With the Badgers on a bye this week, now is as good a time as any to look at Russell Wilson’s chances to win the Heisman Trophy.
Wilson started the season barely on the fringes of the Heisman talk, and week-by-week, with increasingly more impressive performances, he is now in the national conversation. In fact, in ESPN’s Heisman Watch this week, he is ranked second behind Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Wilson received three (of 15) first place votes and is just two overall points behind Luck for the top spot.
Leading the explosive Wisconsin offense, Wilson’s statistics in most categories rival those of every QB in the country as well. He is behind only Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in QB rating with 216.9 (Griffin’s- 230.3), and is third in completion percentage with a 74.8%. Griffin ranks above him in most of the categories, and Wilson is out of the top-10 in both passing yards and touchdowns, but the overall situation he is playing in makes his performance quite impressive and worthy of recognition.
He came to Wisconsin, a team long-known for its insistence on running the ball and “pounding it down the opponent’s throat”, and completely changed its offensive gameplan. The Badgers are infinitely more dynamic on offense with Wilson behind center, as they can still run the ball, and now can throw a quick pass, throw a deep ball, or have the QB run with it. And that he did this with only a couple months of practice with his teammates speaks even more to how talented he is and how much work he put(s) in.
Wilson’s resume was padded this past weekend with a dominant performance against Nebraska, in what was the Badgers’ toughest matchup so far. The Cornhusker defense is perennially good– though has struggled a bit this season– and Wilson absolutely tore it apart, throwing for 255 yards and two scores, and rushing for 32 yards and a touchdown. He threw passes all over the field, and was especially awe-inspiring the times he scrambled around, avoided defenders, and then effortlessly launched passes deep down the field to well-covered receivers– completing them almost every time.
He certainly doesn’t do it alone, and has the skill players around him in WR Nick Toon, RB Montee Ball, and TE Jacob Pedersen to make him a better quarterback. And enough can’t be said about how he benefits from passing behind a top-
tier offensive line. But this is what wins players the Heisman– being on a successful team with a lot of talent, and rising to the top to be the leader of that team. Wilson has gone above and beyond being a leader for Wisconsin, and has kept his composure and will to win at every point this season, leading his teammates to a promising 5-0 start.
Now when people talk Wisconsin football, they talk Russell Wilson. Period. That is such a drastic change from Wisconsin’s history, and shows just how much of an impact Wilson has had. He’s wowed opponents and fans alike, and looks unstoppable in his quest to take the Badgers to an undefeated season and an appearance in a top BCS Bowl. Maybe along the way he’ll pick up a trophy or two.