Hackenberg works his way into this week's Big Ten Player Rankings

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Hackenberg works his way into this week's Big Ten Player Rankings

The college football season is coming down the stretch, and the Big Ten MVP argument is heating up.

[ MORE: Week 10 previews | Week 10 scoreboard | Polls: Pick your Week 10 winners | Big Ten standings | Big Ten stats | Latest polls | Power Rankings | Bowl Projections | Mailbag | Q&A: Jake Butt | View your team’s homepage ]

Ezekiel Elliott and Connor Cook look to be the top offensive players in the conference right now, while Carl Nassib and Desmond King have been outstanding on the defensive side of the ball.

So, who is the top player in the Big Ten right now?

BTN.com Senior Writer Tom Dienhart and Web Editor Sean Merriman provide their Big Ten Player Rankings heading into Week 10 of the college football season.

Here we go.


Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Another week, another round of headlines surrounding the Buckeye quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Elliott keeps quietly grinding out 100-yard rushing games in the greatest 2015 season no one is talking about. That’s 13 100-yard rushing games in succession for Elliott, who has 1,130 yards on the ground this season.

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. How many losses would the Spartans have this season without Cook? He has thrown for more than 300 yards in three straight games. In that span, he has 1,093 passing yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. He has 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season.

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. He is playing on fire, throwing for 1,415 yards with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last six games. He’s also added two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in that span. Hackenberg is quelling critics for a Nittany Lions squad that is the quietest 7-2 (4-1 Big Ten) in the nation.

Desmond King, CB, Iowa. He debuted on my list last week. And, he’s back again after pushing his national-leading interception total to seven, returning a pick 88 yards for a TD last week. Oh, King also is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passes defend with 14.

Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State. The Big Ten’s version of “Rocky” continues, as this underdog continues to pace the nation with 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Someone call Hollywood.


Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. No game, no reason to move him down the list. Cook is coming off a bye this past weekend as he will lead the Spartans into Lincoln to take on a struggling Nebraska team. The Spartans’ QB is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the nation, averaging more than 360 passing yards and two touchdown passes per game in his previous three games. But as I’ve said all along, nothing is more impressive than this guy’s ability to win games, which is evident by his incredible 31-3 record as the Spartans’ starting quarterback.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Guess what? Ezekiel Elliott did not run for 100 yards this past week! Just kidding… kind of. Like Cook, Elliott was on a bye this past weekend, so he will maintain the No. 2 spot on my list. He has 13 straight 100-yard games and will likely rack up another one this weekend against Minnesota.

Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State. This sack machine keeps moving his way up my list, appearing at No. 3 this week. He now has a nation-leading 14.5 sacks and has not gone a single game without recording at least one. Did you know this guy didn’t start on his high school football team? That’s incredible!

Desmond King, CB, Iowa. If this guy isn’t the hands-down favorite for the Jim Thorpe award right now, something is wrong. King is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions, including an 88-yard pick he returned to the house last weekend against Maryland. How great would a King vs. Leonte Carroo matchup be this season?

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. The fastest rising player in the Big Ten, Hackenberg has been outstanding as of late. Over the past two weeks, “Hack” has thrown for 581 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. In those two games, the Nittany Lions have outscored their opponents 70-30. This guy is on a role!