Well, this weekend in the Big Ten conference was one for the books. The Ohio State Buckeyes are for real, taking out Penn State in a matchup of two of the top teams in the nation. The Buckeye defense was even more impressive, limiting the Nittany Lions to a mere 10 second half points to fuel the comeback. Another game that shook up the Big Ten was Northwestern’s wild three overtime win against Michigan State. Iowa and Maryland outlasted Minnesota and Indiana, respectively, in two other closely scored games. Rutgers showed progress in a loss to Michigan, as the Wolverines debuted freshman quarterback Brandon Peters. Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee tossed the game-winning touchdown with under 20 seconds to spare to propel Nebraska past Purdue. Finally, Wisconsin took out Illinois to remain undefeated. What’s going to be interesting to be seen is how the Ohio State win will affect the national rankings. TCU joined Penn State to be the second top-four team to lose this week, so it’s possible see both Wisconsin and Ohio State move up into the spots vacated by the losing teams. With that said, let’s take a look at this week’s top performers in the Big Ten.
Indiana Air Attack
If you watched the Maryland and Indiana shootout, you saw an explosive Hoosier air raid. Quarterbacks Peyton Ramsey and Richard Lagow (who replaced an injured Ramsey) combined to complete 43 of 62 passes for a whopping 410 yards and five scores. The five touchdowns through the air accounted for all of the Hoosier scoring on the day. What’s even more impressive is that three separate Indiana receivers netted double digit receptions. Whop Philyor and Luke Timian each grabbed 13 receptions for 127 and 91 respectively, each also accounting for a touchdown. Senior standout Simmie Cobbs Jr. led all receiving with 138 yards on 10 receptions for two touchdowns on the day.
J.T. Barrett Senior QB Ohio State
Look, if J.T. Barrett isn’t a Heisman candidate after his showing against Penn State, then there is something wrong with the current system. Barrett played lights out, igniting an Ohio State comeback on his way to breaking the Big Ten’s record for career touchdowns thrown. The senior quarterback completed 33 of 39 pass attempts for 328 yards and four touchdowns. If that isn’t enough he also led the Buckeyes in rushing with 95 yards on 17 attempts. Barrett played near perfect football outside of losing a fumble early in the fourth quarter. Three of the four touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter, with the final one coming with a little under two minutes in play remaining. Barrett has now thrown 25 touchdown passes to just one interception on the season, leading Ohio State back into the college playoff picture after an early loss to Oklahoma.
Paddy Fisher Freshman LB Northwestern
How about those Wildcats? I mentioned last week how sneaky good the Northwestern defense is and it held up rather well in what was a dog fight with Michigan State. The Spartans were able to gain 540 yards during the three-overtime game, but it was the turnover margin that made the difference for the Wildcats, forcing three on the day. One of those came at the hands of linebacker Paddy Fisher, who forced two fumbles on the day. The redshirt freshman was all over the place, netting 17 total tackles to go along with the forced fumbles. He also got after the passer, hurrying Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke twice. Most notably on the final play of the game when he closed in on Lewerke to force the game sealing interception. After losing standout linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. last season to the NFL Draft, Fisher has made the transition seamless for the Northwestern defense. Look for the freshman to continue to grow in an underrated Northwestern defense.
Karan Higdon Junior RB Michigan
I wrote a preview ahead of the Michigan-Rutgers matchup and I predicted an upset, in particular due to Rutgers being able to shut down the Michigan run game. Well, I was wrong in the worst way. Karan Higdon dismembered the Scarlet Knight defense to a tune of 158 yards and two scores on 18 attempts. He added one reception for eight yards in the passing game. With the debut of freshman Brandon Peters, the Wolverines relied heavily on the run game, taking the pressure off of the young quarterback. Higdon found the end zone from ten yards out early in the game shaking off numerous Rutgers defenders on his way to the end zone. His longest run of the day came in the fourth quarter to cement the win for the Wolverines. Higdon squeezed through a tight hole in the left side of the Rutgers defense, rushing 49 yards for Michigan’s final score of the day.
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