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The biggest surprise in the Big Ten so far this season might be Ohio State’s secondary

The Buckeye defensive backs have been lights-out in 2016.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“[Biggest surprises in the Big Ten this season?] Ohio State's secondary”

- Brian Bennett, ESPN

The writers over at ESPN covering the Big Ten went over the biggest surprises this season so far. Some of the choices included Jabrill Peppers’ outstanding performances to date this season, Northwestern’s ugly regression, the rise of Wisconsin with a new quarterback to boot, and the turnaround of Nebraska gunslinger Tommy Armstrong. One of the topics, however, was also Ohio State’s secondary. The Buckeyes’ defensive backs have been superb to date and that certainly came as a surprise to most, considering that two of its members are tied for the lead in the FBS for interceptions at three each.

Star safety Malik Hooker has certainly stolen the show when it comes to the secondary, despite tremendous performances by Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore at cornerback. Conley has locked opposing wide receivers down while Lattimore is one of the two defensive backs mentioned earlier. Hooker is the other player with three interceptions to his name. Between those three players and Damon Webb, the secondary has been at its best playing in their ball-hawking nature.

“[Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year] 1. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett

- Austin Ward, ESPN

So far so good for Ohio State and its players. In the ESPN Big Ten award projections, the Buckeyes have a clean sweep for the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year (J.T. Barrett), the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year (Malik Hooker), and of course the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year (Barrett again). The choices are no-brainers at this point in the season. Although its early to hand the award to anyone, these two Buckeyes have made their case in the first four weeks of the season. Barrett has been playing at the level he was two seasons ago in 2014, when he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Hooker, meanwhile, has emerged as a star safety for Ohio State’s defense and has three interceptions so far this season. He alongside the other defensive backs have been a terror for opposing quarterbacks including Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Should Hooker and Barrett continue to dominate in their respective fields, they should have no problem locking up the award lists at the end of the season. And Ohio State will likely find itself in a position to compete for a championship because of it.

“[Big Ten Bowl Projections] College Football Playoff: Ohio State”

- Brian Bennett, ESPN

Another round of Big Ten bowl projections has made its way around. ESPN’s Brian Bennett broke down which teams will end up where according to how the teams have looked thus far. Slotted into the College Football Playoff is Ohio State, led by Urban Meyer and J.T. Barrett. After the Buckeyes walloped Oklahoma on its home field, it makes sense for Ohio State to be the favorite to make it to the playoff after four weeks.

As for the other slots, Wisconsin was chosen for the Rose Bowl while Michigan landed in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Nebraska is currently projected for the Outback Bowl, with Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. Iowa finds itself in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and Minnesota gets in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Penn State gets slotted into the Foster Farms Bowl, while Maryland fills in at the Quick Lane Bowl.

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