Lando's Big Ten College Football Awards

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Lando's Big Ten College Football Awards
IconWell, 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

O-Line:
Illinois

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
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