What a final week of football we had; though there were only two really competitive games (a third was in progress but we’ll get to that later), one was an instant classic that will live forever. Our highest achievers were as follows:
Offensive Player of the Week: Justin Jackson, Northwestern Wildcats
Though his backfield partner John Moten IV got the Cats up 14-0, it was Justin Jackson who did the heavy lifting to not only keep the Illinois defense on the field but to end the momentum the Fighting Illini had established going into halftime with a backbreaking 54-yard touchdown run in the early 3rd quarter. Jackson finished the regular season with an even 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns
Honorable Mention: PSU quarterback Trace McSorley shredded a demoralized MSU defense in the second half, going 17/23 for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns. Five of those passes were caught by Chris Godwin, who took them for 135 yards and two scores. Leshun Daniels Jr and Akrum Wadley each went over 100 yards for Iowa and combined for three touchdowns. At the ‘Shoe, Michigan’s Amara Darboh had 8 catches for 68 yards including a beautiful effort to snag a touchdown just inches from the ground in overtime. Though his passing numbers were very pedestrian, J.T. Barrett toted the rock 30 times for 125 yards and a score, keeping Ohio State drives moving in the second half. Curtis Samuel had 86 of the most crucial yards from scrimmage you’ll ever see for the Buckeyes.
Defensive Player of the Week: Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeye linebacker put forth a heroic effort in The Game, coming up with a game-leading 16 tackles to keep Michigan’s rushing attack in check, especially in the second half. He added a QB hurry to his tally, which was by far the most tackles he’s put up all year.
Honorable Mentions: OSU defensive back Malik Hooker got the Buckeyes on the board with a 16 yard pick-six, and he’d add seven tackles on that total. On the other side, Michigan’s Taco Charlton was a disruptive force at defensive tackle, getting 2.5 sacks among 9 tackles and blowing up the Buckeye read-option with regularity. Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter had 15 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against Rutgers, and Wisconsin’s Sojourn Shelton picked off two Mitch Leidner passes in the second half of the Axe game.
Sam Foltz Special Teams Player of the Week: Kenny Allen, Michigan Wolverines
A punting battle broke out in Columbus, and though Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston was outstanding, Michigan’s Kenny Allen was the Charles Woodson of kicking things, as he not only had a 47.4 yard average on seven punts including a 67 yard boot but made two field goals and three extra points, missing no attempts on the day.
Honorable Mentions: Johnston had 6 punts for a 46 yard average, while Michael Geiger provided Michigan State with their only points of the game on four field goals. Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti did a good job pinning Minnesota back on 7 punts for a 43 yard average.
Play of the Week: Curtis Samuel To Daylight
This was the game-winning play in the only overtime edition of The Game, and it is executed beautifully. Curtis Samuel deserves credit for executing his cut brilliantly, but it’s Mike Weber’s dominating block of Jabrill Peppers that clears the lane for him to run for the touchdown. Listen to that crunch. Vince Lombardi would have wept openly at the beauty of that sweep.
Honorable Mentions: Just two plays earlier on the same drive, Samuel got his Barry Sanders on. He cut back his right side run, changed directions a couple more times, retreated out of field goal range and then found a seam and created more lanes on the left side to turn a 3rd and 10 into a 4th and 1. Somehow, that didn’t make BTN’s highlight package.
Fail of the Week Part 1: Mitch Leidner’s Incredible Second Half Meltdown
Taking a 17-7 lead into the second half, the Minnesota Golden Gophers just needed for Mitch Leidner not to have a quarterbacking meltdown that would make Wisconsin forget all about Late Career Playoff Brett Favre. Apparently, he took this as a personal challenge, because he managed to complete only two passes to his own team while getting picked off four times.
Fail of the Week Part 2: Jim Harbaugh Throws Fit, Breaks His Toys
Once more for posterity