You know, they always say time flies when you’re having fun. Saturday marked the end of the regular season in Big Ten play. Some teams will move on to play in bowl games while others have suited up for the last time this season. It was a news-filled week to end it all with the firing of Mike Riley in Nebraska after a blowout loss to Iowa. Questions about the health of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett are starting to be raised after he left the Buckeyes bout with Michigan early with a leg injury. The Buckeyes went on to win but Barrett didn’t return, which isn’t good with the Big Ten championship against undefeated Wisconsin coming next week.
Elsewhere across the Big Ten, Michigan State handed Rutgers a loss to end what was a season of progress for the rebuilding Scarlet Knights. Purdue picked up a win over Indiana to become bowl eligible while the Hoosiers’ season is over. Penn State laid a 63-point beatdown on Maryland on its way to a 10-2 finish ahead of its bowl game. Northwestern continued rolling, as it beat Illinois by a wide margin. Wisconsin remained undefeated when it defeated Minnesota. The Badgers will move on to face Ohio State in the Big Ten championship.
It’s a pleasure of mine to be able to bring this Players of the Week segment week in and out for you guys. While it’s sad to see this season come to an end, it’s exciting to see how teams will perform in their respective bowl games. So here we go, one last go around the Big Ten conference to see who out-performed their competition in this week’s edition of Players of the Week.
Jonathan Taylor Freshman RB Wisconsin
If you didn’t know, the Wisconsin Badgers are undefeated heading into the Big Ten conference championship against Ohio State this weekend. The defense has been the main key in the Badgers’ run but their offense hasn’t been any slouch either. Particularly in the run game as Wisconsin has ridden the back of true freshman Jonathan Taylor, who has run his way into Heisman consideration. This week was no different, as the New Jersey native handled 20 carries for 149 yards and a score in a win against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers did well to bottle up the back for the first three quarters before Taylor broke for a 53-yard touchdown run early in the fourth. Ohio State will be the biggest test Taylor has seen yet, but it will all come down to if his offensive line can continue to dominate against a talented Buckeye defensive front.
Sam Hubbard Junior DL Ohio State
🚨 CAREER-HIGH 2.5 sacks, 5⃣ tackles (4⃣ solo) & a forced fumble against TTUN @Sam_Hubbard_ is the B1G Defensive Player of the Week 🏈
Speaking of the talented Ohio State front, defensive end Sam Hubbard had a standout game against the Michigan Wolverines. Hubbard played like a madman, accounting for five tackles, four for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble on the day. The 2.5 sacks were a career high for the junior and brought him to 4.5 total on the year. If the Buckeyes plan on stopping Taylor and the potent Wisconsin run game Hubbard is going to have to play a huge part. He’s known for being strong at the line of scrimmage but if the Badgers are down late he can also add to that sack total.
Akrum Wadley Senior RB Iowa
This game is already bonkers.
For all the running backs the Big Ten has to offer it’s no surprise that Akrum Wadley may not be getting the recognition he deserves. The senior running back took it to Nebraska, rushing for 159-yards and finding the end zone a whopping three times. The Cornhuskers had no answer for Wadley, as two of his touchdown runs came from at least 20 yards out. Wadley also eclipsed 1000 yards rushing in the win for the second straight season, finishing fifth in the Big Ten with 1021-yards. With the win, the Hawkeyes shook off a two-game winning streak and will certainly have a bowl game. With his college career coming to a close, don’t be surprised when you hear his name called on Sundays.
Markell Jones Junior RB Purdue
For everything I said about Wisconsin riding Taylor into the ground Purdue did the very same thing with Markell Jones this weekend. Jones completely broke out, holding the ball an astounding 31 times to the tune of 217 yards on a seven-yard average. To put in perspective how much of a breakout this way, Jones ran for more than 60 yards just twice this season, never eclipsing 74-yards in any game. The junior running back had 159 yards in the second half alone and consistently ran the Boilermakers into the red zone. Although he didn’t find pay dirt his rushing kept Indiana offense off the field and that was a key factor in the victory. The Boilermakers also secured a bowl berth with the win over the Hoosiers to finish 6-5 on the season.
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