Big Ten: Braylon Edwards
The same thing might be happening with our Big Ten players tournament. Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh entered the tourney as only a No. 3 seed, but he looks like a real threat to win it all. The former Huskers star defensive tackle easily beat No. 6 seed Braylon Edwards, outpacing the ex-Michigan receiving star by a vote of 67 percent to 33 percent. With some incredible on-field performances and the strength of the Nebraska voting bloc, Suh might be the player to beat the rest of the way.
He definitely got most of the support in your comments. Here's a sampling of those:
Ben from Waterloo, Iowa: Total no-brainer; it's Suh. He should be higher than a 3 seed. I can understand why you wouldn't realize this, as he was playing in the Big 12 at the time, perhaps you didn't get to focus on his play. Suh is the best college DT since Warren Sapp and he might even be better than Sapp was. Nebraska's offense that year was pathetic. Suh and company came withing a second of winning the Big 12 title despite the offense's ineptitude. His NFL reputation may have clouded your vision as well--check the tape.
Ali from Omaha, Neb.: Suh is clearly the winner of this first round matchup. Am I a biased Husker fan? Yes. But seriously, remember when Suh sacked Colt McCoy 4.5 times in the 2009 Big 12 Championship? And had 6 tackles for loss? Look up the highlights on YouTube, everyone, because it was epic. He should have won the Heisman. Suh led the team in tackles, intercepted passes, even scored a couple touchdowns when coaches threw him in at fullback. What more can a player do?
Sky F. from Norfolk, Neb.: Biased Nebraska fan here, but I will attempt to remain (somewhat) objective. Go back and review the 2009 Big 12 title game, and the choice in this match up is glaringly obvious. Suh did things at DT that are quite literally impossible to do for the average player. Receivers are a dime a dozen, and they require a somewhat competent quarter back to get them the ball in the first place. Suh did everything he did on his own, usually taking on double teams, and the teams that he faced, particularly Texas, is no slouch along the offensive line. No question about it: Suuuuuuuhhh!!!
Bryan from Chicago: Suh was unstoppable. Period. Besides all the stats you listed, he also had 2 pick-6's in a season, as a defensive lineman! He could take over games, like in Nebraska's come from behind victory over Mizzou when Suh was put in the Heisman spotlight. Or, if the opponent really wanted to control Suh, like Baylor tried when they constantly triple teamed him, it allowed Crick to set the school record for sacks. So even when he wasn't putting up mind boggling numbers, he was still dominating games.
Jon from Oshkosh, Wis.: I have to give Braylon Edwards the vote over Suh for the simple reason that Edwards dominated his position and other teams for multiple years. Braylon was a feared receiver his entire career, while Suh didn't come on to the scene until the last two seasons of his career. Or maybe I just didn't hear about him because he wasn't in my Big Ten radar. Or maybe it is because I am a Packer Fan...
Craig from Farmington Hills, Mich.: Simple, Edwards vs. MSU in OT. How many games did Suh just say, "guys, this game's on me?" How many COULD he? No argument Suh did great things to help his team win games -- Edwards simply won games.
JD Foster from Washington DC: Suh was the most dominant defensive player of his generation. His 4.5 sack performance against Texas in the 09 title game may have been the only time I've seen one defensive player control an entire game. Imagine if he was on the field with the current Nebraska offense... Us Huskers can only dream...
Today we're tipping off the third of four first-round matchups between Big Ten standouts from the past 15 seasons. 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.
No. 3 seed Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska DT, 2006-09) vs. No. 6 seed Braylon Edwards (Michigan WR, 2001-04)
It's a battle of contrasting styles here, as one of the most dominating interior linemen of the past decade squares off against a guy who terrorized Big Ten secondaries most of his career.
Suh was very nearly unblockable in 2009, recording 85 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and 10 pass breakups -- simply amazing numbers for a defensive tackle. He won the AP Player of the Year award for that season, as well as the Bednarik and Rotary Lombardi awards and the Nagurski and Outland trophies. He was also a Heisman finalist, which is nearly unheard of for any kind of lineman. He also led Nebraska in tackles in 2008. The Huskers have been searching for a defensive lineman of his caliber since he left Lincoln, but really, guys like him come around maybe once in a generation.
Edwards was the first receiver in Big Ten history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and just the third to do so in FBS history, and remember, this was before the spread offense inflated everybody's offensive stats. He holds just about every Michigan receiving record and had 97 catches for 1,330 yards as a senior. His 39 career touchdown receptions remain the most in Big Ten history. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2004 as well as Big Ten offensive player of the year honors. He finished his career in style with three touchdown catches in the Rose Bowl against Texas.
It's your turn to vote on this showdown of superstars on offense and defense. Send your rationale here and we'll include some of the best responses in our post announcing who made it to the semifinals.
March Madness is upon us, and it is glorious.
To get in the spirit, we're once again putting our own spin on the brackets to have a little fun (and, naturally, stir the pot). If you recall last year, we staged the Big Ten champions tournament, which featured an eight-team field of championship teams from the previous 15 years. Teams were seeded and faced off against one another, and you voted on who should advance. Nebraska's 1997 team prevailed as the champion of champions.
This year, the field will include eight Big Ten players from the past 15 years (Nebraska's representative played in the Big 12, but like last year, we can't exclude the Huskers from the fun). As Brian Bennett pointed out last year, 15 years gives us a time frame that is fairly fresh in our memories. It's difficult enough to identify eight representatives for this list, and we don't want to start comparing players from completely different eras. We realize the game has changed in the past 15 years, but not as much as it has in the past 40. So we're looking at players from 1998-2012.
It's impossible to come up with a list that pleases everyone, and while we're ready for your abuse, we had to put some parameters on the selections. For starters, we want to involve as many fan bases as we can, so we've capped the selections at one per program. Although four programs won't be represented, it's better than six or seven.
Also, to narrow things down, a selection must be a winner of the Silver Football as Big Ten MVP or win at least one major national award (Heisman, Maxwell, Walter Camp, Bednarik, Biletnikoff, Butkus, Rotary-Lombardi, Mackey, Outland, Rimington, Thorpe, Doak Walker). Take issue with this if you'd like, but we had to reduce the candidate pool. We could forever debate Braylon Edwards vs. Jake Long as Michigan's representative, but the bottom line is Edwards won Big Ten MVP and the Biletnikoff Award in 2004. Long, as great as he was, never won the Outland Trophy.
We also looked for representatives who had special/iconic careers, so one-year stars like Iowa RB Shonn Greene (2008) weren't in the mix. And while a candidate had to play at least one season during the 15-year window, multiple seasons was a plus.
OK, long-winded intro over.
We'll get started later today with the matchups and polls, but now it's finally time to introduce the field (in alphabetical order):
Drew Brees, QB, Purdue, 1997-2000: Maxwell Award winner and Big Ten MVP in 2000, while finishing third in Heisman Trophy voting; Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 1998 (co); All-Big Ten selection from 1998-2000; runner-up for Maxwell Award in 1999; Big Ten career leader in passing attempts (1,678), passing completions (1,026), passing yards (11,792), passing touchdowns (90) and total offense (12,692); owns NCAA record for pass attempts in a game (83) and tied for third in single-game completions (55).
Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin 1996-99: Won Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Doak Walker Ward, Big Ten MVP and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1999; consensus All-American in 1999 and first-team All-Big Ten in 1996, 1998 and 1999; Set NCAA career rushing record with 6,397 yards (not including bowl games) and ranks sixth in both career rushing touchdowns (63) and rushing yards per game (148.8); became just the fourth player in FBS history to eclipse 1,000 rush yards in all four seasons; first player to lead the Big Ten in rushing for three consecutive seasons; only Big Ten player to win back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP awards (1999 and 2000); left Wisconsin with 48 team records and had his No. 33 retired in 2007.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan, 2001-04: Big Ten MVP, Biletnikoff Award winner, unanimous consensus first-team All-American and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2004; only wide receiver in Big Ten history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons; first-team All-Big Ten in 2003 and 2004; holds Big Ten record for career touchdown receptions (39), ranks fourth in career receiving yards (3,541) and fifth in career receptions (97); set Michigan records for career receptions (252), receiving yards and receiving touchdowns; last player to wear the coveted No. 1 jersey for the Wolverines.
Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa, 2000-03: Won the Outland Trophy in 2003 and earned consensus first-team All-America honors; named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2003; earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2002 and 2003; started final 44 games of his career and didn't allow a sack in 36 straight games for the Hawkeyes.
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State, 2003-06: Became just the second player to win the Bednarik Award (nation's top defender) in consecutive seasons, doing so in 2005 and 2006; won the Butkus Award in 2005 and was a finalist for the Butkus in 2006 and twice for the Rotary Lombardi Award; first-team All-American in 2005 and 2006; started the final 37 games of his career and became the first Nittany Lions player to lead the team in tackles three times and to post three 100-tackle seasons; was a two-time captain.
Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State, 2003-06: Won Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Big Ten MVP, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2006; unanimous consensus first-team All-American in 2006 and also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors that year; finished fourth and seventh nationally in pass efficiency in 2005 and 2006, respectively; set a team record with 30 touchdown passes in 2006, finished with 54 touchdown strikes against only 13 interceptions and led Ohio State to consecutive BCS bowl appearances (the latter in the national title game).
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska, 2006-09: Named AP Player of the Year in 2009 and also won Bednarik Award, Rotary Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy; Heisman Trophy finalist (finished fourth in voting, first defensive tackle invited to New York since Warren Sapp in 1994); named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year; consensus first-team All-American in 2009; first-team All-Big 12 in 2008; led Nebraska in tackles in his final two seasons, racking up 43 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks; his 57 career tackles for loss ranks second in team history.
- Some notes from around the Leaders Division here and here and here.
- Jim Tressel still sees no leader in Ohio State's race to fill in for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Tim May and Bill Rabinowitz write in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Speaking of quarterback competitions, Penn State is still undecided on its situation under center, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Joe Paterno has seen it all, and he doesn't think college football's recent troubles are the end of the world, Lee Barfknecht writes in the Omaha World-Herald.
- Check out the new look for Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, Jon Nyatawa writes in the Omaha World-Herald. The Huskers will keep things very basic in their spring game.
- In case you missed it, I check in with Denard Robinson about why he stayed at Michigan. Stephen Hopkins is standing out among the Wolverines' running backs, annarbor.com's Pete Bigelow writes. Former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards weighs in on the celebrated No. 1 jersey, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
- Get this: Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen nearly stopped playing football to become a mortician, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin's deputy AD leaves for the top job at Miami.
- Several good Michigan State spring tidbits from the Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode.
- Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker keeps on fighting -- and coaching, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. More tidbits from Iowa's two coordinators.
- Purdue's decision to bring back old Purdue Pete is greeted warmly, Curt Slyder writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Indiana coach Kevin Wilson talks about Lil' Wayne, and I simply have to link it.
- In case you missed it, Northwestern agreed to a home-and-home series with Notre Dame. Some more Wildcats spring football notes from NUSports.com's Skip Myslenski.
- Minnesota's running back race heats up this spring, Marcus Fuller writes in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
- Illinois has seen its talent blossom this spring, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune. Illini receiver Ryan Lankford is trying his leg as a punter this spring, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
MAXWELL AWARD (nation's most outstanding player)
Big Ten players on the watch list ...
- Wisconsin RB John Clay
- Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
- Penn State RB Evan Royster
- Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
- Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien
Comment: The watch list only includes quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, so this looks about right for the Big Ten. I'd still like to see defenders like Greg Jones, Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward gain consideration for national Player of the Year awards like this one.
BEDNARIK AWARD (nation's top defensive player)
Big Ten players on the watch list ...
- Wisconsin LB Chris Borland
- Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
- Penn State DE Jack Crawford
- Ohio State DL Cameron Heyward
- Ohio State LB Ross Homan
- Michigan State LB Greg Jones
- Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
- Iowa S Tyler Sash
- Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt
Comment: No complaints here. Jones, Kerrigan, Clayborn and Sash all were first-team All-Big Ten selections a year ago, while Heyward and Homan certainly could have been. Borland is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while both Crawford and Watt boast a ton of potential and should blossom this fall.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD (nation's top wide receiver)
Big Ten players on the watch list ...
- Indiana's Tandon Doss
- Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos
- Ohio State's DeVier Posey
- Michigan's Roy Roundtree
- Purdue's Keith Smith
- Wisconsin's Nick Toon
Comment: I would have added Iowa's Marvin McNutt for sure and possibly Ohio State's Dane Sanzenbacher to the list. Don't be surprised if a Michigan State wide receiver -- Keshawn Martin or Keith Nichol -- earns midseason consideration for the award.
All three awards select semifinalists in early or mid-November. The winners will be announced Dec. 9 on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show.
- Lou Holtz has changed his mind: Notre Dame should join the Big Ten, Sid Hartman writes in the Star Tribune.
- Big Ten athletic directors don't see divisions splitting along geographical lines, Rich Kaipust writes in the Omaha World-Herald.
- Sorting out the Big Ten divisions isn't easy, Brian Cook writes in The Sporting Blog.
- Ohio State safety Tyler Moeller talks about being cleared for full contact and his pursuit of a sixth year of eligibility, Tim May and Ken Gordon write in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez talks about Nebraska, the Demar Dorsey situation and other topics, annarbor.com's Dave Birkett writes. Former Michigan star Braylon Edwards says Rodriguez needs to "make it work" in 2010, Vincent Goodwill writes in The Detroit News.
- Who will replace the great Norm Parker when he chooses to step down as Iowa's D-coordinator? The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette's Marc Morehouse examines the candidates.
- Purdue's president likes the addition of Nebraska in the Big Ten, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Indiana adds two more defenders to its 2011 recruiting class.
- Michigan State's coaching staff has a sizable presence at the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp this week, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press.
Because there were so many deserving players left off the list, I decided to put together an all-decade team to recognize some of the other standouts in the Big Ten from 2000-09. I made the offensive line a bit more general to acknowledge the best players there.
Unlike the top 10, I was a bit more lenient about players who had only one outstanding season during this decade.
QB: Troy Smith, Ohio State
RB: Mike Hart, Michigan
RB: Larry Johnson, Penn State
WR: Braylon Edwards, Michigan
WR: Charles Rogers, Michigan State
TE: Dallas Clark, Iowa
C: Greg Eslinger, Minnesota
OL: Joe Thomas, Wisconsin
OL: Robert Gallery, Iowa
OL: Jake Long, Michigan
OL: Eric Steinbach, Iowa
DE: LaMarr Woodley, Michigan
DT: Wendell Bryant, Wisconsin
DT: Jared Odrick, Penn State
DE: Tamba Hali, Penn State
LB: Paul Posluzsny, Penn State
LB: A.J. Hawk, Ohio Sate
LB: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
CB: Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin
CB: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
S: Bob Sanders, Iowa
S: Mike Doss, Ohio State
K: Mike Nugent, Ohio State
P: Travis Dorsch, Purdue
Returners: Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State and Steve Breaston, Michigan
What makes a great game? Good teams, good players, lots at stake and lots of drama, particularly in the closing minutes.
I put a special emphasis on games that helped to decide Big Ten championships, bowl championships and national championships.
Without further ado ...
1. Ohio State vs. Miami, 2003 Fiesta Bowl: When the national championship game goes to two overtimes and a Big Ten team wins, it'll be at the top of the list. Ohio State nearly won in regulation, nearly lost in the first overtime and then finally prevailed 31-24 against a talent-stocked Miami team that had won 34 consecutive games.
2. Michigan at Ohio State, 2006: This game had it all: No. 1 vs. No. 2, the sport's top rivalry, national championship implications, unparalleled buildup, the drama of Bo Schembechler's death a day before the game. Ohio State and Michigan combined for 81 points before the Buckeyes prevailed to reach the title game.
3. Michigan at Northwestern, 2000: As regular-season games go, this is about the best you can find. The teams combined for 105 points and 1,189 yards of offense in a contest that saw tons of plot twists. Star running backs Damien Anderson and Anthony Thomas both committed an error in the closing minutes -- dropped touchdown for Anderson, lost fumble for Thomas -- before Northwestern emerged with a 54-51 win. Both teams went on to share the Big Ten title with Purdue.
4. Texas vs. Michigan, 2005 Rose Bowl: It didn't go the Big Ten's way in the end, but Michigan and Texas certainly gave us a game to remember. The Wolverines received great play from quarterback Chad Henne and wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Steve Breaston, but Vince Young proved to be too much as Texas won 38-37 on a field goal as time expired.
5. Iowa at Ohio State, 2009: This game essentially decided the Big Ten championship, as the teams met with a Rose Bowl berth at stake. Iowa came in as a major underdog after losing starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi to injury the previous week against Northwestern. Redshirt freshman James Vandenberg displayed incredible poise in his first career start, but Ohio State eventually prevailed in overtime after a 39-yard field goal from backup kicker Devin Barclay, a 26-year-old former Major League Soccer player.
6. Iowa vs. LSU, 2005 Capital One Bowl: You'll never see a more exciting end to a bowl game, and the first 59 plus minutes weren't bad, either. Iowa built a 24-12 fourth-quarter lead behind quarterback Drew Tate, only to watch it disappear down the stretch. It set the stage for Tate's 56-yard touchdown strike to Warren Halloway as time expired as Iowa won 30-25.
7. Michigan State at Michigan, 2004: Michigan State's losing streak at the Big House appeared over as the Spartans led 27-10 with 8:43 left. But Michigan rallied to tie the game as Braylon Edwards hauled in two touchdowns from Chad Henne. Henne and Edwards hooked up again in the third overtime as Michigan won 45-37 and went on to share the Big Ten title with Iowa.
8. Penn State vs. Florida State, 2006 Orange Bowl: Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden generated tons of buildup before kickoff, and the game itself didn't disappoint. It was hardly a masterpiece on either side, but the game generated plenty of excitement as the teams went to three overtimes before Penn State won 26-23 on a Kevin Kelly field goal.
9. Michigan at Minnesota, 2003: Michigan's Big Ten title in 2003 could be directly linked to the greatest comeback in team history against Minnesota at the Metrodome. The Wolverines trailed 28-7 in the third quarter before rallying to win 38-35 on a Garrett Rivas field goal in the final minute. Minnesota was 6-0 before the loss.
10. Penn State at Iowa, 2008: Penn State came to Iowa City with national title aspirations and jumped ahead of Iowa 23-14 late in the third quarter. But Ricky Stanzi stepped up in the fourth quarter and led a dramatic comeback that ended with Daniel Murray's field goal. It marked Penn State's only loss, though the Lions still won a Big Ten title and went to the Rose Bowl.
We saw outstanding one-year performances from players like Brad Banks (2002), Larry Johnson (2002), James Hardy (2007) and Shonn Greene (2008), and impressive four-year career efforts from Paul Posluszny, James Laurinaitis, Mike Hart, Javon Ringer, Taylor Stubblefield and others.
Believe me, it wasn't easy to get this list down to 10 players, but here goes.
I put more weight on players who had multiple outstanding seasons. Also, players who had most of their production in the 1990s didn't make the cut.
1. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State: The league's lone Heisman Trophy winner tops the list. Smith took home the Heisman, the Walter Camp and the Big Ten MVP awards in 2006. He also led Ohio State to a Fiesta Bowl championship following the 2005 season.
2. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan: The 2004 Biletnikoff Award winner earned consensus All-America honors that year, completing a terrific four-year run in Ann Arbor. Edwards still holds the Big Ten record for career touchdown receptions with 39, two more than fellow Wolverine Anthony Carter.
3. A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State: Hawk was the face of a ferocious Buckeyes defense during the mid part of the decade. The two-time All-American (unanimous in 2005) won the Rotary Lombardi Award and helped Ohio State to a Fiesta Bowl victory.
4. Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin: The Thomas-Jake Long debate is a good one, but I'm giving the edge to Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy winner. Thomas anchored several powerful Wisconsin offensive lines, earned consensus All-America honors in 2006 and twice made the All-Big Ten squad.
5. Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State: Posluszny is one of only two Big Ten players to win the Bednarik Award two times. He also took home the Butkus Award in 2005 and helped restore Penn State after the program had slipped from 2000-04.
6. James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State: Laurinaitis was quite possibly the most decorated Big Ten player of the decade on either side of the ball. He joined select company at Ohio State in earning All-America honors three times (unanimous in 2007). Laurinaitis won the Butkus and Nagurski awards and twice earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.
7. Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota: Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III shared the rushing load, but Eslinger was the mainstay who created rushing lanes no matter who had the ball. The 2005 Rimington Trophy winner was Minnesota's only three-time All-Big Ten selection this decade.
8. Bob Sanders, S, Iowa: No player meant more to Iowa's renaissance this decade than Sanders, the team's only three-time All-Big Ten selection in the aughts. Nicknamed "The Hitman," Sanders epitomized a program that got the most from its players for the majority of the decade.
9. Mike Hart, RB, Michigan: We witnessed lot of great one-year performances from Big Ten running backs, but Hart was one of the league's few mainstays this decade. Despite being plagued by injuries as a sophomore, Hart finished fourth on the Big Ten's all-time rushing list (5,040 yards) and had 28 career 100-yard rushing games.
10. Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana: Randle El brought a new brand of football to the Big Ten and had a record-setting career despite never reaching a bowl game. The dual-threat star won Big Ten MVP honors in 2001 and ranks fourth on the league's career total offense list with 11,364 yards.
Also considered: Michigan T Jake Long, Michigan State WR Charles Rogers, Michigan State RB Javon Ringer, Iowa QB Brad Banks, Iowa T Robert Gallery, Purdue WR Taylor Stubblefield, Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr., Michigan DE LaMarr Woodley, Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall, Penn State QB Michael Robinson, Penn State RB Larry Johnson, Purdue WR Dorien Bryant, Purdue WR John Standeford, Ohio State S Mike Doss, Wisconsin DE Erasmus James, Iowa RB Shonn Greene, Northwestern QB Brett Basanez, Illinois LB J Leman, Penn State LB Dan Connor.
- Iowa needs to seize the opportunity against Georgia Tech because BCS bowls don't come every year, Mike Hlas writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. The Hawkeyes will have a tough time simulating Tech's triple option, Heather Dinich writes.
- Hawkeyes linebacker A.J. Edds might have a future in politics when he's done playing, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- There's no guarantee that Kevin Newsome will be Penn State's starting quarterback in 2010, Derek Levarse writes in the Times Leader. The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi takes city officials to task for the lousy field conditions in the Cap One Bowl.
- Wisconsin secondary coach Kerry Cooks likely is headed to Notre Dame, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Badgers add another solid recruit at running back, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
- Michigan State's concerns will spill into the offseason, Eric Lacy writes in The Detroit News.
- Former Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards apparently isn't a Rich Rodriguez fan, Scott Bell writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- For Ohio State's returning players, the Rose Bowl win was just the beginning, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The winner will be announced Tuesday (Big Ten Network, 11 p.m. ET). Big Ten coaches vote on the award, which went to Iowa running back Shonn Greene last season.
Of these three candidates, I'd definitely vote for Graham. Though Clark and Clay both had good seasons, the Big Ten unquestionably was a defense-oriented league this fall. While I'm a bit surprised not to see Michigan State's Greg Jones or Penn State's Jared Odrick -- the Big Ten's co-Defensive Players of the Year -- named as finalists, Graham would be a very deserving recipient after leading the nation with 26 tackles for loss.
Here's a list of Silver Football winners this decade (note: a defensive player hasn't won since Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, the Heisman Trophy recipient, in 1997).
2008: Iowa RB Shonn Greene
2007: Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall
2006: Ohio State QB Troy Smith
2005: Penn State QB Michael Robinson
2004: Michigan WR Braylon Edwards
2003: Michigan RB Chris Perry
2002: Iowa QB Brad Banks
2001: Indiana QB Antwaan Randle El
2000: Purdue QB Drew Brees
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
RANTOUL, Ill. -- I'm about to head out to the field to watch Illinois' practice. Check back later for a few practice observations and more from Camp Rantoul.
But first, your latest preseason watch update.
To the surprise of no one, Minnesota's Eric Decker and Illinois' Arrelious Benn were named to the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top wide receiver. Decker, who led the Big Ten in receiving yards last year, was a semifinalist for the award in 2008. Both Decker and Benn are All-America candidates.
Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga leads a group of four Big Ten players named to the Outland Trophy watch list. Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick, Penn State center Stefen Wisniewski and Illinois guard Jon Asamoah also were named to the list.
Bulaga, a junior, could be one of the nation's premier left tackles this year and a candidate to enter the NFL draft in 2010. Odrick also seems like a viable candidate for the award, which last went to a defensive player in 2007 (LSU's Glenn Dorsey).
Four Big Ten players have won the Biletnikoff Award, most recently Michigan's Braylon Edwards in 2004. Three Big Ten linemen have captured the Outland Trophy this decade: Wisconsin's Joe Thomas (2006), Minnesota's Greg Eslinger (2005) and Iowa's Robert Gallery (2003).
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few lunchtime links I'm contributing today for my fellow Midwesterner, Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg.
Former Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards tells the Detroit Free Press says he's "fine" with Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez nearly awarding the No. 1 jersey that Edwards had endowed several years earlier.
Lindsay Willhite of Athlon Sports writes that Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes that he will be entrenched as the Wildcats' coach for many years.
Jim Tressel tells the Columbus Dispatch's Tim May about sleeping in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces during his trip with other football coaches earlier this month to various military installations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The Lansing State Journal's Dan Kilbridge analyzes why heralded quarterback prospect Joe Boisture changed his commitment from Boston College to Michigan State.
Mike Dyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes about the booming proliferation of Web sites devoted to recruiting.
Even with Terrelle Pryor set as Ohio State's quarterback, the Buckeyes still are actively looking for quarterbacks, Steve Hemmelgarn of the Parkersburg (W. Va.) News and Sentinel reports.
Despite Iowa's 26 arrests or citations on alcohol-related charges since mid-April 2007, Iowa associate athletic director Fred Mims tells Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette that the incidents are "not an epidemic in any sense."
A "Who's Who" of Big Ten coaches, including Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Penn State assistant Jay Paterno are visiting Youngstown, Ohio, the last several days. The Tulsa World's Dave Sittler reports those coaches are in town for a bocce tournament and coaching clinic Monday at Cardinal Mooney High School, where they will provide on-the-field instruction and lectures for high school players in the area.
The Big Ten Network's Gerry DiNardo tells the Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis that Penn State will win the conference this season.
Penn State has added an oral commitment from mammoth 6-foot-4, 302-pound guard DaQuan "DaDa" Jones of Johnson City, N.Y., Phillip Cmor of the Altoona Mirror reports. Jones, the Nittany Lions' 10th 2010 commitment, is projected as a defensive tackle when he arrives at college.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Rich Rodriguez is giving Michigan football a makeover, one that many feel is long overdue. But before looking ahead to 2008, let's take a quick look back at the Wolverines under Lloyd Carr. The Detroit Free Press has a photo gallery showing the All-Lloyd Carr team, standout players for the Wolverines between 1995-2007. There are also galleries of Michigan's 1997 national championship season and Carr's retirement ceremony.
The All-Lloyd list features several school record holders, including wide receiver Braylon Edwards, running back Mike Hart and linebacker Jarrett Irons. I was a little surprised neither Chad Henne nor Brian Griese made the list, but otherwise it looks fine. Who do you think they should have included?
Flipping through the gallery this morning, I had forgotten how many standout offensive linemen Michigan produced under Carr. I also came away with the same question many Michigan fans had during the last few years: How did Carr win only one national championship with this talent? It will be interesting to see how Carr's legacy is viewed 20 or 30 years from now. His coaching record (122-40) was tremendous, as were the five Big Ten titles his teams captured, but the lack of bowl wins and his record against Ohio State also stand out.