Nebraska vs. Ohio State: Big Ten Player of the Year Award Hinges on Outcome

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 29:  Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to get around the tackle of Denicos Allen #28 of the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on September 29, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 17-16. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This would be the part of the article where I talk about having respect for the other squads in the Big Ten, how every team has its own great players, blah blah blah.

It's all nonsense.

Saturday night, the No. 21 Nebraska Cornhuskers travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes in what would be a preview of the Big Ten Championship game if not for that pesky NCAA ban on postseason play that the Buckeyes are dealing with this season.

These are the two best teams in the Big Ten, folks, with no apologies to Michigan State, Northwestern and the like.

Not only are these the two best teams in the conference, but they feature two of the most explosive players in the entire country, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez and Ohio State field general Braxton Miller—who also happen to be the two best players in the conference.

Both QBs can beat their opposition with their arm or their legs, and each one brings his own set of intangibles to the table.

Martinez is as locked in as any QB in the country. He understands his offense as well as anyone and it shows in the numbers: the junior is 82-of-121 (a 67.8 percent completion percentage) for 1,059 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception through the air. 

When he decides to take off running, he's picking up nearly six yards per carry, rushing 50 times for 298 yards and three touchdowns.

Miller, a sophomore, is built like a tank, albeit a rather agile one. When he takes off running, he's got no problem lowering his pads and running through defenders. At the same time, he's just as apt to cut, juke and spin his way out of harm's way. That athleticism has led to 90 carries for 577 yards—a 6.4 yards per carry average—to go along with seven touchdowns.

When he stays in the pocket, Miller isn't quite as accurate as his Cornhusker counterpart, completing 62.8 percent of his throws (78-of-121) for 933 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

Their numbers are incredibly close—Martinez has the edge throwing while Miller has the edge running. Somehow, both have attempted 121 passes on the season.

The similarities don't end there: Both quarterbacks have led their teams to 4-1 records and first place in their respective divisions in the Big Ten.

Whoever emerges victorious Saturday night will finally create some separation, with the victor not only enjoying the glory of victory, but gaining an edge in the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, an edge that they might not lose for the rest of the season.

Unless, of course, the game ends in a tie.