Brent Yarina, Senior Editor, October 27, 2012

Every Saturday night during the college football season, web editor Brent Yarina hands out his weekly Big Ten Game Balls. The series is called "U.S. Marines Corps: Leaders of the Week," and it's designed to spotlight the Big Ten's top individual performances. Who took home the honors from Week 9? Find out in this post.


1. Philip Nelson, QB, Minnesota: 15-22, 246 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 9 car., 37 yards – Making just his second career start, Nelson was nearly flawless in leading the Gophers' offensive onslaught against Purdue. The freshman completed 14 of his first 16 passes and finished the day hitting on 68 percent of his attempts. The three scoring strikes (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3) all came in the first half, helping Minnesota jump out to a 34-7 lead.

2. Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern: 6-9, 80 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 26 car., 166 yards, 3 TD – Colter didn't light it up through the air, but the dual-threat quarterback had a field day on the ground in Northwestern's 28-17 win over Iowa. The junior gashed the Hawkeyes for a career-high 166 rushing yards and a not-t00-shaby three scoring scampers (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3). The fourth Northwestern touchdown of the game? Colter accounted for that one, too, on a 47-yard touchdown pass.

3. Indiana defense – Look, this is a much-maligned unit; in fact, it's been the Big Ten's perennial punching bag for years. On Saturday, though, it looked like a vaunted defense, led by Greg Heban (13 tackles) and David Cooper (10 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack). The Hoosiers erupted for seven sacks – it entered the game with 12 on the season – and 12 tackles for loss in their 31-17 win at Illinois. The unit also limited the Illini to 3.6 yards per carry – 1.3 below its season average entering the game.

4. Michael Carter, CB, Minnesota: 6 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD, 6 pass breakups – Caleb TerBush or Rob Henry, it didn't matter who was under center for Purdue, because Carter was all over everything thrown in his direction. Seriously. The Gopher had a ridiculous six – SIX! – pass breakups, and he returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown (Watch it).

T-5. Andrew Maxwell, QB, Michigan State: 24-39, 216 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT – For three-plus quarters, it was more of the same from Maxwell and the Michigan State passing game. Then, the Spartans opened it up, and Maxwell threw the game-tying TD with 1:08 left (Watch it), forcing overtime, and hooked up with Bennie Fowler on a 12-yard touchdown (Watch it) in the first extra session to snap Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak.

T-5. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: 7-19, 143 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 25 car., 134 yards, 2 TD – Miller bounced back from last week's dud – at least by his standards – in which he was injured and forced to leave the game against Purdue. The sophomore sensation reclaimed his Heisman-worthy play, amassing 277 total yards and accounting for three touchdowns against Penn State's stout defense. Miller scored twice one 1-yard keepers, including this athletic run (Watch it).


Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana: 21 car., 71 yards, 2 TD (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2) ; 2 rec., 16 yards, 1 TD

Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana: 10-15, 107 yards, 2 TD (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2), 0 INT

Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State: 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks

William Gholston, DE, Michigan State: 5 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack

A.J. Barker, WR, Minnesota: 5 rec., 135 yards, 2 TD (Watch TD No. 1 | No. 2)

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska: 24 car., 101 yards, 1 TD (Watch TD)

Brett Maher, K, Nebraska: 3-3 FG (Watch 52-yarder), 2-2 XP

Eric Martin, DE, Nebraska: 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup

P.J. Smith, S, Nebraska: 5 tackles, 1 INT (Watch INT)

David Nwabuisi, LB, Northwestern: 18 tackles

Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State: 5 tackles, 4 pass breakups

Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State: 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 TD (Watch TD) web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men's basketball for 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 work here. You can subscribe to Yarina's RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.