Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 3

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
1:00
PM ET
Now that two games are in the books, it's time to begin our weekly look at how the two major player of the year awards (along with some other honors) are shaping up. Yes, it's ridiculously early, but it's never too early to see where things stand.

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: Miller currently leads the conference in rushing (302 yards) and total offense and has had very little help. He's completing 67 percent of his passes and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Can he keep this up?

2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State: Bell had arguably the single most impressive performance of the season with his 210-yards rushing, 50-touch, one Superman hurdle game against Boise State. He's the league's top running back and the best offensive player on the Big Ten's best team right now.

3. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: Robinson struggled against Alabama, which wasn't unexpected against that defense. He showed how dangerous he is with a 426-yard, four-touchdown day against Air Force. A great Big Ten season could lead him to the title.

4. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: Despite some problems in the UCLA loss, Martinez has improved his passing and will clearly be leaned on heavily in the Huskers' high-scoring offense. He leads the conference in passing yards, which is a stat you probably wouldn't have believed in the preseason.

5. MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota: Believe it or not, Gray leads the conference in passing efficiency, and he's fourth in total offense. He'll have to prove it against much better defenses, but with Montee Ball averaging less than 100 yards per game, the door is open for some other candidates right now.

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

1. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: Short is tied for the league lead in sacks with three and was dominant against Notre Dame. He should be in the thick of this race all year.

2. Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State: Though he gave up one long pass against Boise State, Adams has mostly been brilliant thus far and has forced opposing offenses to avoid his side of the field.

3. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State: Gholston has only one sack and somehow failed to register a tackle against Boise State. But he's been very active and will be a factor in this race all year while helping lead the league's top defense.

4. Travis Howard, CB, Ohio State: Howard is currently tied for the national lead with three interceptions, and while some of that is certainly being in the right place at the right time, he will be hard to ignore if he keeps up that absurd pace.

Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year

1. Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State: The redshirt freshman was touted as a strong pass-rusher and has thus far lived up to that billing with three sacks, tying him for the league lead.

2. Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State: The highly-touted true freshman has gotten a lot of early playing time for the Buckeyes, recording a sack and a pass break-up. He's only going to get better.

3. Joe Bolden, LB, Michigan: The Wolverines are playing a lot of true freshmen right now, and Bolden has become an important part of the defense. He was on the field in the fourth quarter when Michigan was clinging to a six-point lead over Air Force and has 11 tackles on the year.

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