Yahoo Contributor Network
This article was created on the Yahoo Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo every day. Learn more »Yahoo Contributor Network
Wisconsin’s Montee Ball is Big Ten RB of the Year and Should Be Serious Heisman Candidate: Fan’s View
Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball was the unanimous choice of both the media and coaches as the Big Ten's Running Back of the Year for 2011 as the conference announced its post season awards on November 28th. The full name of the award is the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year award, named in honor of former Wisconsin running backs Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne.
Both Ameche and Dayne won the Heisman Trophy; Ameche won it in 1954 and Dayne in 1999. Based on the season he has had, Ball should be given serious consideration by the electors for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
Ball leads the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in scoring with 206 points. That's 56 more than the Kansas State's Collin Klein who is second. Ball also leads the FBS with 34 touchdowns, including 29 rushing TDs (also best in the FBS) and five on pass receptions. He has one two point conversion to bring his total to 206. He's even thrown one touchdown pass.
Ball scored at least two touchdowns in every Badger game this season. He scored four TDs three times—against UNLV, Nebraska, and Penn State. He rushed for 769 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in Wisconsin's last four regular season games.
How Montee Ball compares to the Heisman Trophy frontrunners
While several quarterbacks (Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III, and Houston's Case Keenum) are among the acknowledged front runners, the top candidate for this year's Heisman Trophy may be Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Richardson has put up some outstanding numbers for the Crimson Tide, but Ball's numbers compare favorably.
Richardson is tied for third among FBS players in both points scored (138) and touchdowns (23). He is fourth in the nation in rushing yards with 1583. The only common opponent for Alabama and Wisconsin was Penn State. In Alabama's September 10th victory over the Nittany Lions, Richardson rushed 26 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns; Ball rushed 25 times for 156 yards and four touchdowns in Wisconsin's 45-7 victory over Penn State on November 26th.
Ball has put up Heisman caliber numbers, yet is not considered among the leading candidates.
One reason for this is that schools begin actively campaigning for and hyping their players for the award before the season even starts. When Ball began the season, he shared running back duties about evenly with James White. As the season progressed, Ball gradually became the primary running back. By the time it became apparent Ball was having a Heisman type of season, he was behind the frontrunners in terms of publicity and name recognition, with little time to catch up.
I believe another reason is the team's record and conference. Richardson has played well for one of the best teams in what is generally acknowledged as the best conference in college football, the Southeast Conference. Alabama is ranked number two in the country, losing only to number one LSU. Luck's Stanford team is ranked fourth and lost only to number eight and fellow Pac 12 member Oregon. Wisconsin has two last second losses, one to eleventh ranked Michigan State and one to unranked Ohio State (6-6 on the year). No Big Ten teams are in the top ten heading into the conference championship game on December 3rd, and it's possible voters will look at that as an indication of conference strength. In a close race, that could figure into the voting.
Ball is a junior, so Wisconsin will be prepared to start the Heisman hype machine early for next year if he returns. However, with the kind of season Ball has had, I would not be surprised if he is in the NFL and not in Madison in 2012.
Mark Hudziak is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He has followed Wisconsin football since the 1960's.
More from this contributor:
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.