Some team-effort blowouts and some close games featured several great performances. Let’s get to it.
Offensive Player of the Week: Saquon Barkley, Penn State Nittany Lions
Iowa kept it to a one-score game through nearly 20 minutes, but the rout was officially on when Saquon Barkley kicked in the afterburners and took this run to the house. He finished with 211 total yards on 21 touches, adding a 44-yard touchdown catch to his 167 rushing yards. The Hawkeyes could not stop the shifty back, whose speed and change-of-direction skills make him a blast to watch.
Honorable Mentions: A less heralded shifty little back in Kendrick Foster provided a ground game for the Fighting Illini, gaining 146 yards on just 17 carries with 2 touchdowns. Austin Carr continued to do a fantastic job of fooling people into thinking Clayton Thorson is good, hauling in 12 for 132 and a touchdown to put up what’s beginning to feel like a typical line for him. Michigan QB Wilton Speight embarrassed Maryland for 362 yards on 19 of 24 passing, while J.T. Barrett tossed 4 touchdowns against the hapless Huskers. Two of those went to Buckeye runningback Curtis Samuel, who had 137 yards receiving. Both Indiana and Purdue had quarterbacks throw for over 390 yards, with Richard Lagow getting a win as well and David Blough falling short. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers put the team on his back, taking two crucial carries for nineteen all-important yards without which Michigan might not have been able to hold off the Terps.
Defensive Player of the Week: Tre Watson, Illinois Fighting Illini
The sophomore linebacker from Florida has made tremendous progress since struggling against Purdue and he proved it by racking up 16 tackles (1.5 TFL) and a pass breakup for a Fighting Illini defense that spent nearly 42 minutes on the field. Despite defending nearly 90 plays to that point, the defense had one more stop in them and Illinois came up with the third win of the Lovie Smith era.
Honorable Mentions: The entire Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan defenses deserve a shout-out as units. Both Malik Hooker and Damon Webb recorded pick-sixes for the Buckeyes, while among Jason Cabinda’s eight tackles was this stuff of C.J. Beathard on fourth down. Michigan’s Ben Gedeon had 11 tackles with 3 for loss and Delano Hill grabbed 2 picks and 6 tackles. Minnesota’s Blake Cashman managed 3 TFL’s and two sacks among 5 tackles and didn’t even get ejected from the game. Jabrill Peppers made five tackles including one decisive TFL against Maryland and his mere presence on the field intimidated the Terrapins into mistakes.
Sam Foltz Special Teams Player Of The Week: Emmit Carpenter, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Carpenter scored 14 points for the Gophers in a 13 point win. He did so with 5 extra points and field goals of 28, 52 and 53 yards. Those are his two longest on the year, and he’s 16 for 18 on field goals and 35 for 35 on extra points on the season.
Honorable Mentions: Jabrill Peppers had a 14-yard kickoff return that broke the game wide open.
Play of the Week: Jeff George Jr. to Sam Mays
Nobody gave me any compelling enough alternatives, so I’m going with this one. A game-winner from a remarkably unheralded 3rd-string two-star freshman to the 7th wide receiver on the spring depth chart to take the final lead against last year’s Big Ten champs.
I would also like to point out the final fourth-down stand for the Fighting Illini because four timeouts were called on that play, one by Mark Dantonio and then three by Lovie Smith. He successfully iced Damion Terry, who ran straight into the middle of the line for some reason.
Honorable Mention: The explosiveness of Jabrill Peppers’ electrifying 13-yard carry was such that it sparked a debate over the merits of Peppers vs. Saquon Barkley on BTN.
Fail of the Week: Referee Signals Touchback For Some Reason
Watch it again. Look at the side judge at the goal line. His initial signal indicates an interception and a touchback.
Honorable Mention: Maryland, for bothering to take the field against Jabrill Peppers. The Heisman voters are likely seeing if they can retroactively award Peppers the trophy for 2014 and 2015 as well as for this year.