Every week in the Big Ten, there are outstanding young men playing football for our entertainment, and so we at OTE feel that it is only right to recognize the best and the brightest of these. Here now, the week 1 winners:
Offensive Player of the Week: Tre Bryant, Nebraska RB
In a closer-than-anticipated game against Arkansas State, Tre Bryant ran for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown, setting a career high for rushing yards and topping the Big Ten rushing chart for the week.
Honorable Mention goes to Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns against Akron.
Defensive Player of the Week: Joe Ferguson, Wisconsin Safety
The redshirt senior from Madison brought the third and final interception from Utah State all the way back, going 99 yards to paydirt.
Honorable mention goes to Maryland’s Jermaine Carter, Jr., who recorded 7 tackles, including 2 sacks, in the Terps’ upset win over Texas.
Special Teams Players of the Week: Nebraska’s JD Spielman and Penn State’s DeAndre Tompkins
While I’m breaking from OTE tradition by not singing the praises of Big Ten punters, I believe that if you return any kind of kick for a touchdown, you’re having a better day than most punters could ever dream of. JD, DeAndre, take a bow. Punters, you’re on notice: you have to be more impressive in the future to make this column.
Fail of the Week: Tim Zaleski, Wyoming Punter
OK, we’re cheating a little bit on this one, but it did happen in a Big Ten game, and really, this was going to happen (especially because this is OTE, and we love us some punters).
When your entire job is to get a foot on the ball, and you can’t quite pull that off, you have, in fact, FAILED.
Dishonorable Mention this week goes to multiple Big Ten teams sending top quality players out for their special teams plays, risking potential injury to starters (like Saquon Barkley) and actual injury to players who very easily could have started (like Indiana’s Nick Westbrook, who tore his ACL on the opening kickoff against Ohio State). This isn’t the NFL, where you only have 53 guys available week to week; this is college, where most teams are looking at easily 80+ players, many of whom are not first string offense or defense, and could very easily play on special teams. Of course, this is not likely to stop many coaches from running out their best and brightest on special teams, but it should at least give them a moment of pause.
Good Karma of the Week: Iowa’s new tradition
The University of Iowa built a children’s hospital near Kinnick Stadium, with the top floors of the hospital easily overlooking the stadium itself. Thanks to the brilliant idea of a couple of young Hawkeye fans, between the first and second quarters, the Hawkeye fans in the stadium now wave to the kids in the hospital watching the game from above. Good on the Iowa athletic department, and everyone else involved in making this happen. #ForTheKids