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Week 1 BIG Ballers List - Way to Go Wildcats Edition

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It's the Week One edition of the best players in the BIG Ten, otherwise known as the BIG Ballers. Week One is in the books. There were some big plays and big players. And there were some stinkers too...but we won't dwell on them. Rather, let's dig into the best performances this week. Oh and Beer...we review two microbrews from Jacksonville Florida.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Week One of the 2015 Big Ten Football Season is almost in the books. What a week. What a goddam week…

/sobs uncontrollably about the Temple loss.

Sorry, I just needed a moment there. The first order of business is to congratulate Northwestern on its win over Stanford. I think the words of the esteemed Bshim23.1 summed up the majority of our feelings when he said, "Stanforder 35, Tarpwesterner 17".

Hell even Northwestern’s "writer", MNWildcat, had this to say in his WIWITNC piece:

…the 'Cats could go a long way to prove that they're worthy of bowl eligibility in 2015 by putting a nice little scare in the Cardinal. Obviously I want the 'Cats to win, but realizing that this experience, ground-and-pound offense is a daunting task for a thin Northwestern DL, seeing the Purple and White hang around would go a long way to shoring up concerns looking ahead.

Well, MNWildcat, if this isn’t a fluke, then your bowl outlook is pretty good. Northwestern gets the nod for the Team Ballers of the Week. Fitz used his offseason well. He got his team primed and ready to play. The "ground and pound offense" of #21 Stanford never found the end zone. That’s was well done.

Now let’s talk about some great individual efforts:

Illinois Fighting Illini: Quarterback Wes Lunt threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter as the Illini showed us what a BIG team is supposed to do to patsies. Lunt went 11 of 19 for four touchdowns and a modest 168 yards passing. He led all BIG passers with a rating of 199.0.

I also want to take a minute to mention the Illinois secondary. They combined for three picks on the day. That’s the way to treat a cupcake boys.

Indiana Hoosiers: The Hoosiers started the 2015 season against the fighting Salukis of Southern Illinois. Another cupcake game, but this one almost got away from Indiana. But hey, a win is a win right?

Running back Jordan Howard had a big day, with 20 carries, 145 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Ricky Jones had a big day for the Hoosiers too, catching six balls for 186 yards and one touchdown.

Iowa Hawkeyes: Iowa can be proud of this cupcake beat-down on Illinois State. Ferentz didn’t let the Illinois State team off the hook at all, going for it on three fourth downs and making two. I didn’t see that one coming…

Let’s start with an outstanding defensive lineman, Drew Ott. He had two sacks for -20 yards on the day.

Iowa’s quarterback looked sharp too. C. J. Beathard (sorry, the 16 year old boy in my head still snickers every time I say his name) looked good. He was 15 of 24 for 211 yards and a touchdown through the air. He also ran 8 times for 26 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back LeShun Daniels Jr also looked good. He ran for 26 carries for 123 yards. That was the best game of his college career. In the entire 2014 season, he played in five games, rushed fifteen times for a total of 49 yards. Congratulations Mr. Daniels.

Maryland Terrapins: Speaking of cupcake beat-downs, Maryland turtle stomped the hapless fightin’ spiders of Richmond. The Terps put up 50 points before taking their foot off the gas. Richmond scored two touchdowns in the end, but they were against a defense made up of the water boy, four tennis players, and the women’s volleyball team.

Defensive line play was excellent for Maryland. Quinton Jefferson wrecked Richmond, with six tackles and two sacks for -17 yards.

Running back Brandon Ross had a huge game, with 150 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He topped the BIG in rushing yards this week. To put that in perspective, Ross rushed 85 times for just 419 yards last season.

Another Terp had a personal best yesterday. Will Likely blew up. He had 223 yards on eight returns, nearly matching his return yards total from all 13 games last year. For additional perspective, his return yards broke a BIG record set by Nile fucking Kinnick himself nearly 80 years ago.

That record is "Likely" to stand for another 80 years. Nice job kid.

Michigan Wolverines: Two Michiganders led the BIG in receptions this week. Both Jake Butt (snicker) and Amara Darboh had eight receptions apiece for 93 yards and 101 yards, respectively. That was good enough for fifth and sixth in the conference. They both had touchdowns in the losing effort to the Utes.

Michigan State Spartans: In a tougher game than expected against Western Michigan, Sparty still conquered. Redshirt freshman Madre London had 59 yards on 13 carries, with two touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge had a career night on just four catches for 117 yards. He only had 358 yards on 29 catches all last year and 194 yards on 22 catches in 2013.

Riley Bullough topped the BIG with three sacks for -13 yards. Shalique Calhoun and Joel Heath each had a sack too.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: After Northwestern’s win, I think Minnesota’s loss to TCU was the next best performance in the BIG. The number two-ranked team in the country should have spanked the Gophers by several touchdowns, not squeak out a six-point win.

Defensive back Eric Murray forced a fumble and picked off a pass, as well as made eight tackles. And for you true BIG Ten Fans, Minnesota’s punter did a fantastic job. He punted seven times for 318 yards. To put that in perspective, Penn State’s punter kicked 9 times for 350 yards…

Ohio State Buckeyes: Again, I think we all expected this. The hapless Hokies defense wasn't a match for the speed and power of the Buckeyes offense. Ohio State gashed them for some huge gains. There four different Buckeyes had runs over 20 yards...only one of whom wasn't a current or former quarterback.

Ezekiel Elliott ripped off an 80 yard run for a touchdown early in the game. He finished the game with 122 yards and a touchdown.

But he was just one weapon last night. Cardale Jones ran for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown. Braxton Miller ran for over 60 yards and a touchdown.His long was 53. J.T. Barrett ripped off a 40 yard run. It was brutal and it didn't stop there. The Buckeyes killed the Hokies through the air too.

The Hokies gave up pass plays of 20 yards or more six times to four different wide receivers. Braxton Miller change my mind tonight. I thought his injury and losing his starting position would affect him. If it did, it just made him work harder. This guy is a serious baller. He had almost 80 yards on two catches and a touchdown that was unreal. His spin move broke the ankles of all of the Hokies secondary.

This one wasn't close and everyone who doesn't play the Buckeyes this year should breath a sigh of relief. This team is loaded on offense. And while I think they can be beaten...I'm not sure who's got the guns in our conference to pull it off.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: This was a tough game for the Huskers. To lose on a Hail Mormon (now called the Memorial Miracle by BYU fans). However, there were some good take-aways. Nebraska's offense looked good. Jordan Westerkamp had a good day, with seven catches for 107 yards and a TD.

In all, three recievers caught touchdowns and Armstrong only threw one pick. On the ground, the Huskers struggled, with a total of just 126 yards and one TD. To put that in perspective, Ohio State's waterboy had better numbers.

Northwestern Wildcats: Running back Justin Jackson rushed for 28 times for 134 yards. Defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo made three tackles, 1.5 of them were on the quarterback, behind the line of scrimmage. Senior safety Traveon Henry made eight tackles, including one sack.

Much of the credit for this strong defensive stand goes to linebacker Anthony Walker. He had the other half of Odenigbo's sack. He's the leader of the defense for Northwestern and he showed up big this week.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Nope. None. You embarrassed your conference. The only reason the score was not worse is that Rhule is a fucking alumnus and took pity on your sorry asses. Get your helmets on and go run some laps. Not you Donovan...you're doing up downs until they are done.

Purdue Boilermakers: Hell, I’m sorry Purdue fans. That one sucked. And take it from me, I know suck when I see it. Not too much to talk about here, unfortunately. I thought Markell Jones’ 12 carries for 72 yards and a TD were good. I liked some things, others not so much.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: We’re going back to the cupcakes now. Rutgers rolled hapless Norfolk State. The Scarlet Knights went five of nine on third downs and 2 of 3 on fourth downs. They had their way with the not so Sparty Spartans.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano threw four times for four completions, three touchdowns, and 138 yards. In 2014, Laviano played in five games. He threw 28 times with 11 completions for 107 yards.

Wide receiver Leonte Carroo had a big day, three receptions for 129 yards. Oh, and each catch was a touchdown.

Four members of the defense recorded sacks. Defensive linemen Jimmy Hogan, Kemoko Turay; linebacker Quentin Gause; and defensive back Andre Hunt all got to the Norfolk State quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. I saw Turay’s sack and he looks fast, really fast.

Oh shit Hackenberg, I'd call in sick that saturday.

Wisconsin Badgers: Whelp, I think we all saw this one coming. One thing I did not see coming was Wisconsin rushing for a combined 40 yards TOTAL. Woof.

This was a tough loss. Defense gashed on the ground by a big back. Kind of like watching the Wisconsin of old against a weaker opponent. Only this time, Wisconsin played the part of the weaker opponent. We’ll check in with you guys next week. I expect some standout players, once you guys get into the easier part of your schedule. However, Bama is the real deal and it showed.

Big Ballers of the Week - Offense, Defense, and Team

Okay, now for the BIG Offensive Baller of the Week...we had some strong contenders here. Obviously, this could go to any number or Buckeyes. However, I think the biggest surprise was Indiana's Jordan Howard. It's hard to argue against a 145 yard, three touchdown effort. Nice job Jordan

Defensive BIG Baller of the Week goes to Minnesota's Eric Murray. His game kept the score close. It was an outstanding individual effort that came up just short. Excellent work Eric.

I think you already know the BIG Ballers of the Week Team. It was clearly the Northwestern Wildcats. The coaching, the scheme, and the execution all came together to upset a top 25 Stanford team in the 2015 Nerdbowl. Great game all...now don't derp an easy one.

Now let’s talk about the fun stuff – BEER!

I went with some local brews from the Intuition Ale Works and Bold City Brewery in Jacksonville, Florida. I drank Intuition’s Jon Boat Ale and Bold City’s Mad Manatee India Pale Ale. And believe me when I say that I drank a lot of them.

The Jon Boat is kind of basic beer. Drinking it very cold is the way to go. Mad Manatee is a good IPA, hoppy and bitter. It stays on your palate.  I drank it with some serious hot wings (homemade of course), and it held its own well.

I’ll be drinking a whole lot more this season, so send me some suggestions in the comments. Good week of practice this week boys, then it’s back to the gridiron to cream some cupcakes. I fucking hope so, anyway.

Your Friend,

Townie