Kirk Cousins and Ryan Van Bergen
With five weeks left in the Big Ten’s regular season, the conference race looks to be a great one.
The five teams at the top are currently within a single game, and only one conference team, Minnesota (1-7, 0-4), has an overall losing record.
By not having Ohio State (7-1, 3-1) on its schedule, undefeated Michigan State (8-0, 4-0) appears to be in the driver's seat.
The race for individual honors is equally competitive. The battle for offensive player of the year could even come down to "The Game" in Columbus.
Our short list includes six potential stars, all with a chance to eventually play on Sundays.
Both the Buckeyes and Pryor have looked sluggish at times during the 2010 Big Ten season.
Illinois (4-3, 2-2) gave the Buckeyes all they could handle October 2 in Champaign before falling 24-13. Pryor struggled, passing for only 76 yards and rushing for 104 in the Buckeye victory.
The junior also looked ordinary in the 31-18 loss to Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1) October 16. He rushed for 56 yards, passed for 156 and was sacked three times.
Of course, Pryor and the Buckeyes can be extremely explosive and could easily wind up in the middle of the Big Ten title picture. The Buckeyes face their toughest remaining test at Iowa November 20 before hosting “The Game” against Michigan (5-2, 1-2) November 27.
Martin can beat you in a variety of ways. He caught a touchdown pass in MSU’s win over Notre Dame and ran a punt back 74 yards for a touchdown in the win over Wisconsin.
Martin’s returned 16 kickoffs for an 18.9 average, brought back 14 punts for a Big Ten-leading 15.0-yard average and has rushed the ball 10 times for 105 yards. His primary position is wide receiver, where he’s caught 24 passes for 309 yards.
Martin is also on the short list for the 2010 Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation’s most versatile player.
Along with Terrelle Pryor, Robinson could explode during the second half of the conference season.
In the two previous Michigan losses, Robinson was subpar at best. Against Michigan State, Robinson’s longest run was 16 yards, and he appeared confused by the Spartan defense, also throwing three interceptions.
Against Iowa (5-2, 2-1), he rushed for 105 yards and passed for 96 before leaving the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Thanks to a bye week, Robinson has had extra time to rest and should be ready for Penn State.
His statistics remain incredible, despite accumulating many of them against so-called inferior opposition.
Robinson has rushed for 1,096 yards (8.0 yards per carry) while throwing for 1,319 yards at a 68 percent completion rate.
Many picked the senior to lead Iowa to the 2010 Big Ten title. But the recent loss to Wisconsin and a tough schedule ahead make the title path for Iowa a difficult one.
Stanzi completed 25 of 37 passes with three touchdowns in the heartbreaking 31-30 loss to the Badgers.
His numbers for the season are equally impressive indeed. Stanzi’s hit 124 of 188 passes for 1,732 yards and 16 touchdowns with only two picks.
Iowa hosts Michigan State this Saturday and must also face Northwestern (5-2, 1-2) and Ohio State.
The Wisconsin running back won the award in 2009 while piling up 1,500 rushing yards as a sophomore. Clay’s had a pretty good 2010 season, scoring 13 touchdowns while rushing for 887 yards.
Clay rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s 31-30 win at Iowa. He also scored two touchdowns and gained 104 yards on the ground in the huge 31-18 win over then-No. 1 Ohio State on October 16.
He’d probably be the favorite at this point if it wasn’t for the 34-24 loss at Michigan State and the emergence of freshman teammate James White. In fact, White outgained Clay in the MSU loss and has nine touchdowns and 570 yards on his own.
It’s his award to lose with four games remaining, including the big test at Iowa Saturday. A win over the Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1) would take the Spartans (8-0, 4-0) a long way towards capturing their first Big Ten title since 1990.
Cousins has directed the MSU offense flawlessly, completing 141 of 212 passes for 1,948 yards, 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
The junior captain from Holland, MI brought the Spartans from a 17-point deficit to a 35-27 win at Northwestern last Saturday. He completed 27 of 35 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
With the 34-17 win over Michigan October 9, Cousins became the first Spartan in 43 years to defeat the Wolverines twice in a career.