Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 11/14/11
MADISON, Wis. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture of Heisman Trophy voting in college football, the stock of top-level candidates fluctuates as frequently as oil prices in the Middle East. Entering last Saturday, for example, the consensus top four contenders appeared to be in no particular order Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.Pundits deemed Luck as the frontrunner for the honor. That is, until his Stanford team lost, 53-30, against Oregon, and he threw two interceptions. Moore represented the darkhorse candidate based on a stellar career that featured 46 wins and just two losses. But a 36-35 defeat against unranked TCU on Saturday derailed his dream season.Richardson's Crimson Tide has already lost, 9-6, against top-ranked LSU. And Weeden's Cowboys, while undefeated, still must face in-state rival Oklahoma, ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings, in the regular-season finale on Dec. 3. If the idea behind the Heisman voting deals, in part, with which players help their team win in key moments, then all four candidates could have a serious flaw on their season resume.With that concept in mind, then, is it so unreasonable to ask: Don't Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball both deserve serious consideration for the Heisman Trophy?Wilson, the North Carolina State transfer, is on pace to obliterate the NCAA record for pass efficiency, which takes into account basic statistics such as passes attempted and completed, number of yards passing, touchdowns and interceptions.Ball, a 1,000-yard rusher, already has broken the Wisconsin and Big Ten single-season record for touchdowns scored at 27, leading the country with two regular-season games remaining.Badgers football coach Bret Bielema may be biased on the subject matter, but his judgment appears sound."I think they both deserve equal consideration," Bielema said during his weekly press conference on Monday. "Obviously, people kind of gravitated to Russell first. Quarterbacks naturally when they're playing well get the attention a little bit quicker. "Montee, I think everybody came into the season, they thought maybe it was going to be more of a split role between him and (running back) James (White). The things we saw during fall camp, Montee had kind of separated himself. Montee isn't a real vocal kid. He's not a guy that's going to grab the headlines for anything other than his play, and that's exactly what he wants."Wilson garnered early Heisman Trophy consideration before back-to-back last-minute losses against Michigan State and Ohio State sent his stock tumbling. In each game, Wilson led the Badgers on late-game comebacks to either tie the game or take the lead. He has since won two straight games, throwing six touchdown passes with no interceptions. Ball's accomplishments have gained steam in the second half of the season. He leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the country with 1,242 rushing yards. He also has four more touchdowns scored than any other position player in the Football Bowl Subdivision."Montee is an impressive player," Wilson said. "He's got a lot of talent. He pass protects extremely well. He runs the ball extremely well and he catches, too. With all those intangibles and all the things that he does in terms of the leadership aspect, it's pretty impressive."I'd probably have to vote for Montee. He's my teammate. He's the man. Moneyball, I guess they call him."A comparison of Wilson and Ball's statistics juxtaposed with the other Heisman Trophy candidates reveals that both players stack of favorably. This season, Wilson has completed 160 of 218 pass attempts (73 percent) for 2,416 yards with 25 touchdowns and three interceptions, although the Badgers run the ball on nearly 65 percent of their offensive plays. Luck has 2,680 yards passing with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions but has thrown four picks in his last three games. Moore has 2,549 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and five interceptions.Weeden, who operates out of a spread offense, has completed 313 of 428 passes for 3,635 with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Houston quarterback Case Keenum, another darkhorse candidate, has thrown for 3,951 yards with 37 touchdowns and three interceptions. But the Cougars' offense passes on 59 percent of its plays.The Heisman case for Ball may be even more confusing than Wilson. In 2009, Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns in 14 games.Ball is on pace to rush for 1,739 yards and score 32 touchdowns on the ground if his Badgers (8-2) play in 14 games. Richardson, meanwhile, is on pace for 1,687 yards with 25 rushing touchdowns.Bielema recognizes that statistics alone don't fully dictate which player wins the Heisman every year, although it serves as a good indicator of a player's talent."It is driven off of the way you play and what kind of team you're on," Bielema said. "You see it right now with what happened over the weekend. Some people lose, and all of a sudden things change in a hurry."Maybe for the better as far as Wilson and Ball's Heisman hopes are concerned.Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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