What a weekend to open the 2016 college football season. The Big Ten went 12-2 and took down a top-10 SEC team. Lovie Smith and DJ Durkin each started off their respective eras with 52-3 wins. Indiana did things on defense. Purdue even won! Here are the staff picks for the best (and some of the worst) of Week 1.
Offensive Player of the Week: J.T. Barrett, Ohio State Buckeyes
Difficult to dispute this one. The Buckeye quarterback was so confident in his ability to dismantle the Bowling Green Falcons that he spotted them a touchdown, throwing a pick six on his first attempt. His next six touchdowns went to the Buckeyes as part of 349 yards on 21 completions from 31 attempt. He would add 6 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground, giving him sole responsibility for six net touchdowns, seven touchdowns for Ohio State and eight total touchdowns. Barrett is out to prove once and for all that he ain't got no weenie arm and this is a good way to start that proof.
Honorable Mentions: Curtis Samuel, RB Ohio State: 9 receptions for 177 yards and 2 TD's, plus 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground; Justin Jackson The Ball Carrier, RB Northwestern: all of the offensive output for the Cats was provided by his three touchdowns on a relatively light day with only 23 carries.
Defensive Player of the Week: Anthony Nelson, Iowa Hawkeyes
The redshirt freshman defensive end lived up to that hype video in his first start, anchoring an otherwise unimpressive defensive performance against the Miami Redhawks with six tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a pass breakup. Those fumbles set up Iowa to extend their lead and this was an impressive debut for Drew Ott's replacement on the end of the line.
Honorable Mentions: Malik Hooker, Ohio State Safety: snagged two picks; Tegray Scales, Indiana LB: 4 tackles and a pick-six, made more impressive by the fact that he plays for Indiana!
Sam Foltz Special Teams Player of the Week: Rafael Gaglianone, Wisconsin Badgers
Wearing the number 27 as a tribute to Sam Foltz, Gaglianone hit all four kicks (3FG and 1XP) in Wisconsin's upset of the LSU Tigers, which included two field goals longer than 45 yards. This included the 47-yarder that would prove decisive with under four minutes to go.
Honorable Mentions: Blake Gillikin, Penn State punter: 6 punts for a 47-yard average; Joey Julius, Penn State kicker for hustling to make this tackle on a return man.
Play of the Week: D'Cota Dixon's Game-Ending Interception
There's not much competition for this heads-up play by Wisconsin's D'Cota Dixon, which sealed a huge win for Wisconsin against LSU with 57 seconds left and one timeout for the Tigers. He'd pay a steep price for his terrific play when despicable player and human turnstile Josh Boutte of LSU delivered a late cheap shot to his head that almost certainly got the Cincinnati Bengals interested in him. All of the shame on you, Josh Boutte. Your job is literally called "guard," but you offered no protection for your backfield all game. What you should have done was sit down and dig into that big steaming slice of humble pie you were served in Green Bay and maybe resolved to simply become a better football player. What you did instead was channel your shame into recklessly endangering another football player who'd done nothing but make a great play.
Fail of the Week: Clayton Thorson's fumble
Easily the most bizarre play of the Big Ten slate this weekend was this crucial action in Northwestern's loss to the Western Michigan Broncos. Down one point with three minutes to go, the Cats snapped the ball at the 6 yard line and ran a QB bootleg with Clayton Thorson getting around the edge. He was met inside the 1 yard line by two defenders, one of whom stripped the ball from him. As the ball hurtled across the goal line and towards the sideline, WMU's Davontae Ginwright laid out to make a mind-boggling play, attempting to save Northwestern from a turnover by throwing the ball back inbounds before landing out of bounds. On replay review, he was controversially ruled to have stepped out before getting rid of the ball. I'm not sure how they made that conclusion, but because they did, Thorson locks up Fail of the Week for committing an absolute back-breaker of a turnover. The Son of Thor was unable to hoist Mjolnir and all of Asgard gave Thor some serious side-eye.
Honorable Mentions: Bart Houston for throwing a pick-six in the third quarter to get LSU back in the game; senior Drew Wolitarsky for this brutal muffed punt; Rutgers in general for allowing Washington to cover the spread in the first quarter.