Power ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten after Week 5
Welcome back, Rondale Moore.
I’m not a big fan of giving a player top 10 status off of one game, but a healthy Rondale Moore belongs on this list. He proved as much Friday night against Minnesota. Plus, we know Moore from his breakout 2018 season (114 receptions, 1,258 yards, 12 TDs — plus another 213 yards rushing on 10.1 per carry).
After knee and hamstring injuries shortened Moore’s 2019 season, a recently disclosed hamstring issue kept him out to start this one.
For the sake of Purdue fans — and fans of fun-to-watch football in general — I’m hoping Moore plans to stick around for the rest of the season. If, however, he put on this show as a one-and-done audition for NFL scouts, well, mission accomplished. He’s healthy and as dynamic as ever.
There were plenty of other dynamic, fun-to-watch efforts over the weekend, and they did shake up this list a bit. Here’s how it looks after 5 weeks of play:
Honorable mention: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota; Chris Bergin, LB, Northwestern; Chance Campbell, LB, Maryland; Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State; Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State; Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers; Zander Horvath, RB, Purdue; Aidan O’Connell, QB, Purdue; Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State; Jack Plummer, QB, Purdue; Antjuan Simmons, LB, Michigan State; Master Teague, RB, Ohio State.
10. Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland
Cross your fingers. Let’s hope the Terrapins can return after two Covid-canceled games. Because who doesn’t want to see Tagovailoa and Co. engage in a potential scoring war with Indiana and its dynamic offense led by QB Michael Penix Jr.?
It’d be quite the test for Maryland’s hot new quarterback, as No. 12 Indiana showed it can rattle even the likes of Justin Fields this past weekend.
9. Brandon Joseph, DB, Northwestern
The freshman picked off 2 passes against Wisconsin, giving him 5 INTs on the season, which leads the B1G and ties for best in the nation with someone (Coastal Carolina’s D’Jordan Strong) who has played two more games than Joseph’s 5.
Also fourth on the Wildcats in tackles, the 6-1, 192-pound Joseph — along with LBs Blake Gallagher, Paddy Fisher and Chris Bergin — helps lead a unit that stands second in the B1G in scoring defense and total defense, trailing only the Wisconsin team it just beat for supremacy in the West.
8. Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
The fan-favorite defensive tackle romped 71 yards on an interception return for a touchdown, juking Penn State QB Sean Clifford before displaying a burst of speed rarely seen in a 304-pound man.
He registered his 4th sack of the season and pushed his TFL total to 8.5 and yards off TFLs to 38, both second best in the B1G. Working in tandem with DE Zach VanValkenburg, Nixon is helping lead an Iowa defense that ranks 3rd in the league in points allowed (16.0) and yards allowed (319.8) per game.
7. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Enjoy it while you can, Boilermakers fans. Eligibility-wise, the 5-9, 180-pound Moore is still a sophomore. But he won’t be around much longer.
Already gone once before opting back in this fall, Moore returned from his long layoff and proved himself healthy and NFL-ready Friday night against Minnesota.
Moore caught 15 passes for 116 yards, seamlessly fitting right back into Jeff Brohm’s offense and clicking with QB Jack Plummer, who was making his first start of the season in place of ailing Aidan O’Connell. Moore added another 20 yards on 3 rushes, including a jet sweep that went for a touchdown.
6. David Bell, WR, Purdue
Bell racked up another 8 catches for 104 yards and 2 TDs, his third 100-yard game out of four.
With Rondale Moore’s dynamic return, Bell will have to share the spotlight in Purdue’s high-powered passing game. Call him co-star rather than sidekick — he’s way more than just a complementary receiver to his fellow sophomore.
5. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson posted his fourth straight 100-yard game, racking up 7 catches for a season-high 169 yards and 2 TDs. The Buckeyes needed all of that to hold off upset-minded Indiana.
The 6-0, 193-pound sophomore is emerging as a star B1G receiver along with Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle, whom he trails by a fraction for the league lead in receiving yards per game.
4. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Indiana
Penix rallied Indiana from 28 points down to a near upset of No. 3 Ohio State, passing for 491 yards and 5 TDs.
Forced by the deficit and the Hoosiers’ total lack of a running game, Penix threw on almost every down of the second half, escaping pressure, buying time, and finding Ty Fryfogle for one big play after another.
Penix now leads all B1G quarterbacks in passing yards per game (312.2) and passing TDs (14).
3. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
He practically took the night off. … I’m kidding, of course.
But 25 carries for 102 yards, both season lows, does count as a light workload for Ibrahim, who still leads the nation in rushing yards per game (163.4) among those who have played at least 4 games. (Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson is at 170.3 through 3 games.)
Ibrahim powered into the end zone three times in Friday night’s 34-31 victory over Purdue, upping his season TD total to 13. The school record for rushing TDs in a season belongs to Gary Russell (18, 2005).
The 5-10, 210-pound junior could really leave his mark on the program if he sticks around another year or two. But a guy working this hard might want to get paid for it sooner than later. He’s looking NFL-ready.
2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The crazy gaudy stats got whacked in a severe test against Indiana. Fields had more incompletions Saturday (12) than he’d had all year (11), and as many INTs (3) as he’d had in his previous 17 starts for the Buckeyes.
But he did pass for 300 yards and 2 TDs, and rush for another 78 yards and a score as No. 3 Ohio State built a 4-TD lead before holding on for a 42-35 victory.
Fields’ completion percentage dropped from 86.7 to 79.6, still tops in the nation and an FBS record if it holds. Odds are it’ll go back up above 80 percent over the next three games — at Illinois, at Michigan State, vs. Michigan.
1. Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana
Fryfogle went off again, and against Ohio State no less, posting season highs with 218 receiving yards and 3 TDs.
Working perfectly in sync with emerging star QB Michael Penix Jr., Fryfogle adjusted routes to free himself up, won 50-50 balls and outmuscled DBs in hand-fighting battles.
The 6-2, 214-pound senior has improved every week, from 27 receiving yards in Week 1 to 55, 142, 200 and 218 — almost perfectly mirroring Penix’s progression. Fryfogle now leads the B1G in total receiving yards (642) and yards per game (128.4).
He’s the first player in B1G history to have consecutive 200-yard receiving games. Next up is Maryland, at home in an early game on Saturday. Let’s hope the Terps can return to action, so the Fryfogle Show can continue unabated.