Well, I'm in the mood to hand out my regular season awards for the Big Ten.
Offensive Player of the Year: Mike Hart.
There is no question that Hart, while not my personal favorite, earned this award with his performance at the beginning of the season and by playing through injury. He has over 1,000 yards on the year and no fumbles.
Defensive Player of the Year: J Leman, Illinois
While a serious argument can be made for James Laurinaitis of Ohio State, or Dan Connor, Sean Lee, or Maurice Evans of Penn State, Leman has had the biggest defensive impact on the conference's most improved team. He has way over 100 tackles for the third straight season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Arrelious "Regis" Benn, Illinois
Technically, I believe Todd Boeckman should be seriously considered for this award, but because he's a junior, he's eliminated from consideration.
Therefore, Benn is the clear choice. A potential game-changer on every play, the 6'2'', 215-pounder from Washington, D.C. has 580 yards on 47 receptions, and has led the Illini back to national prominence.
If they win against Northwestern on Saturday and Hawaii loses one of their three remaining contests, Illiniois has a chance for a BCS at-large berth.
Honorable mention: Evan Royster, Penn State
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Greg Jones, Michigan State
One of the only true freshmen to make an impact every game, Jones is tied for the team lead in tackles with 69 (prior to MSU's game with Penn State). Not many freshmen start at linebacker in the Big Ten and play as well as Jones has this season.
Coach of the Year: Ron Zook, Illinois
Is there really any challenger against the 8-3 coach of the Illini? Known for his fabulous recruiting skills, Zook brought in another stalwart class this year, led by Arrelious Benn, and they, along with Juice Williams, Leman, and Rashard Mendenhall have led Illinois to their best season in five years—including the first upset of a top-ranked team since 1956.
Best Performance of the Season by Unit
Offensive Line: Illinois vs. Ohio State
This underrated line protected Juice Williams well enough to allow for Williams' four touchdowns and no interceptions. Williams rushed for 70 yards and was not sacked by the nation's best rush defense.
Underrated Performance of The Game: Daniel Dufrene
The true freshman had over 100 yards on less than 10 carries, and his huge 80-yard run set up the game's first tying touchdown.
Honorable Mention: Michigan vs. Penn State—Mike Hart's 52 carries
Defensive Line: Penn State vs. Indiana
The D-line overshadowed a less than stellar performance by the Lions' highly-touted secondary. Maurice Evans had a phenomenal game, sacking the elusive Kellen Lewis twice for fumbles, including one he returned 55 yards to set up a Penn State field goal.
Evans' second forced fumble—Lewis's third turnover of the half—clinched a close Penn State victory and their first road win of the year. Josh Gaines also collected a sack.
Secondary: Illinois vs. Ohio State
The Illini secondary had three picks off Todd Boeckman, who was performing as well as, if not better than, last year's Buckeye starter Heisman winner Troy Smith.
Vontae Davis gets a special gold star for getting a pick before getting injured and having to come out of the game.
Best Units of the Year (at least two are chosen for most)
Quarterback: Todd Boeckman and Juice Williams
Halfback: Rashard Mendenhall, Javon Ringer and Mike Hart
Receiver: Brian Robiskie, Devin Thomas, Dorien Bryant
Tight End: Travis Beckum and Kellen Davis
D-Line: Penn State
Linebacker: Dan Connor, J Leman, James Laurinaitis, Sean Lee
Secondary: Vontae Davis, Terrell Vinson
Kicker: Taylor Mehlhaff
Punter: Jeremy Boone
Returner: Arrelious Benn, Dorien Bryant