|Ohio State QB Braxton Miller has 11 passing touchdowns and nine rushing scores this season. (US Presswire)|
Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Nebraska were expected to be the elite teams competing for a Rose Bowl berth this season. However, each suffered a nonconference loss and has shown big warts as league play begins.
The Legends Division is now wide open while the Leaders Division likely belongs to a Wisconsin team that could lose as many as five games before December.
Here is CBSSports.com's RapidReports Big Ten midseason awards list:
Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, Ohio State. Coach Urban Meyer said without him, the Buckeyes wouldn't be undefeated. Every time he has the ball, Miller poses a legitimate threat of springing a 40-yard touchdown run or finding one of his receivers deep along the sidelines. At nearly 3:1, he's tied for the second-best touchdown to interception ratio in the Big Ten and his 912 rushing yards are 2nd in the conference.
Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Mauti, Penn State. No player has meant more to his team. He galvanized the squad during the Nittany Lions' tumultuous offseason and leads the 20th-best scoring defense in the country (16 ppg) with 57 tackles through the first six games. His 99-yard interception return to the one-yard line against Illinois on Sept. 29 may even be the defensive highlight of the season.
Coach of the Year: Bill O'Brien, Penn State. He obviously had the football acumen after leaving his position as the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator in 2011 but what no one could know was how poised O'Brien would be in the face of intense media scrutiny during the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal. If that wasn't enough, the first-year head coach rebounded from an 0-2 start, including a brutal loss to Virginia, and reeled off four consecutive wins to restore some pride in the Nittany Lions faithful.
Most surprising player: RB Mark Weisman, Iowa. The former Air-Force transfer wasn't even listed on the Hawkeyes' two-deep depth chart in the offseason but the sophomore has emerged as Iowa's most reliable and stable tailback six games through the season. In four full games, Weisman has rushed for 623 yards and scored six touchdowns, both of which rank in the top 10 of the conference. His bruising, down-hill style makes him much less susceptile to injury than Iowa's others backs.
Most disappointing player: DE William Gholston, Michigan State. Remember when Gholston was being projected as the top available pass rusher in this year's NFL draft? Neither do we. The junior has been slowed by several injuries but has one meager sack through seven games this season and few opposing offenses are even doubling him. Overall, the Spartans are 111th nationally with six sacks.
Most surprising team: Ohio State. No one knew how quickly Urban Meyer could right the ship in Columbus but seven games into the season, the Buckeyes have reason to believe they'll be relevant in the BCS picture for years to come, beginning next season. Were it not for a massive miscalculation on behalf of the Ohio State athletic department, the Buckeyes could be big-time bowling this season. Fortunately, the futile self-imposed punishments only span this year.
Most disappointing team: Wisconsin. The Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) struggled in all four of their nonconference games -- losing at Oregon State -- and had difficulty with a mediocre Fighting Illini team once conference play started. However, because of the depleted Leaders Division, the Badgers still have a chance to go to the Big Ten championship game for the second consecutive year.
Best game so far: Sept: 29: Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16. The slugfest in East Lansing was the defining game of the season thus far. Even though Ohio State isn't eligible this season, it represented that the weight of the conference is shifting towards Columbus. Ohio State's defense held the Spartans to just 1.5 yards per carry while Braxton Miller accounted for 315 yards and a touchdown. “This was a war. This was two sledgehammers going at each other,” Meyer said.
Most overrated team: Michigan. The Wolverines were physically battered 41-14 by Alabama on National TV during their season-opening game and then managed just six points in a loss to Notre Dame three weeks later. Michigan's schedule has been top-heavy with its best win coming on the road against Purdue.
Most underrated team: Northwestern. The Wildcats have one of the most versatile offenses in the country led by quarterback-halfback Kain Colter and tailback Venric Mark. Colter has eight rushing touchdowns and two passing scores while Mark has rushed for 792 yards and eight scores thus far. Northwestern's only loss came on the road against Penn State and its offense poses a threat to any team in the Legends Division.
Conference championship game pick: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin
Midseason All-Conference Team
QB: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
RB: Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
RB: James White, Wisconsin
WR: Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
WR: Allen Robinson, Penn State
WR: Antavian Edison, Purdue
TE: Dion Sims, Michigan State
OT: Taylor Lewan, Michican
OT: Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
OG: Andrew Norwell, Ohio State
OG: Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
C: James Ferentz, Iowa
DE: John Simon, Ohio State
DE: D.L. Wilhite , Minnesota
DT: Johnathan Hankins , Ohio State
DT: Kawann Short, Purdue
LB: Michael Mauti, Penn State
LB: Chris Borland, Wisconsin
LB: Mike Taylor, Wisconsin
CB: Micah Hyde, Iowa
CB: Bradley Roby, Ohio State
S: Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
S: Jordan Kovacs, Michigan
P: Cody Webster, Purdue
K: Mike Meyer, Iowa
KR: Dennis Norfleet , Michigan
PR: Venric Mark, Northwestern
All-Purpose: Kain Colter, Northwestern
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big Ten bloggers Dave Carey and Mike Singer, follow @CBSSportsBigTen.