Big Ten: Updated Heisman Trophy Race After Week Two

Sep 8, 2018; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (23) rushes for a touchdown during the second quarter against the New Mexico Lobos at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Two Saturdays into the season, and we have a good idea of who the superstars are. It’s still early in the season, so the battle for the Heisman Trophy is still in its opening phases. But let’s face it, everyone is going to talk about it anyway. Because of that, we might as well go over some of the players from the Big Ten conference that could win the award.

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB

Wisconsin’s coaches are certainly doing their part in helping Jonathan Taylor win the Heisman. He was given 33 carries in the blowout of New Mexico, and he made the most of them to reach an average of 7.7 yards per rush. Not only that, but Taylor helped his team on the scoreboard by punching in three touchdowns.

They weren’t all goalline touchdowns either, with one of them coming from a 16 yard run around the edge. Overall, he had 253 yards and looked pretty good with the exception of the fumble. That’s going to be a problem if it happens in bigger games, but not many will care about early season fumbles like this. If a running back wins the Heisman this year, it looks like Taylor is the one that’s on pace to do it.

Like many of the other players that are putting up big numbers in the early season, we still have to see him against better competition. The Badgers, after all, have only played against New Mexico and Western Kentucky at this point in the season. In their next game, we’ll see Taylor against a BYU team that already has a win against power five opponent Arizona.

Dwayne Haskins Jr., Ohio State QB

Haskins already has five touchdowns through two games, despite this being his first year in the starting role. And boy, has he taken to that starting role well. You could have called the quarterback position a question mark for Ohio State going into the season, but after the first games, it doesn’t seem like there will be an actual competition mid-season.

After throwing for four touchdowns against Rutgers, Haskins should have secured the job. You could make an argument, however, that this game only has a limited value for telling how Haskins will play later in the season. Rutgers didn’t get much pressure on the quarterback and Haskins made some of his best plays while standing in a large and well protected pocket, one that gave him enough time to put the ball where he wanted.

Still, you can’t discount the throws themselves, or the staggering 87% completion percentage from 23 passing attempts. Haskins only threw three passes that weren’t caught, which is pretty impressive. Next week, we’ll get to see what Haskins and the rest of the Ohio State offense looks like against an opponent that has more quality. The Buckeyes have to go to Arlington to face TCU, who won both of their opening games in convincing fashion and currently hold the number sixteen spot in the national rankings.

Trace McSorley, Penn State QB

There might be some doubts about McSorley as a Heisman contender after this week, but he’s on this list of players because he entered the season as one of the biggest favorites. Where does McSorley rank right now? That depends on just how much emphasis you put on pure statistics. Because McSorley didn’t look good statistically against Pitt, but he did his job and helped lead the Nittany Lions to a dominant win.

He had a pair of touchdowns in the blowout, but after only completing 14 out of 30 attempted passes, his stat line isn’t as impressive as the team’s overall performance. Still, it wasn’t a bad game from McSorley, who made plays when they were needed and did his part to push the result from a close game to a much stronger win. His 4.8 yards per pass average, however, definitely doesn’t look good.

To be fair to McSorley, the weather during the game wasn’t good for passing. It just won’t be a game that wins over Heisman voters, and if McSorley wants to stay near the top of the race for the award, he’ll have to start taking over games in conference play. Furthermore, McSorley should likely have three touchdown passes in this game, as one surefire touchdown was dropped by the receiver in the end zone after a good pass.

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