All eyes are on Denard Robinson in 2012.
Athlon Sports has Robinson atop its list of Big Ten Heisman hopefuls, and betting site Bovada has Robinson third among all players in its Heisman betting, putting the odds of a Robinson win at 11/2.
So let's stop and consider what a Denard Robinson Heisman-winning season would actually look like and what he needs to do to get to New York with a chance at taking home the Stiff-Arm.
Of course, what other players do on the field matters, too—if Matt Barkley goes for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns while USC goes undefeated, that'll probably be all she wrote no matter what Robinson does—but here's what Robinson has some measure of control over.
How well will Denard Robinson do in 2012?
Minimum 11 Wins, Again
Fair or not, the Heisman Trophy usually has as much to do with the win-loss records as anything else—particularly in comparison to historical reputation. Getting as close to the top two as possible is crucial for Heisman consideration, but really anything with double-digit wins is enough to get voters' attention.
Michigan needs to do better than just 10 wins, but 11 and at least a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship would probably be enough. If Michigan falters, though, it probably won't matter what Robinson does on the field.
Get the Record
Denard Robinson is 1,251 rushing yards away from Pat White's all-time FBS quarterback rushing record of 4,480 yards. That's pretty incredible considering the fact that Robinson is only coming into his third season as a starter, but here we are.
At any rate, Heisman voters love career records being set—just ask Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne—and being literally "the best rushing quarterback in FBS history" would go a long way in cementing Robinson's legacy.
Moreover, if Robinson doesn't break the record, that means he rushed for 1,250 yards or lower, and frankly, if he can't hit that mark for the season, he probably isn't doing well enough to merit Heisman candidacy.
Big Plays, Big Plays, Big Plays
Voters like highlights, and Denard Robinson is a highlight-reel player extraordinaire. He needs more and more of those in 2012, the types of plays where you see them and think, "Wow, there's nobody else in the nation who's doing that, or even can."
No More Bad Denard
Nobody's expecting Denard Robinson to turn into Andrew Luck overnight, and the passing mistakes are probably always going to be there. But if he wants to show voters that he's the best player in the nation in 2012, at the very least, he needs to limit those mistakes and put together solid games overall.
Here's an example. Michigan may have won the 2012 Sugar Bowl, but Denard's line—13 rushes, 13 yards, 9-of-21 passing, 117 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT—is the type of game he just can't have even once in 2012 if he wants the Heisman.
Maybe Robinson breaks through there in his senior season. Maybe his worst mistakes are past him. If so, he's a legitimate Heisman contender, and it would be great to see the Heisman back in the Big Ten for the first time since 2006.