Big Ten Bloggers Week Twelve Review
Each week CFN's Big Ten Bloggers put the previous weekend under the microscope, looking for the Lucky 7
AC is Aaron Calhoun, DC is Dan Cronin, BD is Bart Doan, PH is Phil Harrison, and CM is Chris McKeown.
1. OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin
AC: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin – 38 carries, 224 yards, 2 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD, and 30 total TDs this season. No need to elaborate any more--the stats speak for themselves.
DC: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin – The legend of "Money Ball" grows with each passing week as the star junior rallied his team to a come from behind victory going for 224 yards and 3 total TDs. Ball's monster performance sets up a showdown with Penn State with the Leaders Division crown on the line.
BD: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin – Probably as unanimous as the word gets, Ball rushed for another 224 and became only the 5th player in FBS college football history to score 30 touchdowns in a single season. He probably doesn't get the press that he should. Slap an Alabama helmet on him, all of the sudden he's a Heisman front runner..
PH: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin – He is a running back gone wild and deserves more attention in the Heisman race. If not for his exploits, Wisky would have been in some hot water and Bielema would have been explaining why he lost to "Zook ball."
CM: Montee Ball; RB, Wisconsin – This is probably the fifth time I've listed Ball as the offensive player of the week. Ball was the bright spot for the Badgers on offense, gaining 224 yards on the ground and powering into the end zone on three occasions. He's got 30 TDs on the season now. Wow. Penn State will have their hands full on Saturday.
2. DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
AC: Brian Peters; S, Northwestern – Peters did it all on defense against Minnesota--11 tackles, a pick, a forced fumble, and the subsequent recovery. He also deserves special recognition for standing out against a team that can make any defensive player look like an All-American.
DC: Brian Peters; S, Northwestern – Every night defensive players go to sleep dreaming about having a game like Peters had on Saturday. The standout safety was seemingly everywhere in the win over Minnesota recording 11 tackles, an end zone interception, and forcing a fumble and recovering it. .
BD: Nick Sukay; LB, PSU – It felt like Ohio State's last dance with 'momentum,' having stopped PSU inside the 5 yard line seemingly 40 times. The Buckeyes were working a drive that started inside their one, and were closing in on midfield down one possession instead of the two that the field goal would have made it. Then, Carlos Hyde had the ball popped loose, and Nick Sukay recovered.From there, it was over.
PH: Brian Peters; S, Northwestern – Eleven tackles at the safety spot is impressive enough, but add to it an interception, a forced fumble and recovery, and that's a trifecta that Vegas would be jealous of.
CM: Brian Peters; S, Northwestern – Echoing Phil's sentiments, Peters' tremendous efforts (Le "trifecta" and tackles) on defense helped hold Minnesota to 13 points. Northwestern punched their ticket to a bowl game with their sixth win of the season.
3. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State
AC: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State – He just could not take being passed over for this honor recently, so Fera chose to outdo himself on one of the biggest stages in college football. Fera's two field goals--both career longs--turned out to be the winning points against Ohio State and three punts downed inside the opponents 20 yard line gave the Buckeye offense a long road to traverse all day.
DC: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State – It isn't often that a team's MVP is their kicker/punter, but there is no doubt that Fera has been the difference maker in every one of Penn State's games since he returned from suspension. He kept a shoddy Ohio State offense pinned deep and made a pair of clutch kicks that were the difference in the final score. He needs to have another standout effort this Saturday if Penn State is going to pull off the win in Madison.
BD: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State – Fera once again was just stupid good. Two field goals of 40+, and three punts landing inside the 20. Every week, the guy just brings it from multiple positions. It's hard enough to have an elite punter and kicker, let alone have them in one guy.
PH: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State – Can we just rename the award after Fera? His two FGs were the difference on the scoreboard (each setting a season long make in succession), and his punting exploits kept the jalopy offense of Ohio State deep in its own end all day.
CM: Anthony Fera; K/P, Penn State – Not. Even. Close. As if his career long 43 yard FG wasn't good enough, he topped it with a 46 yarder and a couple of fantastic punts that pinned the Buckeyes deep in their own territory. Fera has been a saving grace for the Nittany Lions this season and he did it yet again in Columbus.
4. COACH OF THE WEEK
AC: Tom Bradley; Penn State – This week, this has everything to do with football. The Nittany Lions had not won in the Horseshoe since Joe Paterno was their coach, so for Bradley to take a team that has gone through so much in the past two weeks into a hostile environment and win a pivotal game, that is saying something. Who knows? Maybe the ‘interim' tag will be removed if Penn State can somehow win the Big Ten.
DC: Tom Bradley ; Penn State – Bradley had his team install a wildcat package this week in an effort to distract his team from Penn State's off the field issues. Now did that pay off or what? The new sets stunned everyone including Ohio State's defense and were an integral part of Penn State walking out of Columbus with a much needed victory. .
BD: Greg Mattison ; Michigan – Once again, Mattison's defense flexed its muscle, holding Nebraska to under 250 total yards of offense and putting the cuffs on an oft explosive offense in a nasty way, en route to a 45-17 evisceration of Nebraska.
PH: Urban Meyer; ESPN – We can still call him a coach right? Urban Meyer made more news than any other coach in the Big Ten or country for that matter towards the tail end of this week. Is he or isn't he the next coach at tOSU? It won't be long until whatever cat is in the bag claws its way out.
CM: Tom Bradley & Co.; Penn State – The last two times Penn State has won in Columbus were 1978 and 2008. After having a week of minimal distractions, the offense, defense and special teams were all prepared for a battle with the Buckeyes. The wildcat offense worked like a gem and the defense made crucial stops when needed.
5. BEST GAME OF THE WEEK: Penn State v. Ohio State
AC: Penn State v. Ohio State – And the Nittany Lions did not even need a hail mary to pull this ‘Best Game of the Week' off.
DC: Penn State v. Ohio State – Unlike previous games of the week this contest didn't feature any thrilling 4th quarter touchdown drives. Instead fans were treated to a defensive battle in the second half with both units making big plays when they were needed. The Buckeyes defense kept them in the game but Braxton Miller and co. couldn't come up with a big play of their own and ultimately fell to Penn State in a thriller.
BD: Penn State v. Ohio State – Senior day in Columbus--PSU needing a win for morale, and just to get the bad taste of unthinkable scandal out of their mouths. It came down to a 4th and 5, and a false start later it was 4th and 10 and eventually a yard short. Old school, Big 10 football happened, and PSU came out ahead in it.
PH: Penn State v. Ohio State – The good news for Ohio State--it seems to be making a weekly appearance with this award. The bad news--It has only won one of those games. Tressel seemed to win these close games--Fickell and gang, not so much.
CM: Penn State v. Ohio State – A nail-biter to the very end, these two teams put on a show that was sure to raise blood pressure. Penn State was victorious, but Braxton Miller is becoming better and better every week. Both teams now have huge games this weekend: Penn State at Wisconsin and Ohio State at Michigan.
6. BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE WEEK
AC: Cornhuskers Shucked – ‘The Black Shirts' left Michigan Stadium with a major black eye after Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint happened. For all the praise heaped on Bo Pelini for being a defensive-minded coach--a rarity in college football these days--Nebraska's defense has given up at least 27 points in six out of eleven games and the 45 scored by Michigan was a season high.
DC: Nebraska's lack of consistency – Playing Nebraska is like a box of chocolates. You never know what team you'll get out of it. It could be the team that dominated Penn State and Michigan State on defense or it might be the team whose defense didn't have a clue against Wisconsin, Michigan and Northwestern. Taylor Martinez might play the dual-threat QB role to perfection or he could just as easily be a turnover waiting to happen.
BD: Ixnay Devin Gardner – A week ago, Denard Robinson was hurt but capable of going back in but pulled. It looked like the embryo stage of a changing of the guard. Scratch that. Shoelace played all of the meaningful snaps, had a fantastic game through the air and on land, and showed the growth this coaching staff probably was looking for.
PH: Illinois hangin' around with Wisky – The way the Illini were cliff-diving off of the conference slate, there wasn't a lot of hope for the Illini to put up much of a fight. Illinois came out playing more physical and disciplined than weeks past and put a scare into the big W. Then Montee Ball happened.
CM: Michigan spanks Nebraska – After being knotted at 10-10 midway through the 2nd quarter, the Wolverines went to town. Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint combined for 221 rushing yards and four TDs on the ground while Robinson also threw for 180 yards and two TDs in a blowout of the Cornhuskers. That Nebraska defense isn't exactly as great as initially advertised, is it?
7. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK
AC: (Un)Happy Valley – I cannot, in good conscience, justifiably put anything else in this space as nothing imaginable could compare to the ongoing situation at Penn State. Out of respect for the victims, this entry will remain like this for the rest of the season.
DC: Pat Fitzgerald running his mouth – Northwestern is bowl eligible thanks to an improbable 4 game win streak, but Coach Fitz seemed a little too proud of his team in the post-game presser as he criticized the media. Given the talent on this roster and the success he's had in recent years 6-6 isn't something Northwestern can be proud of anymore.
BD: Robert Marve, the other side – A week after Marve was all kinds of clutch in clipping Ohio State in overtime, he had a brutal effort against an Iowa team that hadn't won a road game all season. If it was a movie script, even Pauly Shore would have turned it down.
PH: Pur-don't – Hope or no hope? After a win over Ohio State, Purdue looked to be getting on track, then we all remembered that this is Purdue, and Purdue will do what Purdue does. Purdue didn't do much and lost to an Iowa team that did more--correctly. Huh? Next week determines bowl eligibility.
CM: Illinois – Yes, I know, Wisconsin is a great football team. But after a 6-0 start to their 2011 campaign, Illinois seemed to be pretty good themselves. On senior day coming off four consecutive losses, the Illini were desperate for a win against a team that doesn't play particularly well on the road. Unfortunately for Illinois, 30 minutes of football is only half the game.