Singling them out: Big Ten's Best of '11

Well, that was a fun 2011 Big Ten football season. The new divisions created a lot more drama and intrigue, and the inaugural Big Ten title game was a huge success. Now, we have roughly three weeks to kill before the bowl games kick off (see the bowl schedule). With the regular season behind us, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina takes a look at the Best from the Big Ten in 2011. Watch our feature on everyone’s Play of the Year now and see Brent’s winners for best pass, best run, best catch, and much more, in this post.

Best pass: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller vs. Wisconsin -  Trailing by three points with 31 seconds left, Miller dropped back, used his feet and agility to avoid a pair of would-be sacks and sprinted toward the sideline before throwing a perfect laser, across his body and off his back foot, to Devin Smith for the game-winning score. Watch the pass.

Best catch: Ohio State’s Evan Spencer vs. Akron – More than likely, Spencer’s first career grab will go down as his best. That’s how great his catch was in the season opener, when he made a backpedaling, one-handed 33-yard reception, all while managing to get his right foot down before falling out of bounds. Watch the catch.

Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint

US Presswire

Best run: Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint vs. Purdue – There were longer runs, but Toussaint’s 59-yard touchdown scamper against the Boilermakers was silly good. As many as eight Boilers had a chance at Toussaint, who took a sweep left, cut back to his right twice, and then turned up field and outran everyone. Watch the run.

Best trick play: Michigan State’s Keith Nichol to B.J. Cunningham in Big Ten title game – The play wasn’t called in the huddle, but Kirk Cousins-to-Nichol-to-Cunningham turned out to be quite the trick play. Early in the second quarter, on a 1st-and-goal, Cousins hit Nichol near the sideline, and before he was taken down he flipped it to Cunningham, who caught the lateral, took a few steps and dove into the end zone. Watch the play below.

Best sack: Michigan State’s Denicos Allen on Ohio State’s Joe Bauserman – Much like Adam Sandler’s character Bobby Boucher in “The Waterboy,” Allen hurdled a lineman on his way to taking down the quarterback. This play was real, though, and it was spectacular. Watch the sack.

Best interception: Iowa’s Shaun Prater vs. Tennessee Tech – In Iowa’s easy season-opening win, Prater just wanted the ball more than his man. He basically stole it from the receiver in the air, landed just inside the sideline, and put it into another gear on his way to bringing it back 89 yards to the house.  Watch the pick-6.

Best special teams play: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah vs. Fresno State – 100 yards. Two ankle-breaking moves. Six points. It’s not as easy as Abdullah made it look.  Watch the return TD.

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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8 Comments

Your Opinion?
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Danny on 12/7/2011 @ 2:00pm EST Said:

How can Marvin McNutt’s catch against Mich St. not be the best catch of the year? I know the reception you are talking about and I witnessed McNutt’s catch in person and, trust me, McNutt’s was a much tougher grab.

Ezra on 12/7/2011 @ 2:01pm EST Said:

Could you fix the link to the Nichol/Cunningham play? It just sends you to the BTN homepage.

Austin on 12/7/2011 @ 2:37pm EST Said:

That was a good sack. Jared Crick’s sack on Washington QB Keith Price was pretty good too.

Hecksyeahdanny on 12/7/2011 @ 2:41pm EST Said:

+1 Danny. McNutts was much better!!!

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 12/7/2011 @ 3:10pm EST Said:

    Regarding McNutt’s catch, that was the first one that came to mind. After thinking about the whole season, though, I remembered Spencer and Posey’s one-handed grabs. All were unreal catches. What made Spencer’s the best, to me, was the fact he was backpedaling, had to reach back for it and get a foot down. That said, I’m not going to argue with anyone who says McNutt or Posey’s was better. That’s how good all three were.

Aaron on 12/7/2011 @ 3:09pm EST Said:

McNutt’s was way better

Rachel on 12/8/2011 @ 12:53am EST Said:

As and Iowa grad I would love to say that McNutt’s grab was the best catch… and for as much as i dislike OSU, Evan Spencer’s catch is very impress for a true freshman playing in his first game ever in college! (not to mention I may just be a tad biased to Evan since my brother grew up playing football with him) I would say a tie between the two catches!