Big Ten Postseason Report

Scout recaps the year in the Big Ten and hands out its post-season conference honors...

Big Ten – Post-season

Power Five

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan State
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Nebraska

So many people made a big deal out of Ohio State losing to Virginia Tech early in the season, but there is no debating the Buckeyes finished stronger than any team in the nation. Ohio State routed Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and did it with a third string quarterback. It was enough to impress college football’s selection committee and send the Buckeyes into the four-team playoff. Also, it put the Buckeyes on top in the Big Ten after the unexpected loss in the 2013 conference championship game.

There were other stories as well as Michigan slid to depths it had not experienced in decades upon decades, and Penn State followed up its good news of NCAA sanctions being lifted by earning a bowl bid. Newcomers Maryland and Rutgers each gained bowl access in their year in the league, and in total 10 teams are bowl bound, including Illinois, which won on the final week of the regular season to secure the spot.

However, it was a season in which Ohio State dominated on the field, and with postseason awards.

Coach of the Year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State

When Ohio State lost Braxton Miller to a season-ending injury, there was concern regarding what the Buckeyes would do because J.T. Barrett had to play. When Barrett when down, pundits starting talking about Ohio State’s demise since third-string quarterback Cardale Jones was on deck. Well, Meyer not only guided the Buckeyes past the Miller injury and got them to recover from the shocking home defeat to Virginia Tech early in the season, he made them believe in Jones, and it showed in a 59-0 win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

Offensive Player of the Year: J T Barrett, QB, Ohio State

No one doubted Barrett’s talent, but what he did on the field before being injured in the regular season finale against Michigan was remarkable. Barrett completed 64.7 percent of his passes (203 of 314) for 2,834 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for more than 100 yards oce, and has a surreal showing in a seven-point win against Minnesota in which he threw for 200 yards and three scores and ran for 189 yards and a touchdown. He was so good by the end of the season people were wondering where Miller was going to transfer to.

Defensive Player of the Year: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Ohio State was so dominant in so many ways, and it also had the top defensive player. Bosa was a machine, disrupting plays and causing havoc in the run and pass game. Bosa finished with a league-leading 13 ½ sacks, which was four more than the next player. He had 20 tackles for loss, which was four more than any other play in the Big Ten. Bosa was also tied for the league lead with four forced fumbles.

Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Barrett was the overall offensive player of the year, so he has to be the freshman of the year as well. Barrett proved his mettle by recovering from a poor showing against Virginia Tech to dominate. He was ninth in the league in rushing yards per game (78.2), second in passing yards (236.2) and he led the Big Ten in passing efficiency (169.8). The other possibility was Penn State’s DaeSean Hamilton, who made 75 catches, but Ohio State won its division.

Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: JaWhaun Bentley, LB, Purdue

When fifth-year senior Sean Robinson went down with an injury, someone had to take up the slack. It was Bentley, a freshman from Maryland who became a tackling machine for the Boilermakers. Bentley finished the season as the top tackler among freshman in the Big Ten with 76 and he played in each game. He also was opportunistic around the ball with three fumble recoveries, the second most in the league.

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