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.

Passing Rushing
Date Opp Cmp Att Yds Pct TDs Int Long Car Yds Avg TDs Long
9/1/2012 Mia-O 14 24 207 58.3 2 0 44 17 161 9.5 1 65
9/8/2012 UCF 18 24 155 75.0 1 1 15 27 141 5.2 3 37
9/15/2012 Cal 16 30 249 53.3 4 1 72 12 75 6.3 1 55
9/22/2012 UAB 12 20 143 60.0 0 0 25 11 64 5.8 2 19
9/29/2012 @ MSU 16 23 179 69.6 1 1 63 23 136 5.9 0 20
10/6/2012 Neb 7 14 127 50.0 1 0 35 16 186 11.6 1 72
10/13/2012 @ Ind 13 24 211 54.2 2 1 60 23 149 6.5 1 67
10/20/2012 Purdue 9 20 113 45.0 0 1 35 12 47 3.9 1 37
10/27/2012 @ PSU 7 19 143 36.8 1 1 72 25 134 5.4 2 33
11/3/2012 Ill 12 20 226 60.0 2 0 51 18 73 4.1 1 14

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.

Passing Rushing
Date Opp Cmp Att Yds Pct TDs Int Long Car Yds Avg TDs Long
9/1/2012 SouMis 26 34 354 76.5 5 0 36 6 10 1.7 0 10
9/8/2012 @ UCLA 17 31 179 54.8 0 1 36 13 112 8.6 1 92
9/15/2012 ArkSt 13 14 180 92.9 2 0 42 11 54 4.9 1 27
9/22/2012 IdaSt 9 13 165 69.2 2 0 68 7 15 2.1 0 11
9/29/2012 Wisc 17 29 181 58.6 2 0 27 13 107 8.2 1 38
10/6/2012 @ OhioSt 15 25 214 60.0 1 3 74 18 40 2.2 2 20
10/20/2012 @ NW 27 39 342 69.2 3 0 37 18 65 3.6 1 15
10/27/2012 Mich 14 24 166 58.3 1 1 32 14 58 4.1 0 29
11/3/2012 @ MSU 16 36 160 44.4 2 3 38 17 205 12.1 2 71

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?

Rushing Receiving
Date Opp Car Yds Avg TDs Long Rec Yds Avg TDs Long
9/1/2012 @ Syr 14 82 5.9 0 32 2 16 8.0 1 21
9/8/2012 Vandy 24 123 5.1 1 11 1 14 14.0 0 14
9/15/2012 BC 18 77 4.3 0 8 7 42 6.0 0 9
9/22/2012 SouDak 16 117 7.3 3 47 1 3 3.0 0 3
9/29/2012 Ind 29 139 4.8 1 33 2 8 4.0 0 6
10/6/2012 @ PSU 13 72 5.5 1 14 2 6 3.0 0 4
10/13/2012 @ Minn 20 182 9.1 2 48 0 0 - 0 -
10/20/2012 Neb 16 118 7.4 1 80 0 0 - 0 -
10/27/2012 Iowa 16 162 10.1 0 72 2 11 5.5 0 10
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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