Big Ten reaches halfway mark
The Associated Press
The Big Ten’s best teams so far, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan, have the best players on both sides of the ball at the midway point of the season.
Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins is on pace to break school records. Wolverines defensive end Chase Winovich is the only Big Ten defensive player on The Associated Press midseason All-America team.
Haskins and Winovich may meet with more than personal accolades on the line on Nov. 24 at the Horseshoe. Ohio State and Michigan are the only Big Ten teams without a conference loss, but each team will face some tough tests before resuming their rivalry in the regular season finale.
Here’s a look at notable teams and players so far, according to Associated Press sports writers who cover the Big Ten’s 14 schools:
COACH OF THE YEAR
Matt Canada, Maryland
The interim coach took over a program in turmoil and has helped the Terrapins (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) already match last season’s number of wins.
Canada was put in charge when coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August, pending an investigation into the behavior of his staff. The team was also dealing with the June death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair following a preseason workout.
Also receiving votes: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The likely Heisman Trophy candidate leads the nation with 28 passing touchdowns and ranks among the top five in 10 other passing categories.
After backing up J.T. Barrett last year, the redshirt sophomore became the first Buckeye to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games.
Also receiving votes: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The senior defensive end is regarded as the top player, edging out linebacker Devin Bush , on the nation’s second-ranked defense. Winovich regularly takes on more than one block, especially with Rashan Gary out with a shoulder injury, and still ranks among Big Ten leaders with 1 1/2 tackles for a loss per game.
Also receiving votes: Bush; Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State; Anthony Nelson, Minnesota; Carter Coughlin, Minnesota; Tre Watson, Maryland.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Rondale Moore, Purdue
He is averaging a Big Ten-best 167.8 all-purpose yards, kicking off the season with single-game school-record 313 yards in the opener against Northwestern. The 5-foot-9 receiver ranks second in the conference with 7.5 receptions and 93 yards receiving per game.
Also receiving votes: KJ Hamler, Penn State; Micah Parsons, Penn State; Adrian Martinez, Nebraska.
MOST SURPRISING TEAM
No one would have been surprised if the Terrapins had an awful year after the death of a teammate and allegations of abuse.
Instead, they opened with a win over then-No. 23 Texas and are two victories from being eligible for a bowl with some winnable games left on the schedule.
Also receiving votes: Michigan, Iowa.
MOST SURPRISING TEAM
The winless Huskers were expected to struggle this season, but not this much. Nebraska is the only Power Five conference team without a win. Scott Frost was the splashy hire and yet the quarterback who led Nebraska to a share of the 1997 title has not been able to make an instant impact as a coach.
Also receiving votes: Wisconsin, Penn State, Rutgers.
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER
David Blough, Purdue
He has emerged as one of the Big Ten’s most efficient quarterbacks despite opening the year as a backup while recovering from ankle surgery.
After the Boilermakers started 0-3, Blough has led them to three straight victories to climb into contention in the West Division.
Also receiving votes: Rondale Moore, Purdue; KJ Hamler, Penn State.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin
He is very inconsistent despite having Taylor, one of the best running backs in the country, and plenty of experience.
Hornibrook failed to complete 12 straight passes, missing some open receivers badly, in last week’s 38-13 loss to Michigan .
Also receiving votes: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State; Trace McSorley, Penn State; Nick Bosa, Ohio State ; Juwan Johnson, Penn State.