Alex Roux, BTN.com editor, December 8, 2016
The best football conference in the country wouldn't exist without dynamic playmakers, and the Big Ten has plenty sprinkled throughout the league. In fact, the talent at the top is so evenly distributed, it's difficult to decide on postseason awards this year.
On Thursday the Chicago Tribune announced Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley as co-recipients of their 2016 Silver Football award, given annually to the Big Ten's most valuable player. Big Ten coaches voted Barrett and Barkley (they were not allowed to vote for a player on their team) into the award's first tie since 2009, as the two offensive standouts received the same number of first- and second-place votes.
Barrett racked up 3,275 yards of total offense this year and accounted for 33 total touchdowns in 2016, including career touchdown No. 100 in the Buckeyes' victory over Michigan. The award went to an Ohio State player for the second straight year after current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott earned the honor in 2015.
Barkley led the Big Ten with 19 touchdowns and averaged 100.2 rushing yards per game. Penn State head coach James Franklin often credited his team's win over Minnesota — his team was 2-2 entering that game — as the turning point in a season that ended in a Big Ten Championship. Barkley finished that game with an explosive touchdown to win in overtime.
Michigan's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Jabrill Peppers finished in third place. There's also still time to add to their accolades this season. Barrett's Buckeyes face Clemson in the College Football Playoff, while Barkley's Nittany Lions will take on Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl.
Barrett is still just a junior and Barkley is only a sophomore, so both will have the chance to defend their co-title next season.