Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said this past week that his quarterback should be a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Well, on Saturday, Russell Wilson proved it as the Badgers embarrassed Northern Illinois 49-7 at Solider Field.
“I tell you, Russell Wilson was looking like the guy,” Bielema said. “He knows the plan that we have and he is going to stick to it, but he will adapt and he is very creative. If there is a better guy out there, I would like to see him because he is an exceptional football player.”
Wilson officially threw his name into the ring for college football’s most hallowed individual award by going 23-of-32 for 340 yards and three scores. It’s the most yards he’s thrown for since Sept. 25 last year when he threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Georgia Tech.
Defensive coordinators are throwing their hands up in unison. Either commit to stopping Wisconsin’s running game tandem of Montee Ball and James White and risk losing the game on Wilson’s right arm or stop Wilson and allow Ball and White to gash the front seven.
“The sky is the limit in terms of our ability to keep getting better,” Wilson said, who has completed nearly 76 percent of his throws this season for 791 yards and eight touchdowns. “If we do that, we have a lot of potential. But potential is not anything until we keep doing it every single day. That consistency is what’s very important for us.”
You can expect more of this Badgers fans. Wilson threw for over 300 yards eight times last year with a much lighter offensive line and no running backs averaging better than 4.5 yards a carry. White is averaging 5.8 and Ball is averaging 5.7 this year.
And how could I forget that Wilson also ran six times for 41 yards, bringing his season rushing total to 114. Without Wilson, this team wouldn’t be seventh in the nation and it also wouldn’t be making an entire fan base giddy about a serious national title run.
“He’s playing great,” said fullback Bradie Ewing, who was one of eight Badgers receivers to catch a pass. “He can make plays. You saw it today, when the pocket breaks down he can get out of there and make a play, get a first down for you. He makes great passes when he needs to and he gets the ball out of bounds when he needs to. He knows that fine line. He’s great at reading defenses, but I think he’d be the first to tell you that he can improve, like we all can.”
Coming into this quasi Northern Illinois home game — which was stuffed with red and white, but not full by any means — Wilson was second in the nation in passing efficiency and 40th in total offense while giving the offense an indefensible jumpstart.
Think of Wilson as the anti-Cam Newton. Wilson didn’t swipe a laptop, there hasn’t been talk of Wilson accepting money to play ball and he doesn’t make any boneheaded comments like the dandy Newton made when he called himself an “entertainer and icon” before the NFL combine last winter.
Wilson’s a 22-year-old that was at his dad’s bedside when he passed away due to diabetes moments after the son explained he had just been drafted to play pro baseball. It’s that maturity and leadership why Wisconsin was 10-for-14 on third down, one of the most vital stats for quarterbacks.
Wilson did throw his first pick of the season midway through the fourth quarter due to a strong inside blitz, causing the ball to be tipped.
But if that’s the only negative that can be pulled from another whitewash, it’s time this intelligent athlete was thrown in the same category as Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.
Ever since he decided to come to Wisconsin a few days before July 4th, we all thought he would be good.
But this good?