowns and four picks, while running 49 times for 328 yards (6.7 ypc) and three scores. Martinez has a chance to add to his dossier with a big game over visiting Penn State this Saturday. Martinez is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,941 yards with a Big Ten-best 18 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. The junior is No. 10 in the Big Ten in rushing (74.0 ypg), running 117 times for 666 yards and eight touchdowns.
3. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern. He is one of the Big Ten’s most exciting players, ranking No. 2 in the conference in rushing (119.7 ypg) with 1,077 yards on 166 carries with nine touchdowns. Mark is Northwestern’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006. He also has caught 17 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown and has run back two punts for touchdowns. Mark is an electric player whose Heisman stock within the Big Ten will rise with a big performance in a win at Michigan this Saturday. Will it happen?
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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