Russell Wilson can vault to top of Heisman lists tonight
Russell Wilson is not unknown to Heisman voters. Three (I, II, III) of the major “Heisman Watch” lists have him in, or around, the top five.
That’s probably a good spot for the Wisconsin quarterback, who has been great early on, but against suspect competition.
Through four games, Wilson — who spent his first three seasons at NC State before taking advantage of the NCAA’s graduate-level transfer rule — has completed 75.8% of his passes for 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns, while throwing just one interception. He’s leading a Wisconsin offense that’s sixth in the nation scoring 48.5 points per game, and he’s done this while the Badgers have taken their foot off the gas pedal late in games thanks to huge leads.
Tonight, Wilson and Wisconsin play Nebraska in their Big Ten opener, and with a great performance, Wilson could find himself near, if not at the top of those lists. Nebraska is a big-time, storied program that has long been known for its defensive prowess. Even if the Huskers finish the season around where they are in scoring defense (46th at 22 points per game), putting up big numbers against them is going to cause voters’ eyes to light up.
It’s also the weekend’s showcase game, as it will be on ABC at 8 p.m. (EST). If Alabama does to Florida what I’m expecting it to, most of the country’s eyes will be on this game and this game alone. That’s the perfect storm for Wilson’s Heisman campaign. Of course it could also work against him. If Wilson has a bad game in a loss, it will be remembered by voters into December. If his running back Montee Ball goes nuts — which he is certainly capable of — voters might question the importance Wilson to the Badgers.
That’s not going to happen, though. Expect Wilson to be let loose, both through the air and with his feet, and expect to wake up Sunday hearing his name mentioned with “Heisman frontrunner” attached to it.
Six Pack: 6 Observations from Texas-Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s reign as the best team in the nation lasted only one week as the top-ranked Sooners fell at home to Big 12 rival Texas 45-35 on Saturday. Below are six quick-hit observations from the game.
1. Colt McCoy has become more than a fantastic player. The Longhorns’ junior QB has been one of the more talked about players in college football since his freshman year. But it was evident in UT’s win over OU that McCoy has become much more than that – he’s also become a leader for Mack Brown. Despite being down 11 on two separate occasions in the first half and playing through four lead changes, McCoy never panicked. He also didn’t make a mistake and while fellow candidate Sam Bradford had flashier numbers, McCoy proved why he should be the front-runner for the Heisman this year. McCoy certainly benefited from Chris Ogbonnaya’s (15 carries, 127 yards) as well, who had one of most pivotal plays of the game when he broke a 62-yard run to set up a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
2. While it was in a losing effort, Sam Bradford’s performance was phenomenal. It’s easy to forget that he’s only a sophomore with how mature he has looked this year. And while he did throw two interceptions (one was on the last play of the game on a desperation pass), his performance isn’t why OU won’t find themselves at the top of the rankings when the new polls are released.
3. Where was the defense? For being the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma’s defense just wasn’t that good to begin with and it showed today. The Horns racked up 45 points and 438 yards of offense sure, but the bottom line is that the Sooners’ defense couldn’t come up with the big play when it mattered most. And they allowed UT wideouts to roam free too many times in the secondary.
4. What was the game plan again? Speaking of OU’s defense, coordinator Brent Venables continues to make zero adjustments when his unit is being scorched. The amount of openings that McCoy and the Longhorns had offensively couldn’t have only been because the Sooner defenders were missing assignments. OU’s overall defensive game plan was weak from the start.
5. The officiating in his game was brutal. Blown calls were the norm and there were two plays that were inexcusably not reviewed. At least it was bad on both sides.
6. The Big 12 is still up for grabs. Looking ahead, Texas certainly isn’t in the clear yet to win the Big 12. The Longhorns host No. 3 Missouri and No. 17 Oklahoma State the next two weeks, then are at No. 7 Texas Tech and No. 16 Kansas in November. OU hosts Kansas next week, but doesn’t have to face Missouri and gets Texas Tech at home before facing in-state rival Oklahoma State to wrap up the season.