Week 4 Player Rankings: PSU WR debuts on list

With Week 3 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 – Miller only completed 53 percent of his passes, but he tossed a career-high four scoring strikes, including the game-winning 72-yard touchdown to Devin Smith. The sophomore quarterback also ran for a touchdown, his fifth of the season.
Week 3 stats: 16-30, 249 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 12 car., 75 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – As expected, Robinson has torched the competition since struggling against Alabama in the season opener. The quarterback’s latest performance included 397 total yards to move him into the No. 2 spot in Michigan history for career total yards (9,210), trailing only Chad Henne (9,715).
Week 3 stats: 16-24, 291 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; 10 car., 106 yards, 1 TD
Previous ranking: No. 4

[Related: See Tom Dienhart's latest Big Ten Power Rankings]

3. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State – What Robinson is doing in the passing game is nothing short of incredible. The guy not only has come out of nowhere to lead the Big Ten in every major receiving category, he’s compiling these huge numbers as the only true weapon in the Penn State offense.
Week 3 stats: 5 rec., 136 yards, 3 TD
Previous ranking: NR

4. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – As good as the handful of touchdown passes in Week 1 were, Saturday’s nearly flawless 13-of-14 performance through the air was equally impressive. That’s a 93 percent completion percentage for a guy who’s averaged 59.3 percent in his up-and-down career.
Week 3 stats: 13-14, 180 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 11 car., 54 yards, 1TD
Previous ranking: No. 5

5. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State – For Bell to succeed, especially against top foes, Andrew Maxwell and the passing game need to start clicking more regularly. Otherwise, defenses can stack the box and make running room tough to find for the talented Spartan back who didn’t visit the end zone for the first time this season Saturday.
Week 3 stats: 19 car., 77 yards; 4 rec., 20 yards
Previous ranking: No. 2

6. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern – Mark continues to rack up the yards, whether it be on the ground, through the air or on returns, and the damage is coming against quality competition. In three games, against the likes of Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College, Mark has totaled 590 yards (196.7 per game) and three touchdowns.
Week 3 stats: 18 car., 77 yards; 7 rec., 42 yards
Previous ranking: No. 6

Next in line: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

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DEFENSE
1. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue – In a resounding 54-16 victory, the Boilers didn’t need much production or time from their star defensive tackle.
Week 3 stats: 1 tackle, 1 TFL
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Pegged as one of the Big Ten’s top breakout candidates this offseason, Hageman is more than living up to the hype. The guy is an absolute beast in the trenches.
Week 3 stats: 5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack
Previous ranking: No. 3

3. Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State – Going up against a team like Navy, it was almost a guarantee Mauti would compile big-time numbers. And he did, for the third time in as many games.
Week 3 stats: 12 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
Previous ranking: No. 6

[Related: How did we do? View Week 3 predictions]

4. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State – Gholston and the Michigan State defense allowed their first touchdowns of the 2012 season Saturday night, but the Spartans still held Notre Dame to a respectable 300 total yards.
Week 3 stats: 5 tackles, 1 TFL
Previous ranking: No. 2

5. Derrick Wells, S, Minnesota – Wells is making a name for himself in the Big Ten these first three weeks. From big plays (two interceptions in triple-overtime win at UNLV) to leading Minnesota’s surprising defense in tackles in all three games, the guy has done it all.
Week 3 stats:
10 tackles, 2 pass breakups
Previous ranking:
NR

6. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin – Taylor leapfrogs teammate and fellow linebacker Chris Borland, another tackling machine, on this list due to his 15 tackles, 10 of which were of the solo variety, in Saturday’s must-win victory over Utah State.
Week 3 stats: 15 tackles, 1 TFL
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Darqueze Dennard, 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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2 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (2 Comments)
Jestin Haugh on 9/17/2012 @ 1:44pm EDT Said:

I don’t know how you put Denard Robinson so high. He is terrible and Michigan has way under performed. Worst throwing arm I have ever seen and he is brittle.

bob jones on 9/17/2012 @ 3:57pm EDT Said:

Abdullah has been very impressive after getting more playing time due to Burkhead’s injury, he has looked very, very good and Braylon Heard has looked great behind him. If Burkhead comes back at 100%, the Huskers have as good a bunch of skill players as anyone. The receiving corp with Bell, Enunwa, Reed, Turner, Cotton, Osborne and Long is really good and with the continued overall improvement from Martinez, this offense will be hard to stop if the line holds up. Interesting to see how the carries get split the rest of the year once Burkhead returns, and he is scheduled to be back this week.

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