Each week, a new player separates himself from the pack and becomes one of the highlights of Big Ten play. This past Saturday, there were a lot of worthy candidates to win player of the week honors in the conference.
With each week becoming more critical and each game being just as important as the last contest, these players on Saturday not only helped their teams to victory, they solidified themselves as the best at their position, if only for one week however.
Although the Big Ten hasn’t been as strong of a conference this season in football, there’s no denying the excitement each week as there appears to be no team running away from the herd in either the legends or leaders division. This doesn’t include Ohio State and Penn State because of their postseason ineligibility.
Montee Ball is now the rushing touchdown leader in the Big Ten with 72 career touchdowns after his performance against Indiana. Ball, who won his fifth Big Ten offensive player of the week honor, rushed for a career-high 247 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns. This is the type of performance was expected out of Ball throughout this season, and although he hasn’t been the player he was last season, Ball will need to carry this Badgers team to another conference championship game in Indianapolis.
Jake Ryan of Michigan was named Big Ten defensive player of the week for his efforts against Illinois on Saturday. The sophomore linebacker matched his career-best of 11 tackles against the Fighting Illini and had 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble to help the Wolverines post its first shutout of the season.
It’s safe to say that kicker Mike Meyer is the best player for the Iowa Hawkeyes this season. Meyer won his second Big Ten special teams’ player of the week honor this season, third overall, for his four field goal performance against Michigan State. Meyer has made 13 consecutive field goal attempts this season and ranks second in the countryin field goals made per game at 2.33.
Northwestern freshman cornerback Nick VanHoose won his first Big Ten freshman player of the week award for his performance against Minnesota on Saturday. VanHoose who has struggled at times this season, broke up three endzone passes against the Golden Gophers and had three tackles to help the Wildcats win its sixth game this year and become bowl-eligible. The Wildcats will look to build on this impressive win as they welcome Nebraska on Saturday and will sport their alternate black jerseys at home.