Power ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten heading into Week 5: Blake Corum coming through
The sorting process continues here at ST Rankings Central.
We had to make room for 5 new members to our exclusive club. Michigan RB Blake Corum led a handful of Big Ten players who forced us to pay attention in Week 4. We’re looking for “wow” factor, dominant stats, value added to one’s team and undeniable skill.
To stay in this top 10, a player needs to bring it every week.
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We jettisoned RB Nick Singleton (Penn State), WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), RB Evan Hull (Northwestern), RB Roman Hemby (Maryland) and K Charles Campbell (Indiana) after their quiet outings on Saturday. Several of them may be back as the season goes on.
But for now, this is what we have:
10. Brenton Strange, TE, Penn State
James Franklin thinks he has the best tight end group in the country. That opinion is biased, obviously, but perhaps not far from the truth. And the 6-3, 247-pound Strange leads the way. After his first career 2-TD day, Strange ranks 2nd on the team in receiving yards (211), 3rd in catches (14) and tied for 1st in TD receptions (3). Among B1G tight ends, the yards and TDs both rank No. 1.
Brenton Strange in the last two games:
11 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs#WeAre
— Whiteout Weekly (@whiteoutweekly) September 24, 2022
I’ll say it again, Brenton Strange has been the center piece of this offense through four weeks. Unbelievable change from last year to now.
— TK 🦁 (@PSU_TK) September 24, 2022
Add in his run-blocking and ability to rumble after the catch, and Strange counts as a key cog in Penn State’s revamped offense.
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9. Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
The 6-1, 209-pound sophomore has intercepted passes in 3 straight games, taking the latest one 45 yards for a touchdown as Iowa upended Rutgers with dominant defense.
Cooper DeJean has caught as many balls this season as most of Iowa’s receivers.
— Hawkeye Nation (@hawkeyenation) September 24, 2022
In addition to leading the B1G in picks, DeJean ranks 2nd to Penn State’s Joey Porter nationally in passes defended. He’s 3rd on the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 scoring defense with 24 tackles.
Note to the Ferentzes: This guy won back-to-back state titles in high school as a quarterback. Just saying.
8. John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Mo Ibrahim has 13 straight 100-yard rushing games. Tanner Morgan, sacked only twice in 4 games, is so comfortable in the pocket that he’s 2nd in the nation in completion percentage. Minnesota is 4-0, finally ranked in the Top 25, and averaging 543 yards per game. The Golden Gophers lead the nation in time of possession, holding the ball for more than 40 minutes per game.
The 6-4, 320-pound Schmitz is literally in the middle of all that. As the only returning starter on the offensive line, the 6th-year senior anchors the Gophers’ attack. His perseverance and hard work have paid off, as he’s in the argument for best NFL Draft-eligible center in the country.
Highest-graded Power Five centers this season:
🥇 John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota – 87.8
🥈 Brett Neilon, USC – 87.5
🥉 Jacob Gall, Baylor – 81.7 pic.twitter.com/RZoyi85VPq
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 16, 2022
7. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Corum flew under the radar playing limited snaps as the Wolverines devoured their 3 non-conference cupcakes.
But when Maryland brought a B1G challenge to The Big House, Corum shifted gears and carried 30 times for 243 yards and 2 TDs to keep No. 4 Michigan undefeated.
As suddenly as that, the 5-8, 210-pound sophomore leads the nation in scoring (9 TDs) and ranks top 5 in the B1G in yards per game and per attempt.
6. JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan
After a steady B1G starting debut vs. Maryland, McCarthy leads the nation in completion rate (80%). His season totals are modest, but he’s slowly gaining traction since taking the starting job for good in Week 2. The 2021 5-star recruit has 5 TDs and is the only B1G starting QB who hasn’t yet thrown an interception in 2022.
He faces his first B1G road start Saturday at Iowa, which has the top scoring defense in the nation.
5. Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
The 5-11, 205-pound junior has been Bret Bielema’s workhorse back through 4 games, and he’s gone over 100 rushing yards in each after netting 108 in a 31-0 victory over Chattanooga on Thursday night.
Averaging a nation’s best 151.0 rushing yards per game, Brown will face his toughest test so far this season Saturday at Wisconsin.
4. Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
After 6 catches for 118 yards and 2 TDs vs. Wisconsin, Egbuka moved slightly ahead of Marvin Harrison Jr. for the status of CJ Stroud’s top target. The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore leads the Buckeyes in catches (26), receiving yards (442) and receiving TDs (5, tied with Harrison). After 3 straight 100-yard games, he’s averaging 110.5 yards per game, 2nd in the B1G and 5th in the country.
This is such a tight window throw from CJ Stroud to Emeka Egbuka. Ripped that thing in there between the CB and S for his 4th TD pass tonight. pic.twitter.com/MVmDbWAbWb
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) September 25, 2022
3. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Ibrahim extended his streak of 100-yard rushing games to a nation’s best 13 and set a school record with his 41st career rushing touchdown.
Mohamed Ibrahim breaks @GopherFootball's career rushing TD record with 41! 👏
Minnesota on top! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WAwshHD0op
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 24, 2022
Michigan State had no answer for Ibrahim or anything else the Gophers threw at it in a 34-7 loss at home.
The tough-as-nails 24-year-old super senior has the Gophers at 4-0 and looking like the favorite in the B1G West. Ibrahim’s power running allows Minnesota to play clock-eating, grind-it-out football. The Gophers held the ball for 42:30 and racked up 32 first downs on Saturday.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM IS THE BEST RB IN THE NATION
— * (@chrisautmanbell) September 24, 2022
2. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
Even with Aidan O’Connell out with an injury, Jones remained one of the toughest covers in the nation, catching 9 passes for 59 passes and 2 touchdowns to help backup QB Austin Burton and the Boilermakers edge Florida Atlantic 28-26.
Purdue WR Charlie Jones Hauls in 2nd TD vs. Florida Atlantic | Big Ten Football
— Anthony Fiato (@LAmobslugger) September 25, 2022
Held under 100 yards for the first time this season, Jones nonetheless made his presence felt. He continues to lead B1G receivers in catches (41), yards (533) and TDs (7). Those numbers rank 1st, 3rd and 1st nationally.
1. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
The redshirt sophomore is building momentum — for his Heisman campaign and the Buckeyes’ quest to make the CFP.
He completed his first 8 passes as the Buckeyes raced to a 21-0 first-quarter lead against helpless Wisconsin. The rest was gravy, and the 6-3, 218-pound redshirt sophomore coasted to a 281-yard, 5-TD game.
Even after throwing his first interception of the season, Stroud continues to look like the most unstoppable offensive force in the Big Ten.