Thursday, October 25, 2012
Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 9
By Brian Bennett
Last week, we presented our choices for the Big Ten midseason awards. It's time to check back in on the races as the second half is in full swing:
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: The Buckeyes' season looked to be in danger when Miller was taken away in an ambulance in the fourth quarter last week against Purdue. But Miller appears to be OK for this week's showdown between the top two candidates for the offensive MVP award.
2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State: The Nittany Lions have had only one 3,000-yard passer in their history -- Darryl Clark, who threw for 3,003 in 2009. McGloin is currently on pace for 3,065 yards.
3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: The Huskers' junior had another huge game last week, leading his team to a comeback victory at Northwestern. Would you have believed before the season that Martinez would lead the Big Ten in pass efficiency and touchdown throws (15) after eight weeks?
4. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Ball got off to a slow start this season, but in conference play he leads all players with 155 rushing yards per game and 10 rushing touchdowns. And isn't how you play in league action the most important thing?
5. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern: Would the Wildcats have held on last week against Nebraska if Mark had not left the game with an injury? We'll never know. But we do know he's been one of the league's most valuable players and that he's still on pace for a 1,000-yard season.
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State: Mauti has simply been a force of nature for the Nittany Lions, leading them on and off the field. He's among the league leaders in tackles, fumbles forced and interceptions.
2. Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan: Ryan rockets up the list after an outstanding last few weeks. He is giving the Wolverines a much-needed pass-rushing presence and is leading a defense that keeps getting better every week.
3. Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State: The Spartans are just 4-4, but you can't blame the Big Ten's top defense, which didn't allow a touchdown in last week's loss to Michigan. Bullough is the leader of that defense and is having a great year.
4. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin: Taylor led the league in tackles last year and is up to his old tricks, currently ranking second in the league with 84 stops and topping the Big Ten with 10 tackles for loss on an underrated defense.
5. Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern: The Wildcats' defensive front is much-improved, and a large portion of the credit goes to Scott, who leads the Big Ten in sacks (six) and forced fumbles (three).
Kwalick–Clark Tight End of the Year
1. Dion Sims, Michigan State: Sims was one of the Spartans' top (only?) weapons before he injured his ankle. For the season, he has 24 catches for 313 yards and two touchdowns, and his team needs him to get healthy.
2. Kyle Carter, Penn State: The redshirt freshman is coming on, and the Nittany Lions are not surprisingly featuring the tight end under Bill O'Brien. Carter has 29 catches for 364 yards and a score and had a big game at Iowa last week.
3. Devin Funchess, Michigan: Another freshman, Funchess has only 11 receptions, but they have gone for 186 yards and three touchdowns as he has become a big-play weapon.
4. Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin: Pedersen struggled early in the season but has come on of late. He's got 15 catches for 199 yards and two scores and is being targeted more often in the passing game.