Five candidates for B1G Heisman Trophy
This is the time of year that Heisman Trophy candidates punch their tickets to New York. One month will determine who will end up in New York.
Instead of looking at who the national candidates are to wind up among college football immortality, let’s take a look at who would win the B1G Heisman if the award was decided today.
You’ll notice there is only one quarterback on this list. Your welcome, college football fans.
5. Jourdan Lewis, Michigan CB
If you’re sick of me saying that Lewis is an All-American corner, stop reading. Really. You won’t like this. If you don’t want to believe that Lewis is on that level, just listen to the stats provided by Pro Football Focus. He leads the country in passes defended. He’s allowed just 38 percent of his targets to be completed. When quarterbacks make the awful decision to attack Lewis, they have just a 40.6 passer rating. There are few — if any — cornerbacks in America with numbers like that. There’s a reason this defense is ranked second in the country in scoring. Lewis is a big part of it.
4. Joe Schobert, Wisconsin LB
It’s hard to believe that arguably the top two defensive players in the B1G are former walk-ons. Schobert still gets after it like he is. I mean, how else do you explain his 14.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles? C.J. Beathard knows how relentless Schobert is. B1G offenses have enough to worry about on the Badger defense. Vince Biegel and T.J. Edwards are menacing enough without Schobert. It’s a shame that the Badgers are no longer in control of their own B1G West destiny, because Schobert is leading a championship defense. Still, the top ranked unit in the country will be a dangerous team down the stretch, especially if Schobert keeps playing at an All-American level.
3. Connor Cook, Michigan State QB
The nation’s winningest quarterback is having his grittiest season to date in East Lansing. Before this year, Cook always came off as one of those guys that looked bored. That’s a compliment. Nothing rattles him. This year is proof of Cook’s resiliency. Despite the fact that he’s played without his starting running back, 60 percent of his offensive line and red-zone safety valve, Cook keeps on trucking. He has a 17-to-2 touchdown/interception ratio, which is the best among any B1G quarterback, and also leads the B1G in touchdown passes and passing yards. Still, Cook’s impact goes beyond the stat sheet. Without him, there’s no telling where Michigan State might be right now.
2. Carl Nassib, Penn State DE
Coaches like to hype guys up in the preseason. James Franklin was hyping the senior defensive end about as much as somebody could. Well, he might’ve been underselling him. The nation’s leader in sacks — and it’s not even close — has been the best pass-rusher in America so far. Even better, Nassib is consistent. He has a sack in every game this season and is one away from setting the Penn State single season record. At Linebacker U, Nassib and the Penn State defensive line are all the rage. It’s worth noting that Nassib actually got a letter from the Heisman committee saying that he was on their watch list. He isn’t some unknown walk-on anymore. With every sack this season, Nassib’s bank account is growing. But before he takes his talents to the the next level, Nassib still has some B1G quarterbacks to harass.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State RB
When you have a three-game stretch like Elliott did in last year’s postseason, preseason expectations are going to be ridiculous. Usually, guys struggle to meet them. In Zeke’s case, he’s certainly met them. For those of us that watch him on a weekly basis, we know that he deserves to be in the Heisman discussion. But from a national prospective, the Ohio State quarterback situation has overshadowed Zeke’s dominance. The nation’s fifth-leading rusher has 13 straight 100-yard games, a streak that dates back to last November. He was held under four yards per carry in one game…a game in which he also had 100 yards and three touchdowns. And if you don’t think a ridiculously talented, consistent running back would ever get a New York invite, consider this. In Mark Ingram’s 2009 Heisman Trophy season, his 13-game pace was 251 carries, 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns. Elliott’s 13-game pace is 271 carries, 1,836 yards and 21 touchdowns. If Elliott is still leading an undefeated Buckeye team at the end of the regular season, he’ll be plenty worthy of a trip to the Big Apple.
Honorable mention: Desmond King (Iowa CB), Jabrill Peppers (Michigan S), Aaron Burbridge (Michigan WR), Joey Bosa (Ohio State DE), Anthony Walker (Northwestern LB).