Is this a really boring or uninteresting “race” for Big Ten Player of the Year? CJ Stroud has accumulated 2,675 yards on just 273 passing attempts, showing off a 68% completion rate, a 25:5 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 87.9 QBR, whatever that is. That final stat is good enough for him to be ranked #1 in the country. The Ohio State Buckeyes, yet again, have a good passing attack.
Kenneth Walker III “struggled” this past weekend in a sense that you can only apply to the most productive running back in the country. He scraped together 136 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown—middling by his standards, but then his standards include a nation’s best 1340 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns (tied for 3rd in the country) and a 6.8 YPC average (in the top 20 in the country). He also got the “Heisman moment” that CJ Stroud is still lacking, although you’d think he’ll have his time to shine with games against MSU and UM still on the schedule. Plus the conference championship game, assuming he gets that far.
Beyond those two, David Bell is up over 1,000 yards receiving BY HIMSELF already this season. I don’t know if Wisconsin has passed for 1,000 yards as a team this year. I don’t see any defensive standouts in the B1G who might receive Guy Who Wants To Get Attention For Making A Darkhorse POY Or Heisman Pick love, but I’m not even sure what a defensive player would have to do to get that kind of attention in 2021.
All the non-idiotic money is on Stroud or Walker as the Big Ten’s Heisman rep in NYC, and those two, plus Bell, have to be the entire list for Big Ten OPOY. For now, I’m going with Walker, factoring in that (a) he doesn’t play for Ohio State and (b) Stroud has an entire corps of 1st or 2nd-day NFL draftees to throw at. But mostly the OSU thing.
Is there anyone else worth considering? Let me know!
(The joke is that the lead photo is a different David Bell. Plz laugh.)
OTE’s Player of the Week: Week 10
Aidan O’Connell - Quarterback - Purdue Boilermakers
40/54, 536 yards, 3 TDs
Aidan O’Connell alone accounted for more yards than any other Big Ten team’s entire offense (except for Wisconsin but that was against Rutgers so). He passed for more yards against the third-ranked (for now) Michigan State Spartans than he threw for in his two prior games combined. Having David Bell is a boon to be sure, but O’Connell is above at 71% completion rate FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON. He keeps upsetting ranked teams by flinging it nearly 50 times/game and he’ll talk his way into a “CJ Stroud only won Big Ten POY because of the name on the front of his jersey” summary of his season!
Aidan O'Connell's last two games, wins at Nebraska and vs. Michigan State: 74-of-99 passing (75 percent) for 769 yards with five TDs and no interceptions.— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) November 7, 2021
THAT SEEMS PRETTY GOOD, TOM.
Anyway, O’Connell and Purdue have to play Ohio State this coming weekend. I’m sure we won’t see anything crazy like OSU get up big forcing Purdue to throw a ton and I’m sure OSU’s secondary is actually good and not “got shredded by Minnesota and Oregon” bad still, right?
Jaxon Smith-Njigba - Wide Receiver - Ohio State Buckeyes
15 receptions, 240 yards, 1 TD
It’s not easy to shine when you’re part of the same position group as Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and son of former Colts great Marvin Harrison, Marvin Harrison, Jr., but Smith-Njigba did it! And honestly, if you’ve been paying attention to OSU (and why would you? They’ve played in one meaningful game all season and they lost), Smith-Njigba has been doing putting out week after week of performances just a step or two below this past Saturday’s.
OH MY ‼️ JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA 75 YARDS TO THE HOUSE pic.twitter.com/QmB8tbkL9U— 247Sports (@247Sports) November 6, 2021
I didn’t realize Gus Johnson could sound so subdued on a looooooong passing touchdown. He must have some anti-OSU bias!
It’s crazy to think that Ohio State NEEDED an insane game from Smith-Njigba to beat lowly Nebraska, but they really did!* Nebraska has been pushing teams to the brink all season, only to lose for some reason or another, and this past weekend that reason was Smith-Njigba. Hooray for more unstoppable OSU skill position players.
*I guess one of the other future NFL all pros could have stepped up.
Jahan Dotson - Wide Receiver - Penn State Nittany Lions
11 receptions, 242 yards, 3 TDs
At this point I’m not sure what PSU has on offense other than Dotson, but that’s still plenty. Wide receivers who can do, and do do, everything has been a hallmark of the Franklin era at Penn State. Dotson carries that tradition very, very well.
Jahan Dotson turned on the jets for his third TD of the game. He has 189 yards receiving on the day pic.twitter.com/m2PUHxDiy5— StateCollege.com (@StateCollegecom) November 6, 2021
Even against Wisconsin’s elite defense, Dotson was the difference maker. I’m sure Sean Clifford appreciates having a bail out security blanket available whenever he wants!
The Illinois Defense - Every Position - Illinois Fighting Illini
2 interceptions, 6 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, 3 QB hurries, 289 yards surrendered, 6 points surrendered
Sure sure, Minnesota is on its backup backup backup backup (backup?) running back, and sure Minnesota has a terrible QB, and sure Minnesota is saddled with a “exactly as good as the three guys before him” coach for the next seven years, but this is a swarming, dominating performance from Illinois’s defense! Minnesota had some success moving the ball, especially through the air, but Illinois’s timely takeaways and relentless pressure* on Morgan carried the day. Which is good, because a Bielema offense often needs a lot of defensive help.
6 sacks— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) November 8, 2021
1 win for the #famILLy pic.twitter.com/NdftcvyVgK
Good job, Illini. Excellent work upsetting and embarrassing the most puzzling CFB Playoff Initial Rankings inclusion.
*Wait a minute...endless pressure on the QB leading to bad interceptions and a total lack of offense? That sounds like the 2021 Wisconsin offensive line/QB combo!
Beez’z thing he liked seeing this week
Big Ten wide receivers absolutely tore it up this past weekend. In addition to the two guys above, David Bell went 11/217/1 as part of the O’Connell show. Cornelius Johnson went over 100 for the Michigan Wolverines. Samouri Toure tried to hang with Smith-Njigba, going 4/150/1 and catching his own 75-yard TD. Even Wisconsin had multiple players with more than fifty yards receiving. Wisconsin!
It’s been hard to tell this year whether the Big Ten finally has some explosive offenses or just some bad defenses, and it seems like it’s a little of both. It’s refreshing to see a run-run-pass-punt conference finally able to throw handfuls of guys out there who can burn your whole defense and generate some absurd YPC numbers.
Peep the David Bell footwork and balance. @DB3ll // @BoilerFootball pic.twitter.com/oKj9SbzQOJ— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 6, 2021
What’s crazier than the raw stats is the context. For most of these guys there’s nobody else on the team doing much from the receiving position. You’d think it’d be hard to be such a prolific receiver when you’re the team’s only option, but either these receivers are THAT good or Big Ten defensive coordinators, outside of Wisconsin, are actually kinda stupid. Or arrogant.
How are you feeling about your team’s season?
This poll is closed
Not great, even though the results have been good
Not great, because the results have been bad
I’m an Indiana or Nebraska fan, stop asking
Wait, which sport?