5 B1G stat leaders with the best chance to repeat in 2021
Repeating as a statistical champion might be one of the most difficult individual challenges in college football. It’s even tougher in a conference like the B1G.
Still, with a good chunk of last year’s statistical leaders returning for the 2021 season in the B1G, there’s a good chance some reclaim their title. Which of those 2020 players have the best chance to do so?
These five B1G players have the best path to repeat as statistical leaders this year:
Rushing touchdowns: Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim
2020 total: 15 TDs
Ibrahim was a one-man wrecking crew in 2020, leading the B1G with 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns in just 7 games. And that was behind a seriously depleted offensive line, too. I’m not convinced Ibrahim will lead the B1G in total rushing yardage again this season because Minnesota’s passing offense should be in a much better situation than a year ago. But when the Gophers are inside the 10-yard line, Ibrahim is a guaranteed touchdown. He’ll see plenty of touches in that area find the end zone quite a bit.
Interceptions: Northwestern S Brandon Joseph
2020 total: 6 INTs
Leading a conference in interceptions in consecutive seasons is a task that’s nearly impossible to achieve, but so is notching 6 picks as a freshman. The scouting reports are out and offensive coordinators will try to scheme around him, but I actually believe Joseph has a really good chance to repeat because of his incredible athleticism and awareness. Quarterbacks are going to have trouble stretching the field with Joseph in the secondary, but they’ll have to take a chance at some point. He can cover a lot of ground and has above-average hands for a defensive back, which could lead to another high interception total in 2021.
Long scrimmage plays (10+ yards): Penn State WR Jahan Dotson
2020 total: 34 plays of 10+ yards
In a conference so many elite athletes at the running back and wide receiver positions, it might surprise you to learn that Dotson led the B1G in scrimmage plays that went for 10 yards or more. In fact, He led the league in plays of 40+, 50+, 60+ and 70+ plays in 2020, t0o. As Penn State’s clear No. 1 option at wide receiver and with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich running the show, Dotson will get his fair share of touches. The Nittany Lions can hit him with the deep ball and he’s capable of turning a short gain into a first down. Dotson is probably one of the most underrated receivers in the B1G, but he’s more than capable of piling up big plays against nearly any defense he faces.
Total tackles: Rutgers LB Olakunle Fatukasi
2020 total: 101 tackles
Fatukasi’s return to Rutgers was huge for Greg Schiano’s defense after piling up more than 100 tackles in just 9 games last season. He also tallied 11 tackles for loss and proved to be one of the most productive defensive players in the B1G last season. Expect more of that this fall. Why? Rutgers’ offense still won’t be producing at a high level, though it should be better than it was a season ago. That means Fatukasi and the Scarlet Knights defense will be on the field frequently, allowing him to defend his title as the B1G’s leading tackler.
Receiving yards per game: Purdue WR David Bell
2020 total: 104.2 yards per game
Jeff Brohm has no trouble drawing up a game plan that gets the ball in the hands of his best player frequently. With Rondale Moore gone, that’s clearly going to be Bell. Last fall, the Purdue receiver had 625 yards and 8 touchdowns on 53 receptions. Bell is as sure-handed a receiver as there is in the B1G and has the ability to make catches against any defender. In the red zone, he’s the top option in the passing attack and should be able to rack up the touchdowns, as well. This fall, Bell is going to be targeted anywhere from 8-10 times per game, if not more frequently. That will result in quite a bit of yardage for the junior receiver.