If someone created a big play on Ohio State's offense this season, chances are J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel were heavily involved.
The Buckeye quarterback and star H-back combined for 51 touchdowns during the regular season, integral parts to the fact Urban Meyer's team finished 11-1. On Friday, the Chicago Tribune named Barrett and Samuel two of four finalists for its Silver Football, given annually to the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. The other two finalists are Michigan's Jabrill Peppers and Penn State's Saquon Barkley.
Each head coach in the conference submits a first- and second-place vote for the award and are not allowed to vote for a player on his own team. According to the Tribune, this year's race is the closest in a long time and voting resulted in the first tie in the award since 2009 when Penn State's Daryll Clark and Michigan's Brandon Graham both received trophies.
Results are set to be announced next week. Former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott won the award a year ago.
Barrett threw for 2,428 yards and 24 touchdowns this season against just five interceptions and also rushed for 847 yards and nine scores. He also set a record for most career touchdown passes earlier this season, then broke 2012/2013 Silver Football winner Braxton Miller's record for career total touchdowns. Barrett is responsible for 100 career touchdowns. The Big Ten named Barrett its Quarterback of the Year on Tuesday for the second time in his career. He also won the award in 2014, the same season he finished second to Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon in Silver Football voting.
Samuel is the only player in the country to have at least 700 yards rushing and 700 receiving. His 704 rushing yards and 822 receiving yards are good for third and first on the team, respectively. The junior from Brooklyn is also responsible for 15 touchdowns this season, eight rushing and seven receiving. Samuel was named first-team All-Big Ten at wide receiver on Wednesday evening.
Peppers plays a multitude of positions for Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines, including linebacker, safety, returner and even on offense. The Big Ten named him its Linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday evening.
Barkley led Penn State to the Big Ten Championship Game, scheduled for Saturday night in Indianapolis. His 1,219 rushing yards are second-most in the conference and 15 rushing touchdowns are tied for the most. He also has 21 receptions this season for 327 yards and two touchdowns. A true sophomore, Barkley earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors on Wednesday.
Ohio State leads all Big Ten institutions with 18 Silver Football winners. Michigan is second with 17 while Iowa is a distant third with 10.