Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez will each try to lead his team to victory on Saturday in the Big Ten Game of the Year (so far). It could also serve as a Heisman Trophy elimination game for the two star quarterbacks.
ESPN.com's Heisman Predictor currently ranks Wilson third and Martinez fourth among Heisman candidates through four weeks (Michigan's Denard Robinson is No. 1). Both guys have been outstanding this year in very different ways.
Wilson is ranked second nationally in passing efficiency with a 218.38 rating, behind only Baylor's Robert Griffin III. He's completing 75.8 percent of his passes and has an 11-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He's thrown for at least 345 yards in each of his past two games.
Martinez is just a 50 percent passer, but he ranks second in the Big Ten in rushing with 421 yards and seven touchdowns. He's a threat to rip off a huge gain at any time, as he has six rushes of at least 20 yards this season, including four for at least 40 yards.
Let's dig a little deeper, thanks to some nuggets from ESPN Stats & Info:
Wilson is completing 64 percent of his throws of 15-plus yards this season, with no interceptions on those attempts. That's a huge improvement from last season at NC State, when he completed just 33.6 percent of those throws with eight interceptions. Think that Wisconsin running game has helped a little? Wilson is 11-for-14 for 321 yards and two touchdowns on those downfield throws off play-action. Overall, Wilson is completing 77.4 percent of his passes off play-action, averaging 17.2 yards per completion.
Can Martinez make long throws against a Badgers defense that likely will be playing to prevent the run? That often makes the difference for Nebraska. In the Cornhuskers' four losses last season, Martinez went just 3-of-14 on pass attempts of at least 15 yards downfield. When he throws at least one touchdown on a pass of 15 yards or more, Nebraska is 8-0. Against Washington two weeks ago, Martinez completed half of his deep throws for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Martinez is particularly dangerous when he gets on the edge. When running outside the tackles, he's averaging 8.8 yards per carry, compared to 5 yards per carry inside the tackles. Martinez has run the option play 22 times this year, compared to just twice last season. He has run it 19 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns on the option.