What a week in the Big Ten! The Heisman race is down to just a few more games, and boy, did someone make big strides.
Offensive Player of the Week: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan Wolverines
The Heisman campaign heats up for Jabrill Peppers, Michigan’s do-anything all-purpose ultimate Swiss Army assault weapon. Peppers scorched the Iowa Hawkeyes defense for 11 yards on four carries, including a back-breaking 7 yard run that onlookers described as “the most incredible feat of athleticism I’ve ever seen in my life.” The superweapon now has 161 rushing yards on 21 carries for 3 touchdowns to go along with two receptions for three yards.
Runner-Up Offensive Player of the Week: Akrum Wadley, Iowa Hawkeyes
Akrum “The Dread Lobster” Wadley didn’t have the most mind-blowing stat line you’ll ever see, but he accounted for 167 of Iowa’s 230 total yards against one of the best defenses in the nation. With 23 carries for 115 yards and two catches for 52 yards and a score, Wadley powered the Hawkeye offense and allowed them to move the ball just enough to come away with a victory.
Honorable Mentions: Northwestern WR Austin Carr continues to be fantastic, hauling in two touchdowns on 5 catches for 92 yards. Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong Jr led the Cornhuskers to victory just a week removed from a scary hit at Ohio State, going 19 for 27 for 217 and two scores while adding a score on the ground on 9 carries for 61 yards. J.T. Barrett of Ohio State effortlessly put up two touchdowns through the air and two on the ground in a rout of Maryland, while Wisconsin’s Corey Clement ran for three touchdowns against an Illinois defense that played for 42 minutes for the second straight week.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan Wolverines
Though he shines on offense, Jabrill Peppers is primarily a defensive force of nature, and he singlehandedly kept Iowa in check as he racked up five tackles, bringing his total to 54 on the year. Three are sacks and 11 are for losses, and he has 10 pass breakups to his name as well. As an Illinois fan, I know there’s only so many years left until the Butkus Award is renamed to better reflect the greatest linebacker of all time. In fact, Jabrill Peppers may just win the inaugural Jabrill Peppers award.
Runner-Up Defensive Player of the Week: Jaleel Johnson, Iowa Hawkeyes
This is gonna be pretty Iowa-heavy, but they were incredibly impressive and driven by several key players. Most impactful was defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, who led the Hawkeyes with 9 total tackles despite being, you know, a defensive tackle. He had a sack and another tackle for loss: the safety shown early in the highlight video above that got Iowa on the board at last.
Honorable Mentions: Iowa corners Desmond King and Manny Rugamba held the Michigan wideouts in check, taking away the vertical passing threat. Rugamba came up with a big interception as well. Leo Musso picked off two passes for the Wisconsin Badgers while Indiana’s Tegray Scales had 3.5 tackles for loss, helping Indiana hold Saquon Barkley to just 58 yards on 33 carries. Michigan State pitched a shutout with Demetrius Cox adding a pick-six.
Sam Foltz Special Teams Player of the Week: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan Wolverines
The most dynamic return man in the nation torched the Iowa kick coverage units for a 19 yard punt return and a 16 yard kick return. Personally, I don’t even know why anybody ever kicks it to him. It’s just too dangerous.
Runner-Up Special Teams Player of the Week: Ron Coluzzi, Iowa Hawkeyes
Yes. More punting. This is a Big Ten blog. Ron Coluzzi had six punts for a 47 yard average and on multiple occasions pinned Michigan deep in their own territory. He was arguably the most important player of the game for the Hawkeyes in their biggest win of the year.
Honorable Mentions: None, but it’s worth noting that Michigan State had no kick returns against Rutgers.
Play of the Week: Jabrill Peppers
Look at that athleticism. Just like that he’s gone. You don’t see explosiveness like that at the college level very often. You rarely even see it at the pro level. This is just an incredible play by the clear-cut best player in the Big Ten.
Runner-Up Play of the Week: Ron Coluzzi’s Epic Punt
I can’t embed Infinite Looper, so here’s the punt that set up the safety. What a beautiful punt. My goodness. If that doesn’t stir your loins, you are probably on the wrong blog.
Fail of the Week: Michigan Commits Two Straight Running Into The Punter Penalties To Give Iowa A First Down
#Iowa punter's dramatic death now set to appropriate Hollywood music. pic.twitter.com/tmGIhyvbzy— Dr Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) November 13, 2016
Not sure if I’ve ever seen a first down gained this way, but in a game with 431 total yards of offense, every first down is critical and Michigan could ill afford to give this one away by committing the same foul on two consecutive plays.