Poll: Who will challenge Ball for OPOY?


The Big Ten has had some odd choices for preseason offensive player of the year -- Terrelle Pryor in 2009 -- but this year's pick should be obvious. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball won the award after the 2011 season, and he's back in Madison for his senior year. Ball, one of two Heisman Trophy finalists returning for 2012, should be the preseason pick, end of story. We'll save you the suspense about our preseason player rankings: Ball will be No. 1.

But the preseason pick for OPOY often doesn't mean much. In fact, the preseason pick hasn't won the postseason award since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. Smith, by the way, is the last Big Ten player to win the Heisman Trophy.


Preseason pick: Michigan RB Mike Hart

Winner: Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall


Preseason pick: Ohio State RB Chris Wells

Winner: Iowa RB Shonn Greene


Preseason pick: Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor

Winner: Wisconsin RB John Clay


Preseason pick: Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor

Winner: Michigan QB Denard Robinson


Preseason pick: Michigan QB Denard Robinson

Winner: Wisconsin RB Montee Ball

Ball will be the favorite, but he's far from a shoo-in. There are several players who should challenge the Wisconsin star this season, and we've listed four of them in the accompanying poll. Vote and let us know who you think has the best chance to beat Ball for the offensive player of the year award.

Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead, Penn State running back Silas Redd and Michigan's Robinson are obvious choices. Burkhead and Redd carried their respective offenses as times last season, and both logged more than 240 carries (Burkhead had 283, the second most in the league behind Ball's 307). Burkhead plays for a unit that should see more balance and more weapons develop this season, but he remains the top ball-carrying option. Redd, meanwhile, might once again be Penn State's only viable offensive threat if the quarterback situation doesn't improve.

While Robinson's inclusion undoubtedly will spark some snide remarks, the guy has won the award before and remains one of the nation's most exciting offensive players. He's entering his third season as Michigan's starter, and if he can cut down on interceptions and become a more consistent passer, he'll be in the mix for both league and national awards.

The fourth choice was tough, and I considered several candidates, including Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, Iowa QB James Vandenberg and Michigan RB Fitzgerald Toussaint. Any of them could contend for offensive player of the year honors, as could several others. But I've always thought Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell could be a potential superstar in this league. As Michigan State transitions back to a run-heavy offense behind an improved offensive line, Bell will have a chance to shine.

What say you? Be sure and vote in the poll.