Week 2 B1G Game Balls
In these non-conference blowouts, it’s easy to pick offensive standouts. Quarterbacks like Mitch Leidner put up monster numbers and naturally, that’s where the eyes go.
But defenders need love, too.
That’s my way of saying that there’s no position bias in these B1G game balls:
Janarion Grant, Rutgers — I know that Christian McCaffrey and Jabrill Peppers are the household names on the Paul Hornung watch list, but Grant deserves to be in that conversation. The versatile senior sparked Rutgers with a kickoff return touchdown, then he ran for two scores. The guy touched the ball 11 times and he accounted for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Sure, it was Howard. But Grant isn’t going anywhere. Well, except to the end zone.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State — A frequent receiver of game balls, Barkley surpassed his own high bar. Despite the loss, Barkley racked up a career-high five touchdowns. He only finished the day with 85 rushing yards, but Barkley flashed plenty of what makes him a dark horse Heisman candidate. The guy has a nose for the end zone that few players do.
Wilton Speight, Michigan — The training wheels came off and Speight rode his bike like a big boy. The deep ball looked solid and as a result, Michigan rolled. Speight’s first 300-yard game showed his maturation to hang in the pocket and make on-target throws downfield. The Wolverines will be able to stretch the field if Speight shows that kind of poise in B1G play.
Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State — You know that it’s going to be a good day when you pick off the first pass. Lattimore made a nice play on the ball to give the Buckeyes a short field. It didn’t result in a touchdown so on Lattimore’s next pick, he took it to the house. The Buckeyes now have seven interceptions through two games. That’s big heading into next week’s showdown in Norman.
D.J. Moore, Maryland — This easily could’ve went to the guy throwing him the ball, Perry Hills, but I wrote about him plenty already. There was simply no FIU defender who could cover the Moore. The Maryland wideout went over the top, he faked out defenders with the ball and he even completed a 21-yard pass on a reverse. The talented sophomore finished with a career-high 147 yards and two scores. Something tells me that won’t be his last 100-yard effort.
Mitch Leidner, Minnesota — Remember when I wrote that if Leidner doesn’t have a monster passing game against Indiana State that I wasn’t sure that it would ever happen? It happened! Leidner lit up Indiana State for nearly 300 yards and four scores. He and Drew Wolitarsky were in sync all afternoon and the ISU secondary was simply along for the ride. Leidner’s second career four-touchdown game fueled Minnesota’s best offensive output in a decade. Not too shabby.
Kieron Williams, Nebraska — You wouldn’t know it by looking at the final score, but Nebraska was in some trouble with five minutes left in the third quarter. Up a touchdown with the offense stalling, Nebraska needed a big play from the defense. Williams hauled in a tipped pass and had the presence of mind to stay in bounds and weave his way into the end zone. It was the clear turning point in what led to a Nebraska rout.
Jazz Peavy, Wisconsin — There’s a lot of hope that Peavy will catch a lot of touchdowns at Wisconsin. His first career TD should’ve come last year against Northwestern, but he officially got in the end zone for the first time on Saturday. Two scores and his first 100-yard game will only increase the hype surrounding Peavy.
Marcelino Ball, Indiana — Rarely do I get the chance to give game balls to IU defenders. But Ball — appropriately named, by the way — was worthy. He hauled in his first career interception and was the team leader in tackles. The freshman defensive back was part of another solid defensive effort for IU. There’s something you don’t say every day.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa — Beathard is getting to the point where he looks bored out there. That’s a good thing. The great quarterbacks have that type of calmness. Beathard carved up Iowa State and racked up four touchdowns in the first half alone. He had one of the more impressive throws I’ve seen from him on a touchdown to Matt VandeBerg. If this is what Beathard is capable of when healthy, Iowa is in for another fun season.