Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 31, 2011
Prior to the 2011 college football season, the Big Ten announced the creation of 18 new trophies, including two for the new Big Ten Championship Game and two for postgraduate awards. Each trophy honors the Big Ten?s rich history, with two Big Ten legends? last names on it (i.e. Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year).
Every week during the season, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down the race for the 14 annual trophies. See Tom?s top candidates for each trophy following Week 9 in this post.
BIG TEN TROPHY TRACKER
THE BUZZ: Redd has emerged as the top running back in the Big Ten, pacing the league with 1,006 yards rushing for the lone unbeaten team in conference play. Wilson continues to post good numbers, but the Badgers have lost two in a row.
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year
1. Devon Still, T, Penn State
2. Whitney Mercilus, E, Illinois
3. Jerel Worthy, T, Michigan State
THE BUZZ: Still continues to play a big role a Nittany Lion defense that ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten overall and No. 3 vs. the run, ranking No. 2 in the league in tackles for loss. Mercilus is a big play guy, topping the Big Ten in tackles for loss and sacks.
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year
1. Joe Paterno, Penn State
2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
3. Brady Hoke, Michigan
THE BUZZ: JoePa still has it, becoming the all-time winningest Division I coach last week. He also is coaching the lone unbeaten team in Big Ten action. Hoke continues to keep the Wolverines in the thick of the Legends race. Nebraska?s Bo Pelini and Ohio State?s Luke Fickell could factor into this race.
THE BUZZ: Miller continues to improve and grow, playing his best yet in an upset of Wisconsin last week by hitting 7-of-12 passes for 89 yards and running 19 times for 99 yards and two scores. His last minute, game-winning touchdown heave was epic. Young continues to be the top rusher running back among Big Ten freshmen.
Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year
1. C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
2. C Mike Caputo, Nebraska
3. C David Molk, Michigan
THE BUZZ: Konz is the anchor of a tough and physical line that paves the way for the No. 1 offense in the Big Ten. Caputo is the point man for a Husker front that continues to improve. Molk is yet another good center in a league dominated by good one.
Smith-Brown Defensive Player of the Year
1. Devon Still, Penn State
2. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
3. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
THE BUZZ: Still is the anchor of a rugged Nittany Lion defense that ranks No. 8 in the nation. He ranks third in the Big Ten in tackles for loss and has three sacks. Worthy is right behind Still in being a disruptive force on the interior for a Spartan defense that ranks No. 2 in the nation.
THE BUZZ: This isn?t a good year for quarterbacks. Yes, Wilson has lost two games in a row, but he has done his part. Robinson remains a work in progress as a passer but is deadly run. Cousins is as good a leader as he is a passer.
THE BUZZ: Redd is the engine that makes the Penn State offense go. Ball is a touchdown machine, while Coker is coming off a career-high 252 yards rushing last weekend.
Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year
1. Micah Hyde, Iowa
2. Nick Sukay, Penn State
3. Ricardo Allen, Purdue
THE BUZZ: The Iowa defense has been spotty, but Hyde has played well. He paces the Big Ten in passes defended and also has been a pillar in run support. Sukay is a big hitter in a tough, veteran Nittany Lion secondary.
Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year
1. Lavonte David, Nebraska
2. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
3. Gerald Hodges, Penn State
THE BUZZ: David is a tackling machine who will leave Nebraska as an all-time great. Hodges has gotten better and better as the season has progressed, earning back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors, this past week following a career-high 19 tackles vs. Illinois. Iowa?s James Morris and Wisconsin?s Mike Taylor are playing well, too.
THE BUZZ: Jenkins? production has slowed, but he?s still leading the league with 68 grabs for 1,030 yards. McNutt has been a scoring machine, pacing the Big Ten with nine scoring catches. He also averages 17.9 yards per catch. Cunningham is the guy who stretches defenses for a balanced Spartan attack.
THE BUZZ: Dunsmore is coming off a career game vs. Indiana, catching a school single-game record four touchdown passes. He paces all Big Ten tight ends with 29 catches for 328 yards and six touchdowns. Pedersen also has six touchdown grabs, while Stoneburner remains a force in the middle of the field.
THE BUZZ: Maher has nailed 82 percent of his field-goal attempts (14-of-17) and is third in the Big Ten in scoring. Gibbons has been giving Michigan the steady kicking (6-of-8 on field-goal attempts) it lacked last season.
Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year
1. Cody Webster, Purdue
2. Anthony Fera, Penn State
3. Brett Maher, Nebraska
THE BUZZ: Webster continues to nail the ball, leading the Big Ten with a 45.5-yard average to also rank 10th in the nation. Maher continues to excel pulling the rare punting-kicking double. He ranked second in the league with a 45.2-yard average.