- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The deciding weeks of the season are upon us, and after one November Saturday, we have new leaders in the races for offensive and defensive player of the year. Let's take a look at where some awards competitions stand:
Graham–George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (Last week: 2): The preseason leader resumes his perch. It will be interesting to see if Miller's missed time in the nonconference season will hold him back for this award. But in league play he has been dynamite, completing 72.8 percent of his passes for 1,108 yards and 13 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. He has run for 328 yards and two scores in five conference games.
2. Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (LW: 3): Abdullah took over the Big Ten rushing lead last week, with 1,108 yards in eight games. He is without a doubt the leader of the Nebraska offense right now.
3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon (LW: 1): Gordon had been No. 1 for several weeks but had only 62 yards on 17 carries at Iowa. That makes two subpar performances in conference play, to go along with his showing at Ohio State. Gordon can still get back on top with a big finish, and the battle for the title of best Big Ten back among him, Abdullah and Ohio State's Carlos Hyde is one to watch down the stretch.
4. Penn State WR Allen Robinson (LW: NR): The Nittany Lions star is second nationally in receiving yards per game (130.4) and went over 1,000 yards for the season on Saturday. He's on pace for a 1,500-yard year and should claim his second straight Big Ten receiver of the year trophy.
Nagurski–Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier (LW: 2): Shazier takes over the lead after a seven-tackle, two-sack performance against Purdue. He is tied for the Big Ten lead with 11 tackles for loss, and it doesn't hurt that the Buckeyes defense is starting to take off.
2. Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun (LW: NR): He's tied with Ohio State's Noah Spence for the Big Ten sacks lead (6.5) and for the lead in TFLs while leading the conference with three fumble recoveries. His pass rushing ability has taken Michigan State's defense to a new level.
3. Wisconsin LB Chris Borland (LW: 1): Borland missed last week's Iowa game with a hamstring injury after sitting out most of the previous game against Illinois. He has had a tremendous season, but missing conference games is costly in a tight battle for top defensive honors.
4. Michigan State LB Denicos Allen (LW: NR): The reigning Walter Camp national defensive player of the week, Allen is tied with Shazier and Calhoun with 11 tackles for loss and has been an integral part of the Spartans' dominating defense.
5. Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard (LW: 3): You might say there are too many Spartans on this list. To which we'd respond: Have you seen that defense?
Dave McClain/Hayes–Schembechler Coach of the Year
1. Ohio State's Urban Meyer: Can Meyer break through and earn a coach of the year award, unlike Jim Tressel? It's pretty hard to argue with 21 straight wins.
2. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio: The Spartans are 8-1 and 5-0 in the Big Ten. Dantonio took some heat early on for his quarterback decisions, but they have worked out quite nicely.
3. Minnesota's Tracy Claeys: Here's an interesting case. Claeys is the interim coach for the Gophers while Jerry Kill is focusing on his epilepsy treatment. The Gophers are 3-1 with a three-game winning streak under Claeys. If the team finishes the year out strong, Claeys might get some support for this award.