Big Ten Power Rankings: Final Poll and Awards Edition

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer INovember 25, 2008

The Big Ten season has come to an end much too quickly. 
Congratulations to Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions for winning a share of the Big Ten title for the second time in four years and earning their second BCS appearance in four years.
Congratulations to Jim Tressel and Ohio State for winning at least a share of the Big Ten title for the fourth straight year.
This season was full of new names who led their teams to new heights:  Shonn Greene, Daryll Clark, Brit Miller, Terrelle Pryor, Garrett Graham, Evan Royster, Corey Wootton, Michael Brewster, Kory Sheets, and Brandon Graham, to name just a few.
It was a great Big Ten season. 
Thanks to Nino Colla, Isaac Luber, Bobby Cash, Brett Lissenden, Adam Lindemer, Molly Gray, Cody Blubaugh, and Joe Guarr, who all participated in the poll over the course of the season.


The final Big Ten Power Rankings:
1.  Penn State  65
2.  Ohio State  63
3.  Michigan State  54
4.  Iowa  47
5.  Northwestern  43
6.  Wisconsin  31
7.  Minnesota  26
8.  Illinois  24
9.  Purdue  21
10.  Michigan  12 
11.  Indiana  8


B/R Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year:  Shonn Greene, Iowa
The junior running back led the Big Ten with 1,729 rushing yards this season while scoring 17 touchdowns and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He currently ranks second in the nation with 144.1 yards per game and is the only player in the country to rush for 100 or more yards in every game.
He is the first Big Ten running back to surpass the 100-yard mark in 12 straight games since Northwestern's Darnell Autry in 1995 and the first to accomplish that feat in all eight conference games since Penn State's Curtis Enis in 1997.
Greene's 1,729 rushing yards set a new school single-season record, while his 17 touchdowns are tied with the mark set by Tavian Banks. Greene is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's top player, and one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, earned by the top running back. 
Shonn Greene received 3.5 out 6 votes (one voter split the award).  Others receiving votes include Javon Ringer, Michigan State (1.5) and Daryll Clark, Penn State (1).


B/R Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year:  James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State (tie)
James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins returned to Columbus to spearhead a Buckeyes unit which led the Big Ten in scoring defense in conference play for the fourth straight year and boosted the Buckeyes to a share of their fourth straight championship for the first time since 1977.
Laurinaitis is a two-time consensus All-American and two-time Big Ten Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.  In all games, the senior linebacker led Ohio State and ranked second in the conference with 10.1 tackles per game (121 total) while also collecting 5.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 12 games.
Laurinaitis won the 2007 Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and the 2006 Nagurski Trophy as the country's top defender. He is a finalist for the Lombardi Award, a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Bednarik Awards and a candidate to repeat as the Butkus Award winner.
Jenkins was a force all season long at the corner spot and was an emotional leader for the Buckeye defense.  He finished the season with 54 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack.  He also broke up nine passes, forced three fumbles, had three interceptions, and blocked two field goals.
Jenkins was a named a second team All-American, two-time first team All-Big Ten, and Thorpe Award semifinalist last season and is the leading candidate to win the award this season. 
Both James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins received 2 out of 6 votes.  Others receiving votes include Brit Miller, Illinois (1) and Navarro Bowman, Penn State (1).


B/R Big Ten Coach of the Year:  Joe Paterno, Penn State
Paterno guided the Nittany Lions to their second Big Ten title in the last four seasons and third since joining the conference.  After finishing 4-4 in the conference last season, Penn State produced a 7-1 mark with its lone loss coming on a last-second field goal at Iowa.
The Nittany Lions ended the regular season 11-1 overall to post 10 or more victories for the second time in four seasons and the sixth time since joining the conference in 1993. Paterno has won 136 games since entering the Big Ten, placing him sixth on the list of 12 coaches to collect 100 or more wins while at a conference school.  
Joe Paterno received 4 out of 6 votes.  Others receiving votes include Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (2).


B/R Big Ten Freshman of the Year:  Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
Pryor led the Big Ten with a pass efficiency rating of 151.3 in conference games, making him the first freshman to top the conference in that category since at least 1980, when the current pass efficiency system was introduced.
In all games, Pryor completed 95 of 152 passes (62.5 percent) for 1,245 yards and 12 touchdowns and ranked second on the team with 553 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He produced an 8-1 record as a starter and became the first OSU true freshman to start behind center since 1978.  
Terrelle Pryor was the unanimous choice.


B/R Big Ten's Most Surprising Team:  Northwestern
Northwestern finished fourth in the conference with a record of 9-3 (5-3) after finishing tenth in the conference with a record of 6-6 (3-5) a season ago.
The Wildcats, led by head coach Pat Fitzgerald, had impressive victories over Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois, and will be making their first bowl appearance since 2005. 
Northwestern received  3 out of 6 votes.  Others receiving votes include Michigan State (1), Minnesota (1), and Penn State (1).


B/R Big Ten's Most Disappointing Team:  Wisconsin
The Badgers began the season as a top 15 team and were ranked as high as No. 9 before the Big Ten season opened.  The four straight losses to Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa left the Badgers in a huge hole at 3-4 (0-4).
The Badgers would rebound to win three of their next four, but finished much like they started with a mediocre performance against FCS Cal Poly.  Their final record, 7-5 (3-5), was only good enough for seventh in the conference. 
Wisconsin was the unanimous choice.


B/R Big Ten Way-Too-Early Favorites for 2009
The favorites to lead the Big Ten next season are the league's three hottest teams from this season. 
Ohio State and Penn State both received an equal number of first place votes and are the clear favorites to repeat as champions in 2009, and based on a strong 2008 finish, Iowa was the consensus choice to finish third in the conference in 2009.