2006 Big 10 Surprises, Disappointments, MVPs

Posted Dec 10, 2006

2006 Big East Surprises, Disappointments, Bests & MVPs

CFN 2006 All-Big 10 Team and Top 30 Players


Coach of the Year Jim Tressel, Ohio State
Fine, so he had a who's who of prep All-Americans to fill in on defense, and it helps to have Troy Smith throwing the ball to a world class group of receivers and a great backfield to hand off to, but Tressel kept his team on track despite having the bull's-eye on its back all season long. Who else could lose so much NFL talent and be in the national title the next year?

Worst Coaching Job of the Year – John L. Smith, Michigan State
Almost every team has a major hurdle, or some adversity, to overcome at some point during the year. Michigan State's nationally televised meltdown/choke against Notre Dame was bad enough, but to then lose to Illinois the week after showed how the coaching staff couldn't get the team back. There were still chances late in the year to get bowl eligible with a relatively easy slate against Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. Loss, loss, loss, hello Mark Dantonio.

Best Performance of the Season -
Indiana QB Kellen Lewis completed 16 of 26 passes for 261 yards and five touchdowns with an interception and ran 14 times for 75 yards and a touchdown in the 46-21 win over Michigan State. WR James Hardy caught six passes for 83 yards and four scores.

Top Freshman – Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill
Out last year injured, Hill came back and filled in for Brian Calhoun without a problem rolling for 1,533 yards and 18 touchdowns with a fantastically consistent season. He ran for over 100 yards eight different times and even worked well as a receiver catching 18 passes for 197 yards and a score.

Most Disappointing Player – (tie) Iowa QB Drew Tate & Michigan State QB Drew Stanton
Stanton was so good for three games with a 105-yard rushing day against Pitt and looking like possible sleeper in the All-America race, and then came the Notre Dame loss, and then came the total team meltdown. He had a decent game against Michigan and came up with an epic fourth quarter to beat Northwestern. It wasn't enough to salvage a wildly disappointing senior year. Speaking of going out with a thud, Iowa's Drew Tate was dinged up, appeared to press too much, and threw only 16 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions with six picks in the final three games.

Biggest Surprise – Indiana 
Who would've thought the Hoosiers could've beaten Iowa, blowout Michigan State, and look like a living, breathing, up-and-coming Big 10 team? Kellen Lewis is the most exciting player to pass through Bloomington since Antwaan Randle El.

Biggest Disappointment –
Michigan State is a close second. Iowa never made one of its patented second half of the season runs and finished a pathetic 2-6 in the Big Ten losing its final five conference games. Even with all the problems, the Hawkeyes are still playing Texas in the Alamo Bowl; not a bad prize for a lousy season.

Best Game of the Big Ten Season 
Ohio State 42 ... Michigan 39
Ohio State won a classic as Troy Smith threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers highlighted by a 39-yard pass to Ted Ginn off a fake for a 21-7 second half lead and an eight-yard strike to Anthony Gonzalez for a 28-14 halftime advantage. Michigan roared back with a stop on OSU's first second half possession to go 60 yards in five plays finished off by the second of Mike Hart's three touchdown runs. The Wolverines pulled within four on a 39-yard Garrett Rivas field goal, but the Buckeyes got their second big touchdown run of the game, the first coming in the first half on a brilliant, spinning 52-yard dash from Chris Wells, on an Antonio Pittman 56-yard dash. Michigan capitalized off a fumble with a short Hart scoring run, but head coach Lloyd Carr chose to kick the extra point rather than go for two allowing OSU to be up by four. With an 11-play, 82-yard drive that took five minutes and was kept alive on a penalty from a helmet-to-helmet hit on a third down misfire, Smith hit Brian Robiskie on a 13-yard touchdown pass for a 42-31 lead. Michigan marched back with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker and the two point conversion, but the Buckeyes recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. 

Second Best Game
Michigan State 41 ... Northwestern 38, Oct. 21
Third Best Game
Indiana 34 ... Illinois 32, Oct. 7

Worst Game of the Big Ten Season 
Ohio State 44 ... Minnesota 0
Ohio State had no problem with the Gophers cranking out 484 yards of total offense and getting two Antonio Pittman rushing touchdowns and Troy Smith ran for a score and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie. Minnesota was held to 47 rushing yards and lost three interceptions failing to ever mount any sort of a threat. Chris Wells and Justin Zwick added short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

Team MVPs   
Illinois – QB Juice Williams, LB J Leman
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 5-7,
final regular season record: 2-10

Indiana – QB Kellen Lewis, CB Tracy Porter
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 4-8,
final regular season record: 5-7

– OG Mike Jones, LB Mike Klinkenborg
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 11-1,
final regular season record: 6-6

– RB Mike Hart, LB LaMarr Woodley
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 10-2,
final regular season record: 11-1

Michigan State
– WR Kerry Reed, DT Clifton Ryan
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 8-4,
final regular season record: 4-8

– RB Amir Pinnix, SS Dominic Jones
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 5-7,
final regular season record: 6-6
– RB Tyrell Sutton, FS Brendan Smith
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 4-8,
final regular season record: 4-8

Ohio State – QB Troy Smith, DT Quinn Pitcock
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 10-2,
final regular season record: 12-0

Penn State
– RB Tony Hunt, LB Paul Posluszny
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 9-3,
final regular season record: 8-4

Purdue – QB Curtis Painter, DE Anthony Spencer
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 7-6,
final regular season record: 8-5

– OT Joe Thomas, CB Jack Ikegwuonu
CFN Preview 2006 predicted record: 9-3,
final regular season record: 11-1