Week 3 Player Rankings: Braxton Miller moves on up

With Week 2 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. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – One week after setting the Ohio State QB record for most rushing yards in a game (155), Miller became the first Buckeye signal-caller to score three touchdowns on the ground in 34 years.
Week 2 stats: 18-24, 155 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 27 car., 141 yards, 3 TD
Season stats: 32-48, 362 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 44 car., 302 yards, 4 TD
Previous ranking: No. 3

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State – While Bell touched the ball 31 fewer times in Week 2, he still found the end zone twice – his third consecutive two-touchdown game, dating to last season’s bowl game. He desperately needed the lighter workload after receiving 50 touches the previous week.
Week 2 stats: 18 car., 70 yards, 2 TD; 1 rec., 0 yards
Season stats: 62 car., 280 yards, 4 TD; 7 rec., 55 yards
Previous ranking: No. 2

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – After 21 consecutive games with at least one touchdown, Ball’s incredible streak was snapped in Wisconsin’s disappointing 10-7 defeat at Oregon State. The 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist also only ran for 61 yards, his lowest total since he became a regular late in 2010.
Week 2 stats: 15 car., 61 yards; 4 rec., 18 yards
Season stats: 47 car., 181 yards, 1 TD; 7 rec., 49 yards
Previous ranking: No. 1

4. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – Here’s something you rarely see: Robinson had 426 of Michigan’s 422 total yards in its narrow victory over Air Force. In the process, the senior quarterback became the first player in major college football history to compile three 200-yard passing, 200-yard rushing games in a career.
Week 2 stats: 14-25, 208 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 20 car., 218 yards, 2 TD
Season stats: 25-51, 408 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT; 30 car., 245 yards, 2 TD
Previous ranking: No. 5

5. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – Martinez came back to earth as a passer in Week 2, throwing zero touchdowns and one interception, one week after matching a career-high in TD passes (5). There was nothing wrong with his legs, though, as he ran for 112 yards, including a 92-yard scoring scamper.
Week 2 stats: 17-31, 179 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 13 car., 112 yards, 1TD
Season stats: 43-65, 533 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT; 19 car., 122 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking: No. 6

6. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern – One of the Big Ten’s most exciting talents, Mark compiled his second consecutive electric game, this one against an SEC defense in Vanderbilt. This is a guy who can score any time he touches the ball.
Week 2 stats: 24 car., 123 yards, 1 TD; 1 rec., 14 yards
Season stats: 38 car., 205 yards, 1 TD; 3 rec., 30 yards, 1 TD; 2 PR, 134 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking:
NR

Next in line: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota

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

DEFENSE
1. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue – Put as many guys on Short as you want, the defensive tackle is going to get into your backfield and disrupt things.
Week 2 stats: 4 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State – The Michigan State defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown through the first two games, and Gholston was a huge part of the stifling attack Saturday at Central Michigan.
Week 2 stats: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup
Previous ranking: No. 2

3. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Hageman isn’t a household name just yet, but give it a few more weeks and he’ll be a name everyone knows rather well.
Week 2 stats: 3 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks
Previous ranking: NR

4. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin – Wisconsin’s rare offensive struggles at Oregon State have forced people to ignore the solid effort put forth by Borland and the Badgers defense.
Week 2 stats: 8 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Previous ranking: No. 3

5. Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois – Illinois’ defense was awful late Saturday night at Arizona State, but Brown’s all-around performance was one of the lone bright spots.
Week 2 stats: 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks
Previous ranking: NR

6. Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State – Mauti looks healthy, and as long as he can avoid injury and fatigue in what looks to be a long, frustrating season, he’ll continue to produce.
Week 2 stats: 9 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 pass breakup
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State

BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his latest work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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6 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (6 Comments)
aroznowski on 9/10/2012 @ 11:34am EDT Said:

This is much better than last week’s rankings. Good job!

tim hutfless on 9/10/2012 @ 1:12pm EDT Said:

I am die hard husker fan but Martinez should have stayed at 6 instead of moving up one spot

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/10/2012 @ 1:16pm EDT Said:

    I can agree with that. But Martinez does look improved, and I don’t think anyone expected him to be the player he was in Week 1. The Big Ten doesn’t boast a ton of offensive talent right and Rex Burkhead’s knee injury opened up a spot.

MN JIM on 9/11/2012 @ 1:29pm EDT Said:

Curious as to where you rank MN QB Gray?

frod0 on 9/12/2012 @ 2:33pm EDT Said:

A: Hageman is a DT not a DE
B: How is Derrick Wells not at least honorable mention on defense.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 9/12/2012 @ 2:47pm EDT Said:

    Yes, thank you. I know this – simple mixup. Thanks for letting me know, though.