The 5-2 Wisconsin Badgers have been on a roller-coaster to start the season as has their best player in running back Montee Ball.
During the off-season, Ball was ticketed during a block-party and then assaulted by five men not far from his apartment building. The season started off just as rocky with sub-par performances from Ball behind a makeshift offensive line, all while the Badgers searched for an offensive identity during their first five games.
It would all change in a game against Purdue though, when Ball broke off a career-high 247 yards and became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 72.
As Head Coach Bret Bielema pointed out during his weekly teleconference, Ball is “definitely feeling the mojo.”
His reasoning behind the decision was to improve his value to NFL scouts by helping the Badgers win big games and winning college football’s most prestigious award, the Heisman Trophy.
Ball started out as one of the favorites to win the award, but has completely fell out of the discussion after failing to have one of those eye-popping performances in the first six weeks.
The newly donned Mont-AY and not Mont-EE had so much hype going into the season, he’s been mildly misjudged in regards to numbers. Here’s how he stacks up from 2011 to 2012 through the similar seven games.
2011 – 125 ATT, 768 YDS, 17 TD, 6.14 YPC/ 9 REC, 190 YDS, 2 TD
2012 – 172 ATT, 816 YDS, 11 TD, 4.7 YPC/ 9 REC, 65 YDS, 0 TD
This just goes to show you how far touchdowns can go in a Heisman campaign. Ball has been utilized much more this season, but the Badgers as a team have failed to score nearly as many touchdowns as they did last season. When it comes down to it at the end of the season, I’m not sure Ball should be penalized for being a part of a less talented team.
Nonetheless, Ball still has an uphill climb to find himself back in the discussion for the almighty Heisman.
How can he get there?
He can start by having another one of those dominant performances which earned him Big Ten Player of the Week for the fifth time in his career. He has an excellent chance to duplicate the performance against Minnesota who has a stout pass defense, but not as solid of a rush defense.
Another aspect which will go a long way is putting together a highlight reel of sensational plays. His 67 yard scamper against the Boilermakers was a great start. Ball has the skill-set to do so with his elusive moves and ability to bounce off defenders.
Thirdly, he sits just six scores from the All-Time NCAA record for touchdowns, held by Travis Prentice who scored 78 while at the University of Miami-of-Ohio. This is the kind of record which will get enough publicity to bring Ball back into the spotlight.
And most importantly, Ball has to make sure the Badgers keep winning. If they can run the table and pull off a second win at the Big Ten Championship (not saying that will happen or is likely), they will reach the Rose Bowl, giving Ball yet another chance to shine in front of a national audience.
To recap, Ball needs to have two or three more monster performances, make Sportscenter’s Top 10 a couple of times, break the NCAA touchdown record and help the Badgers reach the Rose Bowl to have a shot at winning the Heisman.
I’m in no way saying this will occur, but rather laying out the framework for Ball’s chances at a Heisman Trophy.
What do you think? Can Montee Ball get back in the hunt for a Heisman Trophy? Let me know by commenting below.
If you would like to support Ball’s Heisman Campaign, follow the official twitter account @MoneyBall28 and use the hashtag #ThisFallBelongsToBall.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.Follow paulmbanks