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December 9, 2010
Few leagues had as much strength at the top as the Big Ten, with Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State finishing 11-1 and tied for first. The power of those three programs is reflected in Rivals.com's All-Big Ten first team, with 12 of the 24 picks hailing from those three schools.
But the two most singularly impressive players come from other schools. Michigan's Denard Robinson enjoyed one of the most impressive seasons by any quarterback in NCAA history, and Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan was as dominant as any defender in the nation.
Robinson and Kerrigan weren't the only surprise winners. When 2010 dawned, expectations at Michigan State were modest coming off a 6-7 season. But the Spartans confounded experts by winning their first conference title since 1990. Our Big Ten coach of the year, Mark Dantonio, deserves credit, helping the team exceed expectations despite suffering a heart attack in September.
Wisconsin's James White is our Big Ten freshman of the year. He paced the league's newcomers with 1,029 rushing yards -- third in the nation among freshman -- and 14 rushing touchdowns. The speedy White was an effective complement to Badgers power backs John Clay and Montee Ball.