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Big Ten awards race tracker: Week 8

We're back with our now weekly look at who is leading the two major player of the year races (offense and defense) in the Big Ten, along with a third, rotating category for other honors. Things have come into focus a little more through three weeks of conference play, but there is still plenty of time for players to make statements and move up.

Here's how we see it right now:

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year

1. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson: Still the Big Ten's top Heisman Trophy candidate, Wilson remains the leader in every league passing category and the odds-on favorite to bring home this award.

2. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson: Yes, he had a horrendous game against Michigan State. You still can't ignore his body of work. He's the leading rusher in the Big Ten and is heavily responsible for Michigan's 6-1 start. More performances like the one he had at East Lansing would knock him down this list, but for now he deserves recognition.

3. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: The leading running back in the Big Ten, Ball has accounted for an amazing 18 touchdowns this season. He'd be getting much more attention if not for Wilson.

4. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead: Just a few yards behind Ball, Burkhead has helped ignite the Nebraska offense and was instrumental in the wins over Washington and Ohio State.

5. Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins: Didn't have his best game last week against Ohio State, but Jenkins leads the conference in all major receiving categories (54 catches, 895 yards, seven touchdowns).

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

1. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus: He leads the nation in sacks with 10, is second in the FBS with five forced fumbles and is third in the country in tackles for loss with 13.

2. Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still: The Nittany Lions senior has been nearly unblockable this season and already has 10 tackles for loss.

3. Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy: Right there with Still as the most disruptive defensive tackle in the league. He's the epicenter of the Spartans' fearsome defense, and Worthy dictated play against both Ohio State and Michigan.

4. Ohio State defensive tackle John Simon: He was brilliant last week against Illinois, earning Big Ten defensive player of the week honors. Simon has 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks and has been the best player on a Buckeyes defense that has kept its team in games this season.

Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year

1. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Bielema has the league's only remaining undefeated team, and he seamlessly integrated Wilson into the program as if the quarterback had been in Madison for three years, not three months.

2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: Despite replacing his two best linebackers and much of his offensive line, Dantonio has the Spartans atop the Legends Division. If he can get his team past Wisconsin this week, he becomes the favorite.

3. Brady Hoke, Michigan: Was the leader in the clubhouse at the midway point. Then the Michigan State game happened. Hoke still has done good work to get his team to 6-1, but he must guide the Wolverines to a strong finish.