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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16 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (16 Comments)
Faygo on 9/2/2012 @ 4:49pm EST Said:

I don’t think Robinson should be on this list. Yes, Alabama was overpowering, but Denard is simply not a quarterback. His throws are terrible. Like Tebow, he’s a phenom, but not a QB. And you ought to start considering Max Bullough as a top defender; he was awesome as usual against Boise, and Hodges is there only as a gimmick.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/2/2012 @ 5:01pm EST Said:

    Hodges isn’t there as a gimmick, I promise. He’s one of the Big Ten’s best defensive players. The fact he was returning kicks/punts Saturday was the biggest surprise of Week 1. That had no impact on him making the list, though. Just wanted to mention it.

Nicholas S. Ban on 9/2/2012 @ 5:26pm EST Said:

Guess no Michigan highlights this week.

aroznowski on 9/2/2012 @ 5:46pm EST Said:

How is Le’Veon Bell not the highest rated running back on this list!? He put up monster numbers against a ranked opponent. The guy above him played an FCS team and would have needed 250 to 300 yards just to compare to Bell’s performance. At least Bell will probably end the season as the conference’s best running back and maybe even offensive player of the year barring injury.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/2/2012 @ 6:07pm EST Said:

    Bell had the best week of any Big Ten player – Taylor Martinez and Braxton Miller fans may argue otherwise – but Ball has been terrific the last 20-something games. One game of Bell outperforming Ball isn’t enough for him to leap the 2011 Heisman finalist. Now, if Bell keeps this up and continues to outproduce Ball on a weekly basis, then he’ll have an argument. One week, no matter how good it was, isn’t enough to dethrone Ball. But that’s just my opinion.

blake on 9/2/2012 @ 9:43pm EST Said:

Robinson? Seariously? He had few goodpasses but had more awful he shouldn’t be a qb. Miller and martinez in my opinion should be ties for first. Obviously ur not doing weekly numbers and just following they preaeason hype.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/2/2012 @ 9:54pm EST Said:

    I’m not following preseason hype. We know what these guys can do, and we all knew Denard would struggle against Alabama. That’s not enough to dismiss him from every conversation about the Big Ten’s top players. As I said, few quarterbacks, if any, will have a good day against Bama. At the same time, we saw what Martinez did in the Big Ten last year, and it wasn’t pretty. He was unreal Saturday and looked much improved, but let’s see him do it consistently and against good teams. If it’s weekly numbers you’re looking for, go here: http://btn.com/2012/09/01/u-s-marines-corps-leaders-of-the-week-8/. This feature is dedicated to ranking the best players, not the best stats from one week to the next. For example, Damon Bullock is not better than Montee Ball because he ran for more yards Saturday.

Nick on 9/3/2012 @ 12:07am EST Said:

So then you are saying this is a “running” power rankings, including the previous seasons? That appears to be clearly what you are indicating by your previous comment on Bell Vs. Ball. Doesn’t that seem to be greatly less relevant than just a ‘2012’ version of power rankings? Why should we be concerned about what happened last year? This season has no connection to that so why should the power rankings? Based on Week 1, it’s a no brainer…Bell is well, well ahead of Ball.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/3/2012 @ 10:41am EST Said:

    You’re free to think that way. These rankings aren’t supposed to be a snapshot of who had the best stats every week. That’s what box scores and other posts, such as the Leaders of the Week, are for. Otherwise, guys who step up and have ONE good week out of nowhere (hello, Robert Marve!) would be in the discussion from one week to the next. You have to consider track records and likelihood of it continuing or else the lists are nothing more than searching who had the best stats and putting them in order of best statistical lines. Again, I urge you check the Leaders of the Week or box scores. Thnanks.

Josh on 9/3/2012 @ 1:23am EST Said:

Without Russell Wilson, prepare for Ball to be average this year.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/3/2012 @ 10:35am EST Said:

    I don’t see that happening at all. Ball is an unbelievable talent and his offensive line is too good for him to all of the sudden become average. Look at his numbers over the last year and a half, a period that includes Scott Tolzien as his QB, too. It’s not like he was a product of Russell Wilson. And his first game with Danny O’Brien wasn’t bad, by any means. It just wasn’t up to the usual Ball standards, which says a lot about how good he is.

tim on 9/3/2012 @ 10:16am EST Said:

Its the first week of the season. You have to take past into account. Not doing that would lead to some ridiculous rankings. As the season goes on we can expect it to be much more dependent on the current results.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/3/2012 @ 10:28am EST Said:

    Exactly, thank you. If people want to see who put up the best numbers each week, check out box scores, player profiles or our weekly U.S. Marines: Leaders of the Week post.

Jamie Strand on 9/3/2012 @ 12:00pm EST Said:

If this is a weekly ranking then do a weekly ranking. If you are ranking these players based on their careers to date then Bell doesn’t stand a chance. Come on, put your thinking cap on!

Nick on 9/3/2012 @ 12:42pm EST Said:

Brent, this is still all stuff you should be able to explain in the intro of the article, i.e. your basis of ranking. It would make it much more clear for everyone and would probably save you some headaches. That being said, based on past, present, and future….Ball’s lead has to be very small, imo.

Stephen Bird on 9/3/2012 @ 1:39pm EST Said:

No one who watches the game of CFB would argue Ball is not a beast. However, football is a “team” sport. Last year is just that; last year. Wiscy does not have a Russel Wilson or a Nick Toon to help divert some attention from Ball. The OL is not nearly as good as the All-American line it was last year (lack of experience as many graduated last year). Factor in all the coaching changes; do you really think Ball can produce as he did last season?

Wiscy had their hands full getting past a Div1 AA team in week 1. Everybody who follows the game knows between week 1 and week 2 is usually the biggest jump in team improvement. But even Evil Knivel may fear the leap that Wiscy has to take this week. If not Oregon State may humiliate the B1G next week.