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.
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.