Asmussen: And the Big Ten's winners are ...

Asmussen: And the Big Ten's winners are ...

Illinois football beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Bob Asmussen watched the Big Ten go 7-1 in the postseason.

Time to hand out some hardware:

MVP

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook

The sophomore from West Chester, Pa., threw four touchdown passes as the Badgers beat Miami in the Orange Bowl. In Miami. Impressive.

SORRY TO SEE YOU GO AWARD

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley

In what was his final college game, the star scored two touchdowns and ran for 137 yards in a Fiesta Bowl win against Washington. Barkley would have been a Heisman favorite had he returned. The Nittany Lions play at Illinois on Sept. 21. Lovie Smith won't complain about Barkley leaving early.

BETTER TO BE LUCKY AWARD

Pat Fitzgerald

Hard to argue with the decisions made by Northwestern's coach, who led his team to another 10-win season. But he took a chance late, going for a first down inside his own territory against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl. The attempt fell short and Kentucky scored a touchdown to pull within one. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops tried for the win but the two-point pass was incomplete. Whew, said the (Purple) Wildcats.

TIME TO EXPAND AWARD

College Football Playoffs

The title game is all-SEC. Boring. But if the field included eight teams, you could have had two from the Big Ten. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State all figure to finish in the top eight and Michigan State will be close.

BOUNCEBACK AWARD

Michigan State

A year after finishing 3-9, including a loss to Illinois, Mark Dantonio's guys capped a 10-3 season with a Holiday Bowl victory against short-handed Washington State. The win was the 100th of Dantonio's Michigan State career.

THANKS FOR NOTHING AWARD

Michigan

Way to screw up the perfect postseason, Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh's quarterback problems played a big part in the only Big Ten bowl loss. By my count, Harbaugh should be looking to move on at any moment.

HAPPY HOMECOMING AWARD

Iowa RB Akrum Wadley

The New Jersey native visited Yankee Stadium for the first time and led the Hawkeyes to a Pinstripe Bowl victory against Boston College. The game MVP had 283 all-purpose yards as Iowa ended a five-game bowl losing streak.

WHO NEEDS YOU AWARD

Ohio State DB Denzel Ward

The junior sat out the Cotton Bowl vs. Southern Cal as he looks forward to an early NFL departure. Damon Webb stepped in and returned an interception for TD and recovered a fumble to set up another score in the Buckeyes' convincing win.

BEST BACKUP AWARD

Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar

If not for David Blough's season-ending injury he suffered against Illinois, Sindelar would not have been starting against Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl. He came through in a big way, throwing for 396 yards and the winning score.

GOOD HIRE AWARD

Nebraska

Technically, the school wasn't in a bowl game. But the entire state was rooting for Central Florida and new coach Scott Frost. The Knights stunned Auburn in the Peach Bowl. There were red "N" hats dotting the crowd in Atlanta.

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