Though we’re through seven weeks of college football, there still aren’t that many definite statements we can make about the Big Ten. Unfortunately, one of those statements is that Ohio State and Michigan are the best teams in the conference and only Wisconsin has competed with them so far.
Offensive Player of the Week: Justin Jackson The Ball Carrier, Northwestern Wildcats
Another statement that can unequivocally be made is that no team has a workhorse quite like Justin Jackson The Ball Carrier. The Northwestern halfback carried 34 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns and played a critical part in keeping the ball out of Michigan state’s hands. With 143 attempts through 6 games, Jackson averages more carries per game than all but four backs in the country. Somehow, San Diego State has given stud back Donnell Pumphrey 24 more carries through the same number of games, but I digress. Jackson is THE feature back in the Big Ten, as no back accounts for more touches. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is second in the conference with 117 attempts, which is a light Jackson day (26) short of Jackson’s total.
Honorable Mentions: Austin Carr (Northwestern WR) hauled in 11 passes for 130 yards and two scores, while his counterpart RJ Shelton (Michigan State WR) gained 190 yards on 7 catches with two scores. Corey Clement (Wisconsin RB) carried 25 times for 164 yards against a tough Ohio State defense, and Iowa had two backs break 150 yards against Purdue with Akrum Wadley totalling 170 and LeShun Daniels getting 156.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jack Cichy, Wisconsin Badgers
The junior linebacker was all over the field in Wisconsin’s overtime loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes, gathering 15 tackles and a sack, forcing a fumble along the way. He was a force, preventing the big plays the Buckeyes have made their bread and butter. We choose to salute his valiant effort in this heartbreaking loss.
Honorable Mentions: Freshman safety Patrick Nelson (Illinois) had 14 tackles and half a sack against Rutgers, while senior corner Darius Mosely recorded four tackles, recovered a fumble and took a tip-drill interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Northwestern DE Ifeadi Odenigbo continued to terrorize quarterbacks, adding two more sacks to his league-leading total while forcing a fumble. Antoine Winfield Jr’s game-icing pick-six for Minnesota merits a mention as well.
Sam Foltz Special Teams Player Of The Week: Solomon Vault, Northwestern Wildcats
As there were no spectacular kicking performances, one single play gets Solomon Vault the nod. Michigan State had scored to cut the Northwestern lead to two, but then Vault fielded the kick on the hop and took it 95 yards for a touchdown that put Michigan State back down two scores again.
Damn, Vault got there fast.
Play of the Week: Ohio State Defensive Line Overwhelms Wisconsin
Just take in the entirety of the highlight reel from what may be the best Big Ten game of the year so far. At the end, you’ll see the play I’m talking about. Fourth and goal for Wisconsin, who needs a touchdown to keep pace with Ohio State in overtime. The ball is snapped and the Buckeyes absolutely swarm Alex Hornibrook, who can’t get the pass off and is sacked to end the game.
Honorable Mentions: Vault’s return above; Nebraska’s Aaron Williams picked off Richard Lagow to end Indiana’s upset bid; don’t miss this incredible tip-drill catch by Brandon Reilly of Nebraska. Last but certainly not least, behold the second Rutgers touchdown in Big Ten play, in which Giovanni Rescigno shotputs the ball to a wide open Nick Arcidiancono for the most Italian touchdown of the day.
I also seriously considered naming Purdue’s firing of Darrell Hazell the Play of the Week.
Fail of the Week: Purdue Has Very Special Teams
This would have been fail of the week coming from anyone, but it seems so apropos that Purdue committed this particular atrocity in Darrell Hazell’s final game. A fitting eulogy for the Hazell era: two players collide fielding a kick, resulting in a kneeldown inside the 1 yard line.
Honorable Mentions: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights’ ball control in general struggled mightily, generating seven points on seven trips inside the Illinois 25. This proved to be the difference in the game, as Illinois, with a clearly hurting Chayce Crouch, made little effort to score points in the second half.
Also, I must post this:
Tim Beckman used to coach with Urban Meyer. Guess now we know where he got that move.