Wisconsin's first Heisman candidate since Ron Dayne?
Russell Wilson has been obscenely good in his first two starts as a Badger. The competition hasn't been great, but he's looked poised and has yet to make a mistake in a Wisconsin uniform. For the season, Wilson is 27-of-34 with 444 passing yards and five touchdowns. He has no interceptions and four of those seven incompletions have come on dropped passes. He also has six rushes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps even more importantly, Wilson showed the ability to carry the load on offense when Oregon State loaded the box and shut down the Badgers' rushing attack in the first quarter Saturday.
Few in the FBS have been as efficient as Wilson; he ranks second in the nation in passer rating and fourth in completion percentage. Maybe it comes as no surprise then, that he's starting to get some Heisman buzz over at ESPN, where Ryan McGee recently made a case for the Badger quarterback to be included among the Landry Jones' and Andrew Luck's of the world. Additionally, Ryan McCrystal has Wilson behind only Denard Robinson as the favorite in his Heisman Predictor. (Insider subscription required for both)
McGee likes Wilson's Heisman potential not only because of his gaudy statistics, but because he plays on a team that will contend for a BCS bowl bid. "Staying in the national spotlight will be easy, win or lose," he writes.
Besides the obvious they-haven't-played-anyone-decent-yet narrative, McGee identifies a few reasons Wilson will not win college football's most prestigious individual honor. The most compelling of the three to me is the fact that Wilson isn't like Robert Griffin or Denard Robinson in terms of big-game potential. Wilson will be steady, limit mistakes and probably won't have to win games by himself.
Viable candidate or not, it's fun just to have a Badger in the Heisman discussion. So thanks, Russell.
Now that it's been announced that cornerback Devin Smith will be redshirted, it looks like the Badgers will return a very strong secondary in 2012. They'll bring back Smith, his 2011 replacement Marcus Cromartie, and starting strong safety Shelton Johnson.
Former Wisconsin defensive coordinator and current Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren says he doesn't have too many regrets about last year's Rose Bowl loss.
Andy Baggot's profile of NIU starting quarterback Chandler Harnish has a lot of parallels with Wilson. Harnish is a four-year starter and is the reigning Mid-America Conference Player of the Year.
Tom Mulhern highlighted some of the subtle changes Paul Chryst made to Wisconsin's offense this season. Specifically, he discusses Chryst's use of five-wide packages, in which Wilson is 3-for-3 for 40 yards this season.
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