The Big Ten announced its 2012 all-conference teams and most individual awards Monday night, but four more awards have yet to be revealed. Before the winners are announced, we're putting in our endorsements for Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year. We'll agree on some and differ on others.
Here's our endorsement for the league's top offensive player in 2012:
Brian Bennett endorses Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
This race is apparently closer than I thought, since the coaches voted Taylor Martinez, not Miller, as their first-team All-Big Ten quarterback. Martinez definitely built a solid case, leading the league in total yardage with six more yards than Miller (3,316 to 3,310). The Nebraska quarterback also finished with better passing numbers and led the top statistical offense in the conference, while Miller's team finished No. 1 in scoring. So it is close. But Miller was simply spectacular for most of the season, taking over games with his running ability and his flare for the dramatic, back-breaking play. He was fourth in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,271 yards and showed some of the best moves I've ever seen by a quarterback. The sophomore's top attribute, though, is his knack for winning. Ohio State was a team that refused to lose in 2012, and Miller was the main reason why. The deciding factor in this race occurred on Oct. 6 in Columbus. Martinez had 254 total yards, three touchdowns and three costly turnovers. Miller had 313 total yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Ohio State won 63-38. Case closed.
Adam Rittenberg endorses Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
You covered it all, BB. For me it comes down to Miller being exceptional most weeks, having few average performances and only one poor one (against Purdue, in a game he didn't finish because of injury). Martinez really made this a close race with the way he performed in the second half of Big Ten play, but I can't ignore the mistakes he made in Columbus on a night where Miller performed brilliantly in the final three quarters. And when it comes to overall mistakes, Martinez had more interceptions and fumbles than Miller. Both quarterbacks have evolved into big-game performers, but Miller had a slightly bigger impact in my view and had a weaker supporting cast than Martinez, although both men operated behind good offensive lines. Penn State's Matt McGloin also should be considered here, but it's a little tough when he's not nearly the rushing threat both Miller and Martinez are. Ultimately, Miller gets my vote, and I'm excited to see both of these quarterbacks back on the field in Big Ten play in 2013.