ESPN.com's All-Big Ten team

As you may have noticed, we weren't exactly big fans of the official All-Big Ten teams that were announced last month.

We don't claim to know more about football than the league's coaches, not for a second. But after watching every Big Ten game all season long, we found ourselves scratching our heads at some choices that didn't seem to jibe with what we were seeing. Well, it's time to put our money where our mouths are and offer our official ESPN.com picks for the 2012 All-Big Ten team. Now you can argue with our choices, which look like this:


QB: Braxton Miller, Ohio State

RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin

RB: Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State

WR: Allen Robinson, Penn State

WR: Kenny Bell, Nebraska

TE: Kyle Carter, Penn State

OT: Taylor Lewan, Michigan

OG: Spencer Long, Nebraska

C: Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State

OG: Brian Mulroe, Northwestern

OT: Jack Mewhort, Ohio State


DL: John Simon, Ohio State

DL: Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

DL: Jordan Hill, Penn State

LB: Michael Mauti, Penn State

LB: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State

LB: Jake Ryan, Michigan

LB: Chris Borland, Wisconsin

DB: Bradley Roby, Ohio State

DB: Ciante Evans, Nebraska

DB: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

DB: Daimion Stafford, Nebraska

Special teams

PK: Jeff Budzien, Northwestern

P: Mike Sadler, Michigan State

All-purpose: Venric Mark, Northwestern

The first thing you might notice with our team is that we're lining up as a 3-4 defense. We decided to go with only three defensive linemen and four linebackers because linebacker was such a strong position for the league this year. And even with four, we still left off very worthy players such as Wisconsin's Mike Taylor, Penn State's Gerald Hodges and Michigan State's Max Bullough. Going with three down linemen meant we excluded Purdue's Kawann Short, a great player who was slowed by injuries during the heart of the Boilers' schedule. ... One of our toughest calls was at tight end. You can make a great case for either Carter or Michigan State's Dion Sims, and their numbers are incredibly close. ... We chose four defensive backs instead of two corners and two safeties, just as the Big Ten does with its official teams. And we were happy to do so since we thought the safety position was a little lacking this year overall. And since Evans is a nickelback, it kind of works, anyway. ... We went with Michigan State's Bell in a close call over Northwestern's Mark but still got Mark on our team as the all-purpose player, which fits his skills since he is a top-flight punt returner. ... Ohio State leads the way with six selections, followed by Penn State with five and Nebraska with four.