Earlier today, I introduced the Big Ten players tournament, which includes eight top college players from the past 15 years and asks you, the reader, to name the best. As a reminder, each Big Ten member is limited to one entry, and candidates must either have won Big Ten MVP honors or a major national award.
Voting in the first matchup of the first round will take place until 9 a.m. ET Wednesday.
Let's get to the matchup ...
No. 1 seed Ron Dayne (Wisconsin RB, 1996-99) vs. No. 8 seed Robert Gallery (Iowa LT, 2000-03)
These were two of the biggest, baddest men at the respective positions in recent college football history.
Dayne certainly needs no introduction after winning the 1999 Heisman Trophy along with a host of other awards (Maxwell, Walter Camp, Doak Walker, Big Ten MVP) as he capped an unforgettable career at Wisconsin. His career rushing total of 6,397 yards (not including bowl games) still stands as the NCAA record, one we likely won't see broken any time soon. The Great Dayne began his Wisconsin career by rushing for 1,863 yards as a freshman in 1996. He became just the fourth player in NCAA history to eclipse 1,000 rush yards in all four seasons, and he was the first player to lead the Big Ten in rushing three times (1996, 1998, 1999).
Four Big Ten offensive linemen have claimed the Outland Trophy in the past 15 years, but Gallery might have been the most dominant. He started his final 38 collegiate games at left tackle, not allowing a sack in his last 36 contests. After switching from tight end to tackle in 2001, Gallery became the linchpin of an offensive line that helped Iowa record back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2002 and 2003 and claim a share of the Big Ten title (2002) for the first time since 1990. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2002 and 2003, Big Ten offensive lineman of the year honors in 2003 and consensus first-team All-America honors in 2003.
It's your turn to vote on the first-round matchup. Also, send your rationale to me and I'll include some of the best responses in a post announcing who advances to the semifinals.