Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, September 22, 2015
If you like defense, this week's list is right up your alley!
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Big Ten fans were treated to several great games in Week 3, and with that came many outstanding individual performances. With that said, 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 Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker, who lands at No. 1 on Dienhart?s list. Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough moved up three spots and now holds the No. 1 spot in Merriman's rankings.
Who else made it?
Find out here.
1. Anthony Walker, LB Northwestern. The Wildcats are a Big Ten surprise. Thank this guy, whose defense has been the backbone of a 3-0 start that has America rubbing its eyes. Yes, it?s true: NU is unbeaten and looks like a legit contender in the West. If Walker played for Ohio State, he?d already be on a box of Wheaties.
2. Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State. Bullough is the bloody face of this team, the epitome of rock-and-roll Michigan State football. No frills ? just gritty substance. Bullough leads the Big Ten in tackles and punches to the nose. I love this guy. And you should, too.
3. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana. Three games, a national-best 507 yards rushing, three TDs. Not bad. Makes me wonder how in the heck this guy landed at UAB in the first place. Ah, who cares? Just enjoy! With Howard running and QB Nate Sudfeld throwing, Indiana football is FUN!
4. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. I know, I know ? another Spartan. Honestly, WR Aaron Burbridge should be on this list, too. Cook is a pro?s pro. Cool, efficient, a leader. He is completing 58.1 percent of his aerials for 695 yards with eight TDs and just one pick. His savvy is gonna pay huge dividends during road games at Michigan, at Nebraska and at Ohio State.
5. Tommy Armstrong, QB, Nebraska. No quarterback has surprised me more. I know the Huskers are just 1-2. But they are THISCLOSE to being 3-0. And, it?s because of this guy, who is hitting 56.9 percent of his passes for 898 yards with a Big Ten-best nine TDs. I didn?t see this coming. Credit the new staff.
1. Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State. Remember when Michigan State fans were worried about who would fill the void at middle linebacker this season? Bullough has filled in admirably in the middle for a rough and tough Spartan defense. He leads the Big Ten with 39 tackles, and his three sacks in three games ranks seventh in the conference. What a special talent!
2. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana. If I told you Tevin Coleman's replacement would be leading the nation in rushing after three weeks, you would have called me crazy, right? Well, it's the truth! Howard has rushed for 507 yards and three scores, leading the Hoosiers to an impressive 3-0 start. He will need another big game this week against Wake Forest if IU is going to enter Big Ten play with an undefeated record.
3. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. This guy was solid in MSU's first two games against Western Michigan and Oregon, but he was nothing short of spectacular in a 35-21 win over Air Force this past week. Heading into Week 4, Cook ranks in the top 3 of Big Ten quarterbacks in passing yards (695), touchdowns (8) and passer efficiency (154.4). Most importantly, he has led the Spartans to a perfect 3-0 mark and the No. 2 ranking in the nation.
4. Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State. Another Spartan? Really? I know, I know… But how can you argue against the top wideout in the Big Ten being on this list? Through three games, Burbridge leads the conference in receiving yards (374), touchdowns (5) and ranks second in catches (20). After three games last season, Tony Lippett had 18 catches for 345 yards and five touchdowns. He went on to be named the Big Ten receiver of the year. See what I'm getting at here?
5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Elliott has been the only real constant for this Ohio State offense thus far. He moves down three spots from last week, but that's not because of a lack of production. He has topped the century mark in every game this season, and his four rushing touchdowns is tied for first in the Big Ten.