Written By: Kellen Sharpe
Before the Big Ten season started, there were a few players who looked to contend for the Heisman trophy. But, after an impressive and surprising Saturday, there looks to be great talent coming from the Big Ten. I will be determining which players I believe have real shots at winning the Heisman trophy.
1.) Justin Fields – Ohio State
The obvious favorite for the Heisman trophy, not only in the Big Ten but also in the world of college football. Justin Fields is coming off a 2019 season in which Fields led the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff berth, he looks to continue dominating the Big Ten and lead his team to another playoff berth. Fields started off the 2020 season with a fantastic performance against a promising Nebraska team throwing for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 passing attempts. Fields also ran for 56 yards and 1 touchdown to top off a great Heisman performance. It will be interesting to see if Fields can continue with a dominant performance against Penn State this upcoming Saturday.
2.) Joe Milton – Michigan
Joe Milton is a Junior who got his first start this past Saturday versus Minnesota. Milton proved that he deserves to be on the Heisman watch list. Coming into the 2020 season with a massive chip on his shoulder, Milton balled out in his first game. Throwing for 225 yards and rushing for 52 yards, Milton came up with two touchdowns in a dominating win over a good Minnesota team. Look for Milton to continue to play at a high level because a player who was doubted by everyone is not going to stop working after one good game.
3.) Sean Clifford – Penn State
Sean Clifford is a strange case to judge. Clifford put the yards and points up against Indiana, but he also had costly turnovers that put Penn State into a hole early. Clifford turned it up in the second and in overtime, throwing for 3 touchdowns and rushing for another that brought Penn State back into the game. But, a total of 357 yards from Clifford wasn’t enough to beat Indiana as it came down to a very controversial call by the referees to decide the game. The true test to see if Sean Clifford is a legitimate Heisman candidate is this weekend against Ohio State. If he can get anywhere close to where he was against Indiana, this OSU versus PSU Halloween game should be a real treat.
4.) Tanner Morgan – Minnesota
Tanner Morgan, in my opinion, is overhyped. Coming off an above average season where he had fantastic skill position players surrounding him, he was set to have a great season this year. But, after Saturday’s game against Michigan, I would say his chances at obtaining the Heisman trophy have taken a steep drop. I still believe that he has a chance though, because the Golden Gophers have what is probably the easiest schedule in the Big Ten. They face only one currently ranked opponent for the rest of the season leading me to believe that Morgan still has a good chance of turning the season around.
5.) Graham Mertz – Wisconsin
This is probably the one I am going to get the most flack for but I don’t think there is enough to put Graham Mertz higher on the list. Graham Mertz is a Freshman for Wisconsin who was able to play his first game against an easy opponent in Illinois. Mertz threw for 248 yards and 5 touchdowns, which is the record for the most touchdowns thrown in a player’s first start. While it is a great performance, it was against Illinois who is one of the weaker teams in the Big Ten. Also, Mertz was just confirmed to test positive for Covid-19, which means he will be out for roughly 3 weeks. With possibly missing all that time, he will fall way behind in the Heisman race but will come back to either a game against Michigan or Northwestern. I’m sure Mertz hopes it is Northwestern. I do believe that Mertz could win, especially with the talent he has, but I would say that for an entire season with no covid, Mertz would be number 2 on this list.
6.) Darrian Bell – Purdue
It’s been a long time since a wide receiver has won the Heisman trophy, 29 years to be exact, but I think the wideout from Purdue has a real shot. With Rondale Moore out, Darrian has a real shot to pad his stats and lead all receivers in yards. Bell already put up a monster performance against Iowa with 13 receptions, 121 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Also, with Alabama’s wide receiver Jaylen Waddle being out due to injury, that leaves Darrian with an even greater chance of being the first wide receiver in 29 years to win the Heisman and become the 4th wide receiver of all time to hold that coveted title.
7.) Adrian Martinez – Nebraska
Adrian Martinez is a very good dual-threat quarterback who has in the Heisman conversation for his second year now. But, after the disappointing season that Martinez had last year, I find it hard to ride very high on him again this year. With clear talent, Martinez cracks the top 7 but, I wouldn’t be surprised if he dips down into another slump this year. Martinez has already had a disappointing game, but I am not going to hold that too much against him because he did play against Ohio State, which isn’t a team you would like to face in week 1. All around, Martinez is a talented player but it is nearly impossible to predict what could happen for him this year.
- Michael Penix Jr, QB, Indiana
- Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern
- Rocky Lombardi, QB, Michigan State
- Isaiah Pacheco, RB, Rutgers
- Spencer Petras, QB, Iowa
- Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland
- Brandon Peters, QB, Illinois
With the fluctuating covid cases and injuries, this list could be completely wrong in 3 weeks. So, I will be going back to revise this list towards the middle of the season when we have more of an understanding of how everyone adapts to this ever-changing season.
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