Big Ten Player Rankings: Bullough, Likely top our guys' new list

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Player Rankings: Bullough, Likely top our guys' new list

How fun was Week 2 of the Big Ten football season?

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Big Ten fans were treated to several outstanding performances in Week 2, and now, with Week 3 ahead, it’s time for BTN senior writer Tom Dienhart and web editor Sean Merriman to release their updated Big Ten Player Rankings.

We have some new names in this week’s list, including Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough, who lands on top of Dienhart’s list. Maryland CB William Likely remains in the No. 1 spot in Merriman’s rankings.

Who else made their lists?

Find out below.

TOM DIENHART

1. Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State. Max, Shane, Riley … are they ever gonna run out of Bulloughs in East Lansing? The Bulloughs are as tough and durable as a Ford F-150. Who am I kidding: The Bulloughs are tougher and more durable. Riley paces the Big Ten in tackles (11.5 per game) and is second in sacks (3.0) for a defense that is the face of this MSU program.

2. William Likely, CB, Maryland. Death, taxes and Likely running back punts for touchdowns. That’s two in two weeks. It’s good to know there are some sure things in the topsy-turvy world we live in. Oh, and Likely is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passes broken up, too. Someone start this guy a fan club.

3. C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa. This time last year, Beathard was a heartthrob backup quarterback with long blond hair that made WWE wrestlers jealous. Now, Beathard is an emerging star quarterback with hair that makes One Direction jealous. He’s No. 3 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, hitting 61.2 percent of his passes for 426 yards and four TDs. Even better: The Hawkeyes are 2-0. Beathard makes the coeds swoon in Kinnick Stadium—and the 50-year old alums sitting on the 50 wish they were him.

4. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana. Tevin Who? Well, Howard may not have made Hoosier fans forget about Tevin “2,036 yards rushing in 2014” Coleman. But the UAB transfer is delivering on his hype with a league-leading 304 yards rushing (6.4 per tote).

5. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State. Let’s go ahead and call him a “one-man wrecking crew.” The numbers back it up. Four sacks—which lead the Big Ten—and 5.5 tackles for loss—which is No. 2 in the Big Ten. Not bad for a former walk-on.

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SEAN MERRIMAN

1. William Likely, CB, Maryland. The most electrifying return man in college football (yes, I said it) takes my top spot again this week. He returned another punt for a touchdown on Saturday, one week after he set a Big Ten-record with 233 punt return yards against Richmond. In two games, Likely has returned 10 punts for 315 yards and two touchdowns. How do you top that? Simple… You don’t. That’s why he’s No. 1 on my board.

2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. This guy was No. 5 on my list last week, but after another 100-plus yard game, which included three rushing touchdowns, Elliott gets a boost up to No. 2 on my list. While Ohio State didn’t look as dominant as expected against Hawaii, Elliott was terrific from start to finish in the Buckeyes’ 38-0 win. He has totaled 223 yards and four scores, which leads all Big Ten backs.

3. C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa. No more flowing blonde locks? No worries! C.J. Beathard was exceptional for the second straight week, throwing for 215 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 70 yards in the Hawkeyes’ 31-17 win over in-state rival Iowa State. In two games this season, Beathard has thrown for 426 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. That will win you some games.

4. Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State. Bullough looks like the next great linebacker for the Spartans, following in the footsteps of his brother and former MSU captain, Max. Through two games, Bullough leads the Big Ten with 23 tackles, and ranks second in sacks with three. He’s on pace for 138 tackles and 18 sacks in the regular season. That’s impressive!

5. Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State. He didn’t have any video game-like plays on Saturday, but I still have to include the most dynamic playmaker in the Big Ten on this list. Heading into Week 3, Miller has totaled 119 rushing yards, 94 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns. We’re all just waiting for him to throw his first pass of the season.

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