Week 8 Player Rankings: Ball reenters list

With Week 7 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.

[RELATED: Tom Dienhart’s Week 8 Power Rankings]

OFFENSE
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Miller ran for 149 yards, his  third consecutive 100-yard rushing effort, and threw for 211 yards, the third-highest total of his career, in Saturday’s shootout victory at Indiana. The sophomore also tossed a pair of touchdowns (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2) and ran for another (Watch TD run). Basically, he did what everyone expected.
Week 7 stats: 13-24, 211 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 23 car., 149 yards, 1 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 1

2. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – He’s baaack! After finding little running room through the first handful of games, Ball has averaged an impressive 7.6 yards per carry the last two weeks. At Purdue, the senior ran for a career-high 247 yards and scored three times to become the Big Ten’s all-time TD leader (Watch record-tying TD). That’s eight touchdowns in the last three games, by the way.
Week 7 stats: 29 car., 247 yards, 3 TD; 1 rec. 14 yards | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: NR

3. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State – McGloin and Penn State were on a bye week Saturday, but the senior still leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game (249.8) and is tied for most TD passes (12). The unexpected five rushing scores are gravy.
Week 7 stats: Bye week | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 2

4. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern – Here’s something I’m pretty confident about: Put Mark on, say, Ohio State or Michigan, and we’d be hearing A LOT more about him. Saturday’s career-high 182-yard, two-score day (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2) will be hard to ignore. Same goes for his 11 touchdowns this season.
Week 7 stats: 20 car., 182 yards, 2 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 3

Mark Weisman

US Presswire

5. Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa – Heading into Saturday, no running back had rushed for more than 62 yards against Michigan State. Enter Weisman, who racked up 116 yards – his fourth consecutive 100-yard game – and scored the overtime-forcing touchdown (Watch TD) in Iowa’s upset victory. The numbers could have been better, too, as an ankle injury forced Weisman to miss the overtime sessions.
Week 7 stats: 26 car., 116 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec., 5 yards | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: No. 4

6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – Imagine the numbers Robinson would have put up Saturday had it not been for an early finger injury or the lopsided score that sent the quarterback to the bench in the fourth quarter. Regardless, Robinson totaled 287 yards and accounted for four touchdowns (Watch TD pass to Gallon | Watch 49-yard TD run) on limited touches (11 attempts, 11 carries).
Week 7 stats: 7-11, 159 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 11 car., 128 yards 2 TD | 2012 stats
Previous ranking: T-No. 6

Next in line: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Dropped out: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State (No. 4); Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska (T-No. 6)

[RELATED: See who won Week 7 Big Ten Game Balls]

DEFENSE
1. Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State – Much to the delight of Big Ten offenses, Mauti and Penn State were on a bye this week. The Nittany Lions return to action Saturday in a big-time clash at Iowa – a game that surprisingly features two 2-0 Big Ten teams.
Week 7 stats: Bye week
Previous ranking: No. 2

2. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue – OK, it’s officially time to hit the panic button when it comes to the Purdue defense. Despite the unit’s recent struggles – and that’s putting it politely – Short remains a dominant and big-play threat on the defensive line.
Week 7 stats: 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 blocked kick
Previous ranking: No. 1

3. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin – Borland anchored a Wisconsin attack that limited Purdue to 252 yards of offense Saturday. By comparison, the Badgers racked up 645 yards, the second-most in program history.
Week 7 stats: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
Previous ranking: No. 3

Jake Ryan

US Presswire

4. Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan – Few Big Ten defenses are playing better than Michigan’s recently, and Ryan is one of the main reasons behind it. The Wolverine was absolutely scintillating in Saturday’s shutout of Illinois.
Week 7 stats: 11 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF
Previous ranking: NR

5. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State – Check out Roby’s highlights the last three weeks: Blocked punt; two-interception game, including a pick-6; and a touchdown on a blocked punt (Watch TD). Not too bad. And don’t forget about the 14 tackles and six pass breakups, either.
Week 7 stats: 1 tackle, 3 pass breakups, 1 TD
Previous ranking: No. 5

6. Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa – One of the Big Ten’s more underrated players this season, Hitchens was everywhere Saturday. His 15-tackle effort helped Iowa limit the Spartans to a mere 16 points in a double-overtime road victory.
Week 7 stats: 15 tackles, 1 TFL
Previous ranking: NR

Next in line: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin
Dropped out: John Simon, DE, Ohio State (No. 4); Derrick Wells, S, Minnesota (No. 6)

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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9 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (9 Comments)
iavogter27 on 10/15/2012 @ 10:27am EST Said:

Iowa only score one TD the entire game, so it makes you wonder how Weisman could have 2?!?! Please proof-read

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 10/15/2012 @ 10:36am EST Said:

    Yes, thank you! This has been fixed.

easydealer@hotmail.com on 10/15/2012 @ 10:39am EST Said:

Nice to see the nation’s leading tackler (Hitchens) get a little respect.

Stephen on 10/15/2012 @ 2:28pm EST Said:

I’m an NU fan, but it might be time to give someone from Indiana a little love?

K. John on 10/16/2012 @ 12:11pm EST Said:

That has the be the worst defensive list ever. Simple fact, the top three defenders in the Big Ten all play for Penn State. Mike Mauti is the top linebacker and the defender in the country. Period. Gerald Hodges is the second best while Jordan Hill has quietly replaced Devon Still as the nation’s top tackle.

Blake on 10/16/2012 @ 2:25pm EST Said:

Anthony Hitchens, leading tackler in the nation, ranks 6th. Makes sense.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 10/16/2012 @ 2:59pm EST Said:

    Blake, Hitchens has been great, no doubt about it. But there are more things than tackles, like sacks, TFL, INT, PD, etc. Also defensive stats are far more misleading than offensive, because everyone counts them differently.

William Butterfield on 10/21/2012 @ 3:36pm EST Said:

Hey Tom– How on earth can you NOT include Taylor Martinez in your player rankings? He is the #1 rated quarterback in the conference, leading both Braxton Miller and Matt McGloin by more than 20 points! He leads the conference in both pass completion rate (67%) and passing yards/attempt (8.7). He also leads the Big 10 in touchdown passes with 15, and you don’t even mention him!

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 10/21/2012 @ 3:45pm EST Said:

    The player rankings are mine, not Tom’s. This is last week’s version, and Martinez was coming off a bye and that forgettable three-pick day at Ohio State. That explains why he was left off. I’ll tell you this: He’ll be on tomorrow’s list, no doubt.