By Tyler Fenwick @Ty_Fenwick on April 5, 2014
Ohio State's Braxton Miller has a wonderful opportunity to become the first Big 10 player to receive the Offensive Player of the Year for a third time. He became only the second conference player to win it twice last season. He's the early favorite to do it again in 2014, but these five players will undoubtedly have something to say about that before it's all over.
In his last full season (2012), Venric Mark rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Wildcats raced to a 10-3 record. Mark is reported to be ahead of schedule as he rehabs a "chipped" left ankle suffered against Wisconsin last season. With an expected full recovery coming for the start of 2014, there's no reason Mark can't compete with the same number he had in 2012, and turn a lot of heads while doing it.
We've seen both extremes of Devin Gardner's game. At his low, he's the struggling quarterback who threw three picks against Akron. At his best, he's the playmaker who almost single-handedly wrecked Ohio State's perfect season. If that Gardner plays this whole 2014 season, there isn't a better player in the Big 10.
Given a full, healthy season, there's no reason to think Tevin Coleman couldn't win the Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year award. On only 131 carries last season, Coleman rushed for 958 yards. That's an average of 7.31. Not bad, huh?
Ameer Abdullah finished first in the Big 10 and sixth nationally with 130 rushing yards per game in 2013. If it wasn't for Braxton Miller, Abdullah likely would have been a clear-cut winner last season. He'll be seeing the same opportunities he did a year ago because of the question marks at quarterback for Nebraska. The only thing he has to do then is reproduce some very impressive numbers to be in the running.
Melvin Gordon is my favorite running back in the country. He's truly the best of both worlds. I saw he's going to lead the country in rushing yards this season; his efforts awarded him 1,609 yards in 2013. Significantly helping Gordon, in terms of his chances of winning Offensive POY, is a backfield he no longer has to share with James White. It's reasonable to think he could see 250 carries this season. If that's the case, look out.
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