The Big Ten will announce its annual awards Monday and Tuesday night. But, until that time, we’re taking one last crack at our weekly awards tracker.
It hasn’t changed much this season, but there was some movement toward the bottom this week. Take a look:
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (6 first-place votes): Elliott was still our unanimous pick last week. So there was absolutely no doubt he was going to remain No. 1 this week -- especially after a season-high 30 carries for 214 yards against Michigan. He now has five career 200-yard rushing games, which ties him with Eddie George for the most in Buckeyes history.
2. Michigan State QB Connor Cook: Despite being a game-time decision Saturday, the senior signal-caller didn’t skip a beat against Penn State. He finished 19-of-26 passing for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s been incredibly efficient this season, throwing just four picks to 24 TDs.
3. Iowa QB C.J. Beathard: He doesn’t have the most impressive numbers in the Big Ten, but he certainly has all the intangibles. Beathard still has yet to lose a game as a starter, and he always seems to step up when the Hawkeyes need him most. He’s thrown 14 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
4. Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld: Is he the most underrated passer in the Big Ten? His stats are similar to Cook’s – 3,184 yards, 24 touchdowns, five interceptions – but he just doesn’t get as much credit playing for a 6-6 team. Still, thanks to Sudfeld, the Hoosiers boast a top-20 offense.
5. Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge: Officially, he leads the conference in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,158), and he’s second in receiving touchdowns (7). Unofficially, he also leads the Big Ten in insane catches and plays worthy of being in the SportsCenter Top 10. (Like this and this.)
Also receiving votes: Indiana RB Jordan Howard
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Penn State DE Carl Nassib (5 first-place votes): Sure, he’s basically been out the last two weeks. But he still leads the nation in both sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6), and he’s second in the country in tackles for loss (19.5). He’s also a finalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi awards, despite the fact his snap count has been a lot less than others.
2. Wisconsin LB Joe Schobert: Statistically, the Badgers boast the best defense in the Big Ten -- and you don’t have to look much further than Schobert to see why. He leads his team in sacks (9), tackles for loss (18.5), forced fumbles (5) and quarterback hurries (14). He’s also second in tackles (76).
T-3. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (1): He hasn’t posted crazy numbers this season, but there’s still no denying the impact he’s had. Bosa routinely takes on double- and triple-teams, but he’s still getting into opposing backfields. He has 16 tackles for loss and five sacks, to go along with 14 quarterback hurries.
T-3. Iowa CB Desmond King: You know you’re in pretty good company when you’re on the verge of breaking a school record set by Heisman winner Nile Kinnick. King is tied for the national lead in interceptions (8) and needs just one more to break the legendary Kinnick’s mark.
5. Northwestern LB Anthony Walker: Last season, Walker seemed to wear down a bit as the season progressed. This year? No such luck for opposing offenses. He’s only gotten stronger. Not only does he have 19.5 tackles for loss and 113 tackles so far this season, but he’s been on fire lately.
Also receiving votes: Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis
Coach of the Year
1. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz (6 first-place votes): The Hawkeyes are 12-0 right now and hadn’t gone undefeated since 1922. Does anything more really need to be said? Iowa is the surprise team of the Big Ten this season, and Ferentz deserves all the credit coming his way.
2. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio: Another year, another 10-plus win season for the Spartans. It’s becoming so commonplace that one voter left Dantonio off his ballot altogether. Michigan State is just one win away from its third Big Ten title since 2010.
3. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: Outside of Iowa, no other Big Ten team exceeded expectations more than the Wildcats. They rebounded from back-to-back five-win seasons and are now back on track as a rising program. This is Northwestern’s fourth 10-win season since 1903.
Also receiving votes: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh