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Top 10 Big Ten Plays of 2012

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The Best Big Ten Plays of the Season

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The Big Ten has experienced an off and on season in 2012. Non-conference games provided the conference with a few shocking upsets and many games that were tougher than they should have been. Thankfully, there was plenty of action and suspense once conference play began. There were comebacks, close games, last-second victories and defeats, one team went undefeated (though they weren't eligible for the post-season), one team did better than basically anyone's expectations (though they were also ineligible for the post-season).

Some teams also failed to meet expectations, but even those teams' journeys were fun and exciting in their own way. There was the up and down year for the Michigan Wolverines, the down year of the Michigan St. Spartans practically saved single-handedly by Le'Veon Bell, the Northwestern Wildcats staying in the conference title race late into the season, and the Indiana Hoosiers making a run for the conference title game. And even where there wasn't excitement, there was generally something to intrigue people in a Big Ten game whether it was who was winning the game or how close the game was with time running out.

This year in the Big Ten was filled with dazzling, entertaining, and exciting players. A few of these men that will make appearances on this list are Braxton Miller, quarterback of the Ohio St. Buckeyes, Denard Robinson, quarterback/running back for the Michigan Wolverines, Taylor Martinez, quarterback of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Montee Ball, running back for the Wisconsin Badgers. Throughout the journey that a college football season is, there were plenty of big plays being made by Big Ten football teams. Here are the top ten Big Ten plays of the 2012 season.

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No. 10: Braxton Miller first quarter touchdown run against Cal

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Not the most impressive run of Miller's season, but a very good example of how athletic this man can be, and how easy it was for him, at times, to run for a touchdown this season.

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No. 9: Taylor Martinez 92-yard touchdown run against UCLA

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A straight forward (literally) touchdown run by Martinez. It is the record long for a TD run in the Rose Bowl stadium and was an early indication that Martinez was destined for a really good season.

The play is the first thing on this highlight reel of the game:

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No. 8: Bennie Fowler's game-winning touchdown catch against Wisconsin

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A good catch when you consider how fast the play itself happens. The Badgers gave up a tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation, and that ended up leading to this play.

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No. 7: Denard Robinson touchdown run against Air Force without right shoe

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Even though “Shoelace” didn't have the season he was expected to have, he remained one of the most thrilling players in college football. This play is an example of that as it appears to be your standard TD run by Robinson, except he's doing it with one of his shoes off. And he still doesn't miss a step.

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No. 6: Hit by Kenny Bell in Big Ten title game

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This became a bit big online after the game and was a very talked about play at the time. My take: it was a clean hard block by Bell and that the fall Devin Smith suffered appeared a whole lot worse than the hit itself. It is one of the best blocks or hardest “illegal” shots (depending on how you see it) I've ever seen. You be the judge.

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No. 5: Montee Ball third quarter touchdown run in Big Ten title game

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

If this TD run doesn't say it all about the Badgers' domination of this conference title game, I don't know what does. Ball has no trouble from any Cornhuskers defenders going into the end-zone, including a huge stiff-arm to once such defender who gets in his way.

Go to the 3:35 mark of the video to see the play:

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No. 4: Braxton Miller 72-yard run against Nebraska

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

A dazzling run to say the least. Some sweet maneuvering by Miller, who is then chased down the field by four Cornhuskers. Miller is obviously going for the touchdown, but is stopped short, something that is also kind of dazzling in its own way.

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No. 3: Taylor Martinez 76-yard touchdown run in Big Ten title game

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One of the best runs of the year in all of college football. Martinez basically runs the full-length of the field after having to go backward and complete a couple twists & turns before outrunning the Badgers down the field for the score. Truly great stuff from Martinez and the lone bright spot for the Cornhuskers in the conference title game.

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No. 2: Roy Roundtree's fourth quarter catch against Northwestern

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This one was straight out of Lynn Swann & Super Bowl X. With the game on the line and the Wolverines in need of a field-goal, Roundtree stuck with a ball that had been deflected into the air, and managed to come down with it somehow. The Wolverines ended up getting their field-goal, and went onto win the game in overtime.

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No. 1: Devin Smith one-handed touchdown catch against Miami (OH)

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The listing of the final two makes me a bit sad as a Wolverines fan, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Even when I first saw this play on the first Saturday of college football this season, I figured it would be play of the year. The athleticism, the concentration, the great hand of Smith, all of it was too much to be denied.