Offensive Players of the Week
RB Drake Johnson - Michigan
Is it really possible that the offensive player of the week is a member of Michigan's beleaguered offensive unit? Or more surprisingly, that there was more than one worthy candidate from the Maize and Blue? Perhaps that's the impact of playing against Indiana's defense. But opponent aside, Drake Johnson & Amara Darboh both deserve recognition for their breakout performances Saturday. Darboh provided the reliable second receiving option that's been missing in Ann Arbor this season, setting career highs in receptions (9) and yards (107), while finding the end zone on a 12-yard reception from Devin Gardner. Johnson's performance, however, was even more noteworthy, rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, more than doubling his career total coming into Saturday's game. Coming off a torn ACL suffered in last year's season opener, Johnson has seen little action this season. Watching his performance Saturday, you'd be forgiven for asking why that's been the case. Sure, Indiana's defense makes a lot of people look good, but Johnson did more than provide a spark, he hit the hole in a way neither Derrick Green nor De'Veon Smith has done all season. Time will tell if Johnson's performance was the result of playing against an inferior defense or if it was a sign of things to come. But you would think after Saturday's performance, he's at least earned the right to prove whether the latter is the case.
-- Brian Gillis
Defensive Player of the Week
LB Marcus Trotter - Wisconsin
It must be a little difficult when you work really hard over your college career to earn a spot in the starting lineup and the caveat is, "Oh by the way, you have to replace Chris freaking Borland." Trotter has done an admirable job though, and he contributed again at Rutgers on Saturday. His interception of Gary Nova in the first half was his first of the season and it set up a Rafael Gaglianone field goal. Trotter also contributed a sack and four tackles in a game dominated by the entire Badger defense. All that was missing was a vintage Borland suplex, but Trotter's predecessor took matters into his own hands the next day.
-- MC ClapYoHandz
Special Teams Players of the Week
K Brad Craddock - Maryland
With a game-winning 43-yard field goal against Penn State on Saturday, Craddock solidified his status as a contender for the Lou Groza Award. He's a perfect 14-for-14 for the season, and while a 57-yard strike against Ohio State was nice, we know how voters value the "clutch" kicks more than really long ones that don't appear to impact the game. Well, Craddock had a huge impact in Maryland's win over Penn State, and that ought to be enough to put the Australian kicker squarely on the national radar.
-- Aaron Yorke
K Sam Ficken - Penn State
While Ficken may not have the range of Craddock, he's been a fun zero-to-hero story for Penn State. We'll never forget his groan-inducing performance at Virginia two years ago, but nowadays Ficken is as automatic as they come. His 4-for-4 performance in Saturday's loss highlighted his transformation into one of the nation's top kickers, especially with three of the four tries coming from beyond 40 yards out. With Penn State's offense continuing to underwhelm, Ficken's leg may well make the difference when it comes to Penn State's bowl eligibility.
-- Aaron Yorke
LB Ben Niemann - Iowa
Do you like grit? I mean really like grit? What about hustle? What about high motors? Well then, let's talk about Ben Niemann, 6'3", 205-pound true freshman linebacker who I'm confident in saying has never seen the field other than on special teams. Down 17-0 in the first quarter, Northwestern was forced to punt from their own 17 following a Trevor Siemian sack by Louis Trinca-Pasat (one of three for LTP). It was at that point when Niemann blew past his defender and pulled off arguably the most difficult sequence in football. He blocked Chris Gradone's punt, picked it up and ran into the endzone, giving Iowa a 24-0 lead (The block/scoop/score is the difficult sequence, not the Iowa scoring part...although that can be pretty difficult). He had no other notable stats of the day but when a special teams player scores a touchdown, he's POTW material.
-- Mike Jones