Since the beginning of the BCS era back in 1998, only three Big Ten players have won the Heisman Trophy. But, college football has ditched the BCS and has moved on. So, it is quite possible that someone from the Big Ten (more like big 14) could win this year’s Heisman Trophy. Which Big Ten players have the best shot at winning the most prestigious trophy in college football? Well, here are five candidates to consider:
1) Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin RB
The Badgers have a long history of outstanding running backs. And, Gordon may be on his way to becoming the best Badger back since the great Ron Dayne. If that’s the case, then Gordon could very well be this year’s Heisman winner. Gordon is my favorite to win the Heisman for a few reasons.
First of all, he’s a running back. And, he is the most talented back in the nation. Secondly, he’s a Badger. So, he’ll put up some Heisman-worthy numbers like Dayne back in 1999. Expect big things from Gordon in 2014.
2) Braxton Miller, Ohio State QB
These days, in order to win the Heisman you have to be a dual threat quarterback. Miller is the best dual threat QB in the nation. He is the perfect quarterback for Urban Meyer’s system. I like to think of him as Meyer’s new Tim Tebow. But, he has a better arm.
I think that Miller’s Heisman candidacy will depend on how Ohio State does. They are the favorites to win the Big Ten, but anything can happen. Miller will have to combine his talent and leadership skills in order to lead the Buckeyes to the first ever college football playoff.
3) Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska RB
This may surprise you, but Abdullah was the league’s leading rusher last season with 1,609 yards. Abdullah played a big role in Nebraska’s offense last season, so that means he’ll play an even bigger part this season.
He is part of a team that doesn’t look as good compared to recent years, but he has the heaviest workload of any running back in the Big Ten. Abdullah will definitely challenge Gordon for the crown as the best back in the Big Ten and could end being one of the first backs chosen in the upcoming NFL Draft.
4) Stefon Diggs, Maryland WR
Diggs is a hit or miss player. When healthy, he is one of the most explosive receivers in the nation. The problem is that he can’t stay healthy as much as you would like. He has missed a total of six games in his first two years at Maryland.
We’ll have to see how Diggs adjusts to playing in the Big Ten. And, the Big Ten will have to adjust to facing off against him. Diggs is a fantastic playmaker after the catch and looks more like a running back in the open field rather than a receiver. And, a change in competition could be healthy for Diggs and could help his Heisman candidacy.
5) Christian Hackenberg, Penn State QB
Hackenberg is a player that is here to stay. Last season, as a true freshman, Hackenberg took the conference by storm. This year, he hopes to do even better with a new head coach and a new supporting cast.
Hackenberg’s most trusted wideout Allen Robinson is gone and so is Bill O’Brien, but he is a player that can do things on his own. He isn’t as dangerous of a runner as Braxton Miller, but Hackenberg can make more plays with his arm. So, could we see an encore from Hackenberg this year? Well, that all depends on what he has to work with. Penn State doesn’t have much depth on offense, so I wouldn’t consider him a Heisman favorite or anything like that. But, keep him in mind.
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