B1G Non-conference Awards
Is there ever a bad time to hand out awards?
It might be a little premature to hand out any official awards. But with non-conference play in the books, why not take a look at the B1G’s best in the first month of 2015?
Here are the B1G non-conference awards:
B1G Offensive Player of the Year: Jordan Howard (Indiana)
The UAB transfer made it a point before the season to make sure Indiana fans knew he wasn’t Tevin Coleman. He’s right. But he’s been just as productive. He’s just 16 yards short of Coleman’s four-game start, which is also a credit to a veteran IU offensive line. Kevin Wilson suggested prior to 2015 that Howard and Devine Redding would both have heavy workloads, but there’s no doubt who the offense is built around. Howard is second in the country in carries, and amazingly, he still doesn’t have a rush longer than 37 yards. His ability to break off big chunks of yardage and wear down an opposing defense is second to none. A 2,000-yard season is certainly within reach for a guy who is already a B1G household name.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State), C.J. Beathard (Iowa), Tommy Armstrong (Nebraska)
B1G Defensive Player of the Year: Riley Bullough (Michigan State)
The Michigan State linebacker has been everywhere. His speed has fueled the Spartans’ big-play defense, which needs a guy like Bullough to do all the dirty work. Ask Vernon Adams what it’s like to see Bullough barreling down. Even when he isn’t getting sacks — he has three — he’s still rushing throws and making key stops in the open field. Without his third-down dominance against Central Michigan, the No. 2 Spartans could’ve been in a scary spot late in that game. With the mounting injuries around him, Bullough’s presence might be felt even more in the coming weeks.
Honorable Mention: Carl Nassib (Penn State), Darron Lee (Ohio State), Anthony Walker (Northwestern)
B1G Special Teams Player of the Year: Janarion Grant (Rutgers)
An unknown commodity outside of New Jersey last year, B1G fans heard about Grant when he was linked to a promotion that would’ve awarded Rutgers students their share of $100,000 if he brought the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. Grant didn’t accomplish that feat, but he returned three punts/kicks for scores in the following seven quarters of football. He’s the only player in the country to have returned a punt and kick for a touchdown. Without Grant, this Rutgers offense would be in even rougher shape. It’s a shame he couldn’t return the opening kick for a score, but it’s safe to say he made up for it.
Honorable Mention: Marshall Koehn (Iowa), Peter Mortell (Minnesota), William Likely (Maryland)
B1G Freshman of the Year: Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
Talk about taking advantage of the opportunity. Ever since Barkley was inserted into the lineup in the second half against Buffalo, he’s been virtually unstoppable. Barkley leads all freshmen in rushing with 373 yards on just 42 carries. Unfortunately right now, the biggest issue with Barkley could be health. He’s questionable for Saturday after leaving the San Diego State game in the second quarter. It’s amazing to think that Barkley was basically inactive for eight quarters this season and he’s still fifth in the conference in rushing. Not bad, rookie.
Honorable Mention: Rodney Smith (Minnesota), Jabrill Peppers (Michigan), Taiwan Deal (Wisconsin)