Award season is getting closer, and two more lists of semifinalists are out, for the Maxwell Award (nation's top player) and the Bednarik Award (nation's top defender).
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball both are Maxwell Award semifinalists. Miller remains among the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, so his name on the Maxwell list comes as no surprise. It has been more of a struggle for Ball this season, but his overall numbers (1,028 rush yards, 13 touchdowns) aren't bad. Two Big Ten players who merit consideration for the Maxwell are Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Northwestern running back Venric Mark, but it's not a shock to see neither.
The bigger issue I have is with the list of Bednarik semifinalists. Only one Big Ten defender -- Ohio State junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins -- made the rundown. Hankins has had a nice year, but he's not on our list of top candidates for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, much less a national honor. Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti continues to be overlooked by the award committees despite having an All-America type season. You have to wonder whether a group that gave LSU's Tyrann Mathieu the Bednarik Award in 2011 is concerned about potential bad PR if it gave it to Mauti. If so, that's a shame. Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan and Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough also should be in the Bednarik mix, in my view.
Three finalists for both the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Nov. 19, and the winners will be named Dec. 6 at the Home Depot College Football Awards.