Week 6 B1G Game Balls: Running backs, defenses on display
It’s definitely October in the B1G.
How can we be so sure? Well, look at the stars on Saturday. There are a lot of running backs and defensive players getting game balls this week.
From Purdue to Ohio State, Saturday was a good day to pound and defend the rock:
Akrum Wadley, Iowa RB — Iowa was desperate for a big play. Again. But unlike what happened in their two losses, the Hawkeyes finally got one. That came thanks to Wadley, who slipped away for a go-ahead 54-yard touchdown run in the final minutes. In what was a disastrous offensive game, Wadley provided the biggest play — and longest — of Iowa’s season. The College Football Playoff may be gone, but Wadley’s run prevented Iowa from suffering a deadly second B1G loss.
Brandon Snyder, Iowa FS — In a game that was defined by turnovers and stout defense, Snyder shined. He recovered a fumble and picked off Mitch Leidner late to keep the Gopher offense stuck in the mud. That was Snyder’s third straight game playing a part in an Iowa turnover. For a team lacking playmakers right now, Iowa doesn’t mind if it comes on either side of the ball.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB — If it’s a career day for Barkley, that’s saying something. That’s exactly what it was for the Lions tailback. His first 200-yard game — the most rushing yards for a PSU back since Larry Johnson in 2002 — was full of highlight-reel runs. Even when Barkley gained 10 yards, you couldn’t help but be impressed. Just in case you didn’t know, few in the country can do what Barkley can.
Brandon Smith, Penn State LB — Smith went from walk-on linebacker to indispensable leading tackler. He was big for the Lions with a career-high 14 tackles, one of which was for loss. He was at the center of Penn State’s best defensive effort of the season. The Terps came into Saturday averaging 43 points per game. Minus an early touchdown from Ty Johnson, Smith and the Lions were lights out.
Jerome Baker, Ohio State LB — Filling in for Dante Booker, Baker stepped up yet again. He finished the day with a career-high 11 tackles and two tackles for loss to lead the Buckeyes against Indiana. If and when Booker does finally return, Urban Meyer is going to be hard-pressed to keep Baker out of the lineup. He’s second on the team in tackles and showing no signs of slowing down. That’s a good problem for Meyer to have.
Purdue running game — Last week, Purdue’s running game was a complete mess. Ten yards at Maryland was not a sign of a team that had it figured out. On Saturday, the Boilers had everything figured out and without Markell Jones. Brian Lankford-Johnson, Richie Worship and David Blough all took advantage of some improved offensive line play. The Boilers racked up 231 rushing yards, and somehow, pulled out a victory in Champaign.
J.D. Dellinger, Purdue K — How about that reliable Purdue kicking game? Dellinger, delivered a game-winner to give the Boilers an emotional victory in Champaign. The guy who came into the game just 2-for-5 admitted he never felt like that before after a kick. In his defense, Purdue hadn’t been in many situations that called for a game-winning kick. Give Dellinger credit for capitalizing on a rare opportunity.
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan football player — Back in his home state, Peppers put on a show in limited work. In three carries — as the wildcat quarterback — Peppers scored on two of them. The one he didn’t was a 63-yard run that should’ve been a touchdown. It looked like Peppers was playing against some of his old high school foes. Jim Harbaugh was wise not to show too much more with him out of the wildcat.
The entire Michigan defense — When a team is still searching for a first down in a 71-0 ballgame, you’ve done your job.