Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 11

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
1:00
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We've got some more shuffling at the top in the the offensive player of the year race, which should come down to the wire. Lots of good candidates.

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year


1. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: A huge jump for "Moneyball" this week, after his monster performance against Purdue put him over 1,000 yards for the season. And those 24 touchdowns (25 if you count his passing score) simply can't be overlooked, as he could break the league touchdown record as soon as this week.

2. Penn State running back Silas Redd: He was off this week as the Nittany Lions had a bye. But Redd had a huge October and probably gets less help from the rest of his offense than any other candidate. That deserves recognition.

3. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson: Ho hum. Just a 71.6 completion percentage and a 21-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

4. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead: He falls down from the top spot after a spotty performance against Northwestern in a loss. Was he worn out from a heavy workload? Maybe. But he's had a great season.

5. Iowa running back Marcus Coker: After a slow start to the season, Coker has been a major force. He leads the Big Ten in rushing at 1,101 yards, although he has just 25 more yards than Ball on 49 more carries. If he can lead the Hawkeyes to three more victories, he will move up this list.

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

1. Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still: Nothing new for Still this week after a bye. But no reason to downgrade him, either.

2. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus: Same story as Still for Mercilus. Will he be able to chase down Denard Robinson for a couple more sacks this week?

3. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David: The Northwestern loss wasn't his fault. David had his typical stellar outing: 11 tackles an an interception.

4. Ohio State defensive tackle John Simon: The more I watch Simon, the more impressed I become. He's tied for second in the league in sacks with six and always seems to come up with a big play.

5. Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges: See Still, Devon.

Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year

Your guess on this right now is as good as mine. If the trophy were awarded today, the obvious frontrunner would have to be Joe Paterno, who has his team at a surprising 8-1 and 5-0 in the Big Ten, a full two games clear in the Leaders Division. But would Paterno win a vote for that right now, given all that's happened?

Who else has overachieved enough to earn a coach of the year distinction? It's probably going to come down to who makes the Big Ten championship game. If Ohio State can get there, Luke Fickell will get some serious support for all he battled through. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio could also garner some votes if he can guides the Spartans through what was a difficult schedule to get to Indianapolis.

But right now, much like the Big Ten race itself, this award is anybody's guess.

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