For the first time in recent memory, the Big Ten has a strong presence in the very early stages of this year's Heisman Trophy race.
Last week, I wrote that I'd wait a while before including any new Heisman candidates. Denard Robinson has prevented me from doing so. While there's a long, long way to go, Robinson's performance so far this season has blown away the competition. Two of my preseason Heisman candidates from the Big Ten have slid off the radar, though they can return soon.
I've also included a Heisman horizon category. These are players not only performing well, but guys who have some name recognition nationally because like it or not, hype means a lot in this award race.
Let's get started ...
Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Week 2 stat line: 28 rushes, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 24-for-40 passing, 244 pass yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, set Michigan single-game total offense record with 502 yards in win at Notre Dame.
Chances: Soaring. No player in the country has done more to put himself on the national radar than Robinson. He set Michigan's single-game quarterback rushing record in Week 1 and then broke it Saturday against Notre Dame, putting up the fifth-highest rushing total for any Michigan player in team history. The speed is one thing, but Robinson also shows an ability to make clutch plays both with his legs and his arm. He's doing it all right now for one of the nation's most recognizable programs, which is a great formula for Heisman contention.
Up next: Saturday vs. Massachusetts
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Week 2 stat line: 12-for-27 passing, 233 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 20 carries, 113 rush yards, 1 TD in win against Miami.
Chances: Hovering. Pryor remains in the first tier of Heisman candidates, though he'll need to be a bit more polished in the coming weeks. He avoided a major mistake against Miami, although he made a few bad throws into coverage that should have been intercepted. Pryor attacked downfield well at times and had a very nice performance as a runner. He'll have some chances to put up big numbers the next four weeks as Ohio State faces Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
Up next: Saturday vs. Ohio
Wisconsin RB John Clay
Week 2 stat line: 23 carries, 137 rush yards, 2 TDs in win against San Jose State.
Chances: I'm one of the few national media members giving Clay any love for the Heisman right now, but he deserves it. He has become one of the nation's most consistent backs, eclipsing 100 rushing yards in eight straight games. Clay has at least one rushing touchdown in his past eight games and has gone for two or more touchdowns in four consecutive games stretching back to 2009. The burly junior might not get noticed nationally for a while because of Wisconsin's soft schedule.
Up next: Saturday vs. Arizona State
Heisman horizon: Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi, Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan