Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 9
By Brian Bennett
Michigan State's win over Wisconsin changed the conversation in the overall Big Ten race. But did it change anything in the individual award races Let's find out:
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson: He didn't have his best day against the Spartans and likely was knocked out of the Heisman race. But Wilson's overall body of work is still enough to earn the top spot for at least another week.
2. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson: Shoelace was No. 2 last week and there was no reason to move him after a bye. A big key will be how he finishes the season, beginning this week against Purdue.
3. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: Despite the loss, Ball racked up another 100-yard day and two more touchdowns against Michigan State. He now leads the Big Ten in rushing and scoring and still is on pace to shatter the league touchdown record.
4. Penn State running back Silas Redd: The biggest mover in our tracker, Redd has been spectacular in posting four-straight 125-plus yard games for the Nittany Lions. He's the third-leading rusher in the league behind Ball and Robinson.
5. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead: Burkhead had another 117 yards against Minnesota last week and just keeps on chugging. He has a statement game opportunity this week against Michigan State.
Dropped out: Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins
On the cusp: Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt; Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg; Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus: The Illini have lost two in a row, but you can't blame Mercilus. He still leads the nation in sacks with 10 and paces the Big Ten with five forced fumbles and 15 tackles for loss.
2. Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still: Northwestern hoped its hurry-up offense would slow down Still last week. Nope. He still managed a sack and two tackles for loss as his wrecking-ball ways continue.
3. Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy: Wisconsin scored 31 points on Michigan State but needed two late touchdowns to do so, and that was nearly 20 points below their average. As always, Worthy was the point man for the Spartans' defensive attack.
4. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David: Just named a Butkus semifinalist, David has been the best player on the Nebraska defense all season long and leads the Huskers with 64 tackles.
5. Ohio State defensive tackle John Simon: The Buckeyes were off last week. Simon gets a chance to strut his stuff against Wisconsin in a prime-time game Saturday.
On the cusp: Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short; Purdue cornerback Ricardon Allen; Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges; Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor.
Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year
1. Brett Maher, Nebraska: Maher has connected on a league-best 13 field goals so far this season, and his three misses have all come from at least 50 yards. He's also terrific on punts and kickoffs.
2. Anthony Fera, Penn State: Fera has shored up what was a terrible kicking game for the Nittany Lions, hitting 11 of 12 tries since he took over field goal duties. The Penn State offense really needed him at times. And like Maher, he gets bonus points for being a great punter as well.
3. Derek Dimke, Illinois: Dimke has made all seven tries this season, and his field goals played a huge role in wins over Arizona State, Western Michigan and Northwestern. He loses points for lack of range -- only one of his field goals has come from beyond 40 yards -- and lack of opportunity, as he has not even attempted a field goal in half his team's eight games.
Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year
1. Cody Webster, Purdue: Webster is averaging 46.6 yards per punt, good for fifth in the FBS.
2. Maher, Nebraska: Maher's punting average of 45.5 yards would rank him 12th nationally, but he is one attempt shy of qualifying.
3. Fera, Penn State: Fera has been a great two-way weapon for the Nittany Lions and averages 43.6 yards per punt.