The Big Ten once again had a quiet night at the Home Depot College Football awards -- with one notable exception.
Wisconsin senior Montee Ball took home the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back. Ball finished seventh nationally in rushing average (133.1 ypg) with 21 touchdowns, and he eclipsed 100 rush yards in seven of his final eight games (three 200-yard performances). He became the NCAA's all-time touchdowns king by breaking Travis Prentice's mark of 78 and set several other records along the way. Ball holds the NCAA records for total touchdowns (82) and rushing touchdowns (76).
Ball's season didn't quite measure up to 2011, when he was a Heisman Trophy finalist but didn't win the Doak Walker Award (it went to Alabama's Trent Richardson). He faced some adversity after being attacked by a group of men in the preseason and suffering a concussion during non-league play. But no FBS back finished the season better than Ball, who had 702 rush yards and eight touchdowns in his final four games. He turned in a signature performance in the Big Ten championship game, and we endorsed him as the nation's top running back in Sunday's lessons.
Ball, who might have won best dressed Thursday if such an award were given, is the second Big Ten player to win the Doak Walker Award as former Badgers star Ron Dayne took home the hardware in 1999. He's the sixth Big Ten back to win it, the first since Iowa's Shonn Greene in 2008.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller also was up for the Davey O'Brien award (nation's top quarterback), which went to Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. Penn State's Matt Stankiewitch was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy (nation's top center), which went to Alabama's Barrett Jones.