Miller, Martinez enter Big Ten Player Rankings

Miller, Martinez enter Big Ten Player Rankings

With Week 1 behind us, it’s time for my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. Again, I’m doing these a little different this year. Whereas I used to rank the top 10 players – a practice that was tough due to all the talent on both sides of the ball – I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.

Why six of both? Because it opens up the field, plus there are six teams in each division. So, consider offense the Legends Division and the defense the Leaders Division, or vice versa.

OFFENSE
1. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Not only did Ball cross the goal line for the 21st consecutive game, he also eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau (120) for the 16th time during the span.
Week 1 stats: 32 car., 120 yards 1 TD; 3 rec., 31 yards
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State – Bell opened the season with an absolute bang, totaling 265 yards and two touchdowns. Now, just imagine what he’ll do once Andrew Maxwell and the line get things figured out.
Week 1 stats: 44 car., 210 yards, 2 TD; 6 rec., 55 yards
Previous ranking: No. 3

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Still a work in progress as a passer, Miller ran for an Ohio State quarterback record 161 yards in his first game in Urban Meyer’s system. The numbers could have been better, too, if it weren’t for leg cramps.
Week 1 stats: 14-24, 207 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 17 car., 161 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking: NR

4. Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska – The knee injury that knocked Burkhead out in the first quarter Saturday is a concern, but the fan favorite did run for 68 yards and a touchdown on three carries before heading to the sideline.
Week 1 stats: 3 car., 68 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking: No. 4

5. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – Few, if any, quarterbacks are going to have success against Nick Saban’s Alabama defense. Robinson sure didn’t, and that’s a concern based on his unimpressive track record against top defenses.
Week 1 stats: 11-26, 200 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT; 10 car., 27 yards
Previous ranking: No. 2

6. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – As unbelievable as Martinez’s career day was Saturday, it’s too soon to say this is the new Martinez and that he’s figured out all that ailed him as a passer. Keep it up a couple more weeks, and then it’s legit.
Week 1 stats: 26-34, 354 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT; 6 car., 10 yards
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin

[BTN.com: See Tom Dienhart’s latest Big Ten Power Rankings]

DEFENSE
1. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue – Short blows up lines, plain and simple. And that includes when the opposing kicker is on the field, evidenced by him notching his fifth and sixth career blocked kicks Saturday.
Week 1 stats: 1 sack, BLK FG, BLK XP
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State – Like the entire Michigan State defense, Gholston had an incredible first series Friday night. While he slowed down after that, he helped play a role in keeping Boise State’s offense out of the end zone.
Week 1 stats: 1 BrUp, 1 QH
Previous ranking: No. 2

3. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin – Every week, it seems, Borland produces. Week 1 was no different, as the linebacker registered seven tackles, second only to Mike Taylor, a sack and a forced fumble.
Week 1 stats: 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF
Previous ranking: No. 3

4. John Simon, DE, Ohio State – Simon and Ohio State’s dominant defense limited Miami (OH) to minus-1 yard rushing on 20 attempts Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly.
Week 1 stats: 3 tackles
Previous ranking: No. 5

5. Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois – All the people who talked about Buchanan being the next Whitney Mercilus sure looked smart Saturday. The defensive end blew up the backfield, as expected, and even picked off a pass.
Week 1 stats: 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT
Previous ranking: No. 6

6. Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State – Expect to see the talented Hodges among Penn State’s tackles leaders all season long. Don’t expect to see him returning kicks and punts, as he surprisingly did in Saturday’s season opener.
Week 1 stats: 11 tackles
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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