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Week 8 Big Ten Football Players Of The Week

The best and worst of the week

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now more than halfway through the Big Ten football season, and this was kind of an ugly week for offense. The highest score produced was a 41-spot by Michigan in a game where they held the ball for over 41 minutes. Nevertheless, someone has to win offensive player of the weak week.

Offensive Player of the Week: Austin Carr, Northwestern Wildcats

It feels really weird to say, but Northwestern has put together enough offense to beat people, and Austin Carr is a huge component of that. Clayton Thorson picked apart the Hoosier defense to put up 21 quick points for the Wildcats and was greatly assisted by Carr’s 7 catches for 125 yards, including the touchdown shown above where he made fools of the Indiana secondary.

Honorable Mentions: Well, I might as well give Michigan their due despite their offensive output being a true team effort and a matter of overpowering the Illini front seven. Karan Higdon racked up 108 yards on just eight carries, while Wilton Speight was efficient against an inexperienced secondary going 16 for 23 for 253 and a pair of touchdowns. Wisconsin’s Corey Clement carried the ball 35 times against Iowa, gaining 134 yards and a touchdown to keep the ball away from the Hawkeyes. Let’s also mention Purdue’s DeAngelo Yancey, who put much fear into the Huskers as he caught two first-half touchdowns to give Purdue a 14-10 halftime lead. Michigan superhuman Jabrill Peppers had an incredible 9 rushing yards on five attempts and hauled in a five-yard reception with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

Defensive Player of the Week: Garrett Sickels, Penn State Nittany Lions

The junior defensive end was a force in Penn State’s 24-21 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes, harassing J.T. Barrett all night. He gathered 2.5 sacks among 3.5 TFL’s, totaling 9 tackles. He was part of the committee that got to Barrett on the Buckeyes’ last chance 4th and 23 play, and was collapsing the pocket and clearing lanes for the blitz in the second half.

Honorable Mentions: Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda had 12 tackles, two for loss and a pass breakup. Crucially, he sacked Barrett on 3rd and 10 for a loss of 13 yards to set up the last-gasp 4th and 23. Nebraska safety Kieron Williams had two picks and four tackles with one for a loss. Northwestern’s Kyle Queiro came up with a disgusting interception that destroyed an Indiana drive in the second quarter, and Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt came up with another sack and a half. In addition, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers had two tackles and a pass breakup.

Special Teams Player Of The Week: Rodney Smith, Minnesota Golden Gophers

I’m largely putting him over others because he also gained 111 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, but Rodney Smith also made a tremendous play for the Golden Gophers on a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown right after Rutgers had cut their lead to 1. Check it out near the beginning of the highlight reel.

Honorable Mentions: Minnesota kicker Emmit Carpenter gets a shoutout for making the game-winning kick against Rutgers. Desmond King’s 77-yard kick return was utterly wasted by the Iowa offense, while Purdue punter Joe Schopper gave Nebraska long fields with 5 punts averaging 44.6 yards. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers returned two kicks for 58 spectacular yards.

Play of the Week: Grant Haley’s Blocked Field Goal Return

With Ohio State looking to extend its lead to seven with a field goal try, the Nittany Lions would have to once more keep pace with the Buckeyes on their ensuing drive. They’d not quite gotten there all game, and it looked like the Buckeyes were on their way to scraping by with a win...until Marcus Allen blocked the kick attempt. Grant Haley picked it up and ran it to the house for the go-ahead touchdown, with the point after providing a 24-21 lead that Penn State never relinquished.

Honorable Mentions: Penn State’s Chris Godwin made a hell of a catch in the end zone. Kyle Queiro of Northwestern had the aforementioned pick, in which he straight-up robbed the poor Indiana receiver with just one hand. Let’s give some credit to Malik Turner of Illinois for snagging a jump ball for a touchdown against Michigan to cover the spread. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers had a run that, had he broken a backfield tackle, would have gone for huge yardage.

Fail Of The Week: Michigan State’s Fake Field Goal

Yep. Just gets funnier every time. With seconds left in the first half of a 14-14 game at Maryland, Mark Dantonio’s Spartans lined up to kick a field goal. What they instead did was a doomed shovel-pass fake to kicker Michael Geiger, whose windmill-like spin move was to no avail as he was tackled well short of the end zone. Credit to Dantonio: if you’re going to trainwreck, you might as well go all the way.

Honorable Mentions: Iowa’s coach of the next ten years gave an interesting explanation of his decision to kick a field goal down 8. In his mind, eight points was a two-score deficit. Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough committed three personal fouls in the first eleven minutes of the game, but wasn’t flagged for the rest of the contest...since he was sent away for a targeting penalty. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers has never failed at anything.