Big Ten media days kick off Thursday in Chicago, so I thought I’d release my preseason Big Ten player rankings. I’m going to do these a little different this year. In previous years, I’d rank the top 10 players, which often became a tough task with all the talent on both sides of the ball. To account for both sides, I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.
For the second consecutive season, Kirk Ferentz and Iowa are headed back to the Insight Bowl. A season ago, the Hawkeyes upset Missouri in Tempe, Ariz., and now they will try to do the same against Oklahoma on December 30. BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down the game, gives his keys and offers his prediction. See it all in this post. Also, view our entire 2011-12 bowl schedule.
On Monday morning, the Big Ten Conference announced its players of the week for Week 3. The honorees include four first-time winners, highlighted by Iowa’s James Vandenberg, the Offensive Player of the Week. Vandenberg threw for 162 of his 399 passing yards and for all three of his touchdown passes in a remarkable fourth quarter to help Iowa tally its largest comeback in school history. The junior quarterback also added a rushing score, for good measure, as the Hawkeyes rallied from a 21-point deficit against Pittsburgh.