College football is back! I’ve said that a lot in the past 10 days, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way the season has started. I’m back this season to write the weekly POTW column, full of biased selections, poorly-thrown shade, boring-ish personal anecdotes, and ill-received critiques of garbage 2000s sports movies.
We’re doing things a bit differently this season for a couple reasons. First, I don’t at all remember how I put this column together last season, so I assume this year will be different. Second, Freshman of the Week is really hard to do and thus ends up really being very vanilla and/or heavily influenced by articles I read elsewhere.
Third, and saddest of all, I’m dropping the (Honorary) Purdue Boner of the Week section. This year OTE will feature two excellent funny-play-focused columns, BigRedTwice’s Fall’s Tarts and a new one by Dead Red focusing on special teams play, which is often hilarious and boner-iffic, entitled Footnotes. Read them both and comment on them both!
The early weeks of the season are sorta silly when putting together this column. Hardly any Big Ten opponents play meaningful games or play teams remotely close to their level. As a result, you get craziness like Rutgers putting up absurd offensive numbers, Maryland scoring more in one game than I think Northwestern scored the entire non-conference season in 2018, and guys you’d expect to win these awards sitting for huge chunks of the second half.
Fear not! Thanks to objectively good stats, the league’s best players continuing to be great players, and my playing favorites/being super biased, you’re going to recognize some of these guys. Let’s get to it.
Offensive Player of the Week: Jonathan Taylor
Running Back - Wisconsin Badgers @ South Florida
16 carries, 135 yards (8.4 avg), 2 TDs - 2 recs, 48 yards, 2 TDs
Jonathan Taylor is starting his third season right where he left off, dominating at South Florida on the ground and, in the most technical sense only, through the air. That’s right, Taylor is catching passes this year, and so far 100% of them result in touchdowns. Taylor caught a screen pass and sliced his way through the defense for a 40-ish yard TD, only to top that (in my opinion) by catching a 5-yard gain and turning it into a second touchdown by powering through two tacklers, spinning, and stretching out for the goal line.
Taylor also ran the ball well, at least on paper. He broke a long run to score the first touchdown of the season, and broke a second long-adjacent touchdown run after what looked like a stumble or near turf tackle behind the line of scrimmage. He’s really, really good.
Honorable Mention - Offensive Player of the Week: Week 1
Isaiah Pacheco - RB - Rutgers uhhhhh Knights? Scarlet Knights?
Big game against an awful team. 20 carries, 156 yards, 4 TDs is a pretty solid day. I don’t know Rutgers’s mascot because they never win one of these awards.
Justin Fields - QB - Ohio State Buckeyes
Big game against a bad team. 18/25, 234 yards, 4 TDs, plus a 51-yard rushing TD. I hate putting him here as much as you hate seeing him here.
Rashod Bateman - WR - Minnesota Golden Gophers
Big half against a
bad team team that would totally beat lots of other Big Ten’s Week 1 opponents! 5 receptions (all in 1st half), 132 yards, 1 TD, plus the offensive play of the week. I hate putting him here as much as you hate seeing him here.
Defensive Player of the Week: Eric Lee, Jr.
Safety - Nebraska Cornhuskers hosting South Alabama Jaguars
4 tackles, 1 pass defended, 2 interceptions, 1 TD
Touchdowns and turnovers are the way to my heart. Any time a defensive player can add points to his team’s score, there’s a good chance he’s getting awarded with at least an OTE Honorable Mention DPOTW. Nebraska did not perform as awesomely as many, mostly Nebraska fans, had hoped, but they did get it together enough to win, and Lee played a rather large role in slowing down the Jaguars juggernaut offense on Saturday.
Sources tell me that Lee was technically the backup, which bodes well for Scott Frost’s defensive depth. I didn’t see the game so I really don’t have anything more to add.
Honorable Mention Defensive Players of the Week: Week 1
Antjuan Simmons - LB - Michigan State Spartans
The Michigan State defense dominated again on Saturday, carrying over its 2018 successes in its home opener against Tulsa. Simmons play a big part, 6 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT.
AK, Simmons’s nominator: He feels like a walking highlight, I’m expecting big things.
Kenny Willekes - DE - Michigan State Spartans
Much like Jonathan Taylor, WIllekes is back and remains good. 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries. I hate that I put two MSU players here.
Matt Henningsen - DE - Wisconsin Badgers
3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 Fat Guy Touchdown!
Special Teams Player of the Week: Logan Justus
Kicker - Indiana Hoosiers “at” Ball State in Indianapolis
4/4 FGs, 50 yard long, 2/2 XP
Justus accounted for fourteen points in a game where his team only won by 10. He extended his career long (previously 44 yards) three times, kicking field goals of 30, 48, 49, and 50, and didn’t miss a kick all day. If you’re a kicker and you want to win this prestigious award, the three biggest factors are (1) accounting for your team’s margin of victory, (2) no misses, and (3) a FG of 50+ yards. Justus nailed all three, so he’s our week 1 STPOTW and wins the coveted “having the Twitter image for this article being an embarrassing high school recruiting photo of you” prize. (ed. note: I couldn’t find a high school photo of him...Indiana fans, get at me with a good one for him. Instead I’m using an uncomfortably close close-up photo)
UPDATE: Thanks to this hero for coming through when I needed him most! I recommend you follow him for his IU takes and his cache of high school recruiting photos:
Honorable Mention Special Teams Players of the Week: Week 1
The Referees - SDSU at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Word on the street is the refs in this game made a crucial holding call to undo an otherwise great and backbreaking kickoff return by the Jackrabbits.
OTE’s Offensive Play of the Week: Week 1
Really an incredible catch and the only choice for this week.
OTE’s Defensive Play of the Week: Week 1
(...but actually, fumble return)— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) August 31, 2019
Official ruling is Zack Baun sack and Matt Henningsen fumble recovery
Either way, it translates to...
WIS 14, USF 0 | 12:58 2Qpic.twitter.com/wTd3XeRg0H
Fat Guy Touchdown will always be the DPOTW around here.
If you read any of the columns last season, you’ll know I had an early and hard crush on Rondale Moore. He probably featured as FOTW, OPOTW, Honorable Mention, or “whoa did you see that play?!?” in every POTW article from 2018. He didn’t make this column, and that felt weird, and WhiteSpeedReceiver and I agreed that he really should get attention on a weekly basis. Thus, Rondale’s Corner was born. I also expect JT(T)’s Hangout to be a thing on weeks where he doesn’t win an award or get an Hon Men.
11 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD; non-noteworthy rushing and returning stats; fumbled once
Dang, look at those receiving stats! Why did Bateman get an Hon Men and Moore didn’t? Not sure, but probably because I didn’t see Moore play. Welcome back to OTE’s Player of the Week!
That’s it for Week 1! I’d love to get some ideas of things to do differently, add, or change. You know I’ll be here in the comments fighting with somebody about something, so leave your ideas there and I’ll definitely incorporate them without giving you credit.
Who’s the best of the best this week?
This poll is closed
Eric Lee, Jr.
Rashod Bateman’s catch
Matt Henningsen’s large TD