As was the case for the first seven weeks, a Big Ten quarterback leads off the Heisman watch. The difference this time: his name isn't Denard Robinson or Terrelle Pryor. It's about time Ricky Stanzi starts getting some national attention for what he's doing this season for No. 15 Iowa. While Robinson and Pryor both backslid Saturday, Stanzi continued to make strides.
Let's take a look.
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Week 7 stat line: 17-for-24 passing, 248 pass yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs in win against Michigan
Season statistics: 99-for-145 passing (68.3 percent), 1,474 pass yards, 13 TDs, 2 INTs, passer rating of 180.5
Chances: Getting better by the week. Stanzi won't get serious consideration until he puts up big numbers against ranked opponents, but he has a chance to do so the next two weeks against No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 7 Michigan State. The senior still fights his reputation from 2009 as a quarterback who made too many mistakes (15 interceptions, four pick-sixes) and led a team that won games in spite of his miscues. But Stanzi has cleaned up his act in a big way this season, becoming more accurate and effective and smarter with his decision-making.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 13 Wisconsin
Wisconsin RB John Clay
Week 7 stat line: 21 carries, 104 rush yards, 2 TDs in win against Ohio State
Season statistics: 136 carries, 796 rush yards (113.7 ypg), 11 TDs
Chances: Looking better again. Clay isn't among the top group of Heisman candidates just yet, but he helped himself Saturday night. The junior snapped Ohio State's streak of 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. He now has 18 career 100-yard rushing performances, including six in Wisconsin's seven games this season. Clay lacks the flashiness of LaMichael James -- or even his Wisconsin teammate James White, for that matter -- but his consistent production shouldn't be overlooked in the Heisman race.
Up next: Saturday at No. 15 Iowa
Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Week 7 stat line: 18 carries, 105 rush yards; 13-for-18 passing, 96 pass yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in loss to Iowa
Season statistics: 137 carries, 1,096 rush yards (156.6 ypg, 2nd nationally), 9 TDs; 97-for-143 passing, 1,319 pass yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs, passer rating of 159.1 (16th nationally)
Chances: Not looking good. Robinson deserves credit for eclipsing 100 rush yards against Iowa, which is never easy to do. But he threw another interception, his fourth in the last two games, and perhaps more importantly, couldn't stay in the game. You can't win the Heisman if you can't stay healthy, and Robinson has had a hard time staying on the field for entire games this season. His statistics are still remarkable, but Shoelace needs a big passing performance or two in the coming weeks to climb back up the Heisman chart. He also needs to lead Michigan to some more Big Ten victories.
Up next: Bye week before Oct. 30 trip to Penn State
Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Week 7 stat line: 14-for-28 passing, 156 pass yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 18 carries, 56 rush yards in loss to Wisconsin
Season statistics: 118-for-181 passing, 1,505 pass yards, 15 TDs, 4 INTs, passer rating of 158 (17th nationally); 75 carries, 410 rush yards, 3 TDs; 1 reception for a 20-yard touchdown
Chances: Fading. Pryor made some plays with his feet, but he completed only 50 percent of his passes with no touchdowns against a Wisconsin defense that played with an edge Saturday night. The junior needed a much better performance on the national stage to keep pace with the Heisman leaders. Pryor's biggest games this fall have come against Ohio State's weaker opponents; he completed only 12 of 27 passes against Miami and was limited by a quad injury in a 24-13 win against Illinois. To get back in the race, Pryor needs some huge performances against Purdue, Minnesota and Penn State, setting the stage for a showcase game Nov. 20 at Iowa.