The case for Russell Wilson

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Pass Efficiency
1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 201.6
2. Case Keenum, Houston 193.4
3. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 188.6
4. Kellen Moore, Boise State 177.2
5. Andrew Luck, Stanford 169.0
8. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 164.2
15. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 155.1
17. Matt Barkley, USC 152.5

Completion Percentage

1. Case Keenum, Houston 74.2
2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 74.2
3. Kellen Moore, Boise State 74.1
4. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 73.4
5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 73.1
7. Andrew Luck, Stanford 70.6
19. Matt Barkley, USC 66.8
27. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 64.6

Yards Per Attempt

1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 11.1
2. Case Keenum, Houston 10.5
3. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 10.2
11. Andrew Luck, Stanford 8.6
12. Kellen Moore, Boise State 8.6
14. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 8.5
15. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 8.5
49. Matt Barkley, USC 7.5

Yards Per Completion (Min. 100 Comp.)

1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 15.1
3. Case Keenum, Houston 14.2
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 13.8
16. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 13.2
38. Andrew Luck, Stanford 12.2
53. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 11.6
54. Kellen Moore, Boise State 11.6
64. Matt Barkley, USC 11.3

Yards Per Play (Total Offense)

1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 9.9
2. Case Keenum, Houston 9.7
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 8.5
5. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 8.2
7. Andrew Luck, Stanford 8.2
8. Kellen Moore, Boise State 8.1
9. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 8.0
23. Matt Barkley, USC 7.1

TD Percentage (TDs/Attempt)

1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 11.5%
3. Kellen Moore, Boise State 10.4%
5. Case Keenum, Houston 9.8%
6. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 9.6%
7. Andrew Luck, Stanford 9.3%
14. Matt Barkley, USC 7.8%
19. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 7.2%
21. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 7.1%

TD-INT Ratio (Min. 20 TDs)

1. Case Keenum, Houston 37-3 (12.3)
2. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin 25-3 (8.3)
3. Kellen Moore, Boise State 31-5 (6.2)
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor 29-5 (5.8)
6. Matt Barkley, USC 29-6 (4.8)
10. Andrew Luck, Stanford 29-7 (4.1)
15. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 31-9 (3.4)
19. Landry Jones, Oklahoma 28-9 (3.1)

Average Rank of Defenses Faced
(FBS Only - Total Defense)
-- Matt Barkley, USC
65
  Games left: #63 Oregon, #87 UCLA
-- Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
66
  Games left: #9 Illinois, #8 Penn State
-- Kellen Moore, Boise State
68
  Games left: #105 Wyoming, #117 New Mexico
-- Landry Jones, Oklahoma
77
  Games left: #110 Baylor, #91 Iowa State,
  #101 Oklahoma State
-- Andrew Luck, Stanford
83
  Games left: #16 California, #36 Notre Dame
-- Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
85
  Games left: #91 Iowa State, #46 Oklahoma
-- Robert Griffin III, Baylor
89
  Games left: #46 Oklahoma, #113 Texas Tech,
  #14 Texas
-- Case Keenum, Houston
91
  Games left: #33 SMU and #79 Tulsa
It started with a bang. On national TV, the opening night of the college football season, Russell Wilson burst onto the national scene by doing just about everything right in his Badger debut, a 51-17 win over UNLV. The buzz was instantaneous.

He showed up on the front pages of ESPN.com, SI.com and Yahoo.com, among others. Wilson and the Badgers breezed through the rest of the non-conference schedule, UW's offense putting up huge numbers with Wilson directing it all.

At the beginning of October, the Badgers were 4-0, ranked seventh in the country and Wilson and his unique story were making national headlines. The eyes of the college football world descended upon Madison that first weekend of October for No. 8 Nebraska's first-ever Big Ten game. ESPN College GameDay was there and the game was on primetime on ABC.

Wilson responded with probably his best game up to that point, starting with his opening pass when he sidestepped an unblocked Jared Crick and uncorked a 21-yard completion to Jared Abbrederis to convert a third down. He finished the game 14-of-20 for 255 yards and two TDs while also running for 32 yards and another score as the Badgers rolled to a 48-17 win.

The next week, Wilson was at or near the top of every Heisman Watch. RussellManiaXVI was launched and picking up steam. A bye week was followed by a rout of Indiana, in which Wilson CAUGHT a TD pass that made all the highlight shows. Things were good, especially with two primetime showcase games on the horizon.

But RussellMania hit an unexpected bump. Things started out well enough, as the Badgers dominated the first quarter and jumped out to 14-0 lead at Michigan State. A disastrous second quarter put the Badgers in a hole, one that Wilson nearly pulled them out of. Down 31-17 with less than 10 minutes left in the game, he ran for a TD and threw for another as UW tied the game with 1:26 left. I think we all remember what happened next.

The next week, at Ohio State, a familiar script played out. Wisconsin jumped out to a first-half lead, Ohio State dominated the third quarter and Wilson led a furious comeback. This time, he threw two TD passes and added a 2-point conversion in the final four minutes to give the Badgers a 3-point lead. Once again, I think we all know how the game ended.

His fourth quarter numbers in those two games: 10-of-19 for 173 yards, three TDs and one interception (pass efficiency of 170.7). That pass efficiency would rank fifth in the country (ahead of Luck, Weeden, Jones and Barkley). Add to that a rushing TD and a completed two-point conversion pass.

As you can guess, the two losses not only dropped the Badgers down the national polls but also derailed RussellMania. Fair or not, many of the national awards, chief among them the Heisman Trophy, have a lot to do with which teams win games. I've been around long enough to understand that. I also know that if we had held on to win the Ohio State game, Wilson would have been hailed for leading an unbelievable comeback and been talked about with all the other frontrunners.

And that's the reason for this blog. I realize that this year's quarterback class is one of the best in recent years. Each week it seems a new QB pushes himself into the national spotlight with an outstanding performance.

After 11 weeks, though, it seems as though a group has separated itself at the top. The QBs who are most often discussed are Wilson, Andrew Luck (Stanford), Kellen Moore (Boise State), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State), Case Keenum (Houston), Matt Barkley (USC) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor). It's a terrific QB class and is seems as though each on has "won" the Heisman at some point or another this year.

The thing that I think separates Wilson from the others is his efficiency. He ranks 81st in the country in pass attempts. While the other seven QBs mentioned above all throw the ball at least 31 times a game, Wilson is averaging 21.8 pass attempts per game. So in order to be successful, the emphasis at Wisconsin is placed on efficiency at the QB position. And Wilson has taken the word to a whole different level this season.

He leads the country and is on pace to break the NCAA record in pass efficiency. With yesterday's performance at Minnesota, that number is at an other-worldly 201.6. He is also on pace to break the NCAA records for yards per attempt and yards per play. His yards per completion are also the best in the nation and nearly a full yard better than Keenum, who is second. Wilson is on pace to become only the fourth QB in Big Ten history to throw at least 30 TD passes in a season despite only attempting 21.8 passes a game.

The quality of defenses Russell has faced also measures up favorably against the other QBs. Wisconsin has played five teams that are ranked among the top 70 in total defense. That's compared to just one for Baylor, two for Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Houston (none higher than 57), and three for Boise State and Stanford (none ranked higher than 49). USC and Barkley have also faced five teams among the top 70.

There's still two games left and for the Badgers and that means facing two defenses ranked in the national top 10. My hope is that the folks who vote for the national awards take all the numbers (wins and losses included) into consideration and let the season play out before leaving Wilson off any ballot he may be deserving of.