Week 3 Game Balls: Heroes galore for B1G on statement Saturday
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Fortunately for the B1G, the finish was a whole lot better than the start. Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State all won their monster showdowns against ranked teams. That marked the first time the B1G earned a non-conference road victory vs. a ranked team since Indiana at Missouri in 2014.
So yeah, it was a solid day for the B1G (minus Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin).
Let’s hand out some game balls:
Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin QB — Desperate for a spark against lowly Georgia State — that’s another issue — Paul Chryst brought in the southpaw. In a tough spot, the freshman delivered. Hornibrook wasn’t perfect, but he led the go-ahead touchdown drive that ended with a perfectly-executed play-action to Kyle Penniston. Chryst can deny it if he wants, but there’s official a quarterback controversy in Madison.
Andre Robinson, Penn State RB — Ok, I know that there were guys who had better games. Robinson only had six carries for 24 yards. But with the Penn State offense in need of a spark after the Saquon Barkley injury, and Robinson provided it. He steamrolled a Temple defender and scored his first career touchdown. It was certainly one of the few bright spots in the midst of a grinder of an afternoon in State College.
Robert Martin, Rutgers RB — I don’t give this guy enough love, but he deserves it. Martin shed a slew of New Mexico tackles and busted loose for a big 80-yard touchdown to get Rutgers rolling. He finished the day with 175 yards from scrimmage in what turned into a double-digit victory. Martin’s role is so important as teams isolate Janarion Grant. He was ridiculous again, by the way.
Jabrill Peppers, football player — Jabrill Peppers is every good as people make him out to be. It’s scary to think about what Michigan would’ve done without the do-it-all weapon. So what if he still doesn’t have an interception? How many guys can rack up nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a bulldozing sack, 180 return yards, 24 rushing yards and a touchdown? If Peppers beats out Christian McCaffrey for the the Paul Hornung Award, you’ll see a bunch of highlights from this game.
Tommy Armstrong, Jr., Nebraska QB — The single most-meaningful performance of his career. Hands down.
Nate Gerry, Nebraska S — Gerry almost earned one last week. Instead, I held off until this week. The Nebraska senior was everywhere on defense with a team-high nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. He also had a key touchdown-saving tackle in the third quarter. After starting off the season suspended, Gerry delivered back-to-back big performances for the Huskers. And finally, it looks like he might have some help on the back end.
Austin Carr, Northwestern WR — The Northwestern offense showed up! I repeat, the Northwestern offense showed up! Clayton Thorson got in a nice rhythm with Carr, who finished Saturday with a career-high 135 yards and a 58-yard touchdown. The Wildcats are desperate for consistent aerial threat. They look like they finally have one in Carr.
Tyrrell Pigrome, Maryland QB — What Pigrome did was essentially come in off the bench and hit a walk-off home run on the first pitch. The freshman delivered as good of a moment as Maryland has had in the last few years. His 24-yard scamper will inevitably create massive hype. But hey, the Terps deserve some hype. Two wins in Florida and a 3-0 start heading into B1G play is nothing short of impressive.
GAME. OVER. @TerpsFootball win it in 2OT. https://t.co/B55EZKL0Ho
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 18, 2016
Gerald Holmes, Michigan State RB — In the season opener, Holmes didn’t get a carry. With LJ Scott in danger of running away with the starting job — he looked really good, too — Holmes delivered a whale of an effort. His 73-yard touchdown run gave the Spartans a 29-point lead that they didn’t surrender. Holmes, who came up huge at Ohio State last year, seems to be developing a knack for coming up clutch on the road.
Donnie Corley, Michigan State WR — Fire up the Corley hype train. Oh, it already left the station? My bad. Get on the Corley hype train if you haven’t already. Why? All the true freshman did in his first career road game was haul in a miraculous jump ball, score his first career TD and lead MSU in receiving. Something tells me he’ll wind up on this list once or twice more.
Noah Brown, Ohio State WR — Talk about a coming out party. Brown had a big one on a big stage for the Buckeyes. The sophomore came into Saturday still with plenty of promise, but with one career touchdown. He left with a tie for the OSU record with four touchdown receptions, and arguably the catch of the year. I still can’t figure out how he caught this.
I’m just gonna go ahead and nominate that for catch of the year. Incredible catch, incredible night for a budding star.