The Big Ten hasn't had a Heisman Trophy winner since Troy Smith in 2006. Barring some surprising developments in the final five weeks, the league will once again come up empty-handed in the race for college football's most coveted prize.
I had Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson at the top of my ESPN.com Heisman watch ballot for the past couple of weeks, but Wilson is now off the board after the Badgers' loss at Michigan State. Wilson threw two interceptions and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone that resulted in a safety. He did lead Wisconsin on a fourth-quarter rally from 14 points down and might have kept his hopes alive with a big overtime performance. Alas, the game's final play ended those thoughts.
So Wilson would have to be spectacular down the stretch and probably would have to beat Michigan State in a Big Ten title game rematch to have any chance at all. The problem, though, is there's a lot of good competition around the country at quarterback, including Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, Tajh Boyd, Robert Griffin and Case Keenum, not to mention other candidates like Trent Richardson. Wilson would need all those guys to falter, too.
Until further developments warrant, we can count Wilson out of the race. Same goes for his teammate Montee Ball, who ran for 115 yards and had two touchdowns despite suffering a head injury in the first half. Ball did nothing wrong, but his team's loss hurts.
Michigan State has now derailed two straight Heisman campaigns, knocking out Michigan's Denard Robinson two weeks earlier. The Spartans' own Kirk Cousins had a terrific game against Wisconsin and has the kind of character Heisman voters love. But Cousins' numbers are a bit too pedestrian in a season loaded with so many other high-profile quarterbacks.