Power ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten through Week 6
It was a strange weekend in a B1G season that gets stranger by the hour.
Two games got canceled, Northwestern looked awful in suffering its first loss and Penn State actually looked decent in posting its first victory.
Individually, the guy who was topping this list, Indiana WR Ty Fryfogle — coming off consecutive 200-yard games — caught 2 balls for 10 yards. This week’s top 10 party crasher did almost all his damage on one play, a 100-yard kickoff return.
Only one receiver topped 100 yards all weekend. His team lost. No QB topped 300 yards, and only 3 topped 200 — and they combined for 6 INTs and all lost.
At least my favorite defensive tackle put in another great day of work for Iowa and jumped into the top 5 of this list.
Here’s how it looks after 6 weeks of play:
Honorable mention: Chris Bergin, LB, Northwestern; Chance Campbell, LB, Maryland; Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State; Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers; Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa; Zander Horvath, RB, Purdue; Keyvone Lee, RB, Penn State; Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State; Jack Plummer, QB, Purdue; Antjuan Simmons, LB, Michigan State; Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland; Master Teague, RB, Ohio State.
10. Aron Cruickshank, WR-KR, Rutgers
The junior’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown sparked a 17-0 game-closing rally as the Scarlet Knights upset Purdue on the road. The 5-10, 160-pound speedster has more kickoff returns (19) for more yards (464) than anyone else in the B1G. At 24.4 per return, he’s second only to Giles Jackson of Michigan (27.2 on 13 returns).
Cruickshank also had 1 rush and 1 reception for another 14 yards, boosting his all-purpose total to 706 yards, second best in the B1G. More than just a specialist, he ranks second on the Scarlet Knights in receptions (29) and third in receiving yards (202).
9. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Indiana
Penix struggled mightily before leaving Saturday’s game against Maryland in the second half with an injury. One week after lighting up Ohio State for 491 yards and 5 TDs, Penix went 6-of-19 for 84 yards and no TDs in an odd, 27-11 victory.
Monday brought word that he is done for the season. Let’s keep him in the top 10 for one more week, a tip of the cap to the excitement he brought to Indiana and the B1G this season.
8. Brandon Joseph, DB, Northwestern
He didn’t add to his league-leading INT total (5), but the freshman did record his first double-digit tackles games, making 10 total stops. He remains fourth on his team in tackles, behind the Wildcats’ trio of solid, steady linebackers — Blake Gallagher, Paddy Fisher and Chris Bergin.
7. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
In his second game back after a long layoff, Moore wasn’t as electric as the week before. But he did post team highs with 7 catches for 76 yards in a loss to Rutgers. He added 2 rushes for 5 yards.
6. David Bell, WR, Purdue
Bell racked up another 4 catches for 68 yards and a TD, his 7th in 5 games.
5. Ty Fryfogle, WR, Indiana
Fryfogle didn’t post a third straight 200-yard receiving game, falling 190 yards short of the mark.
Talk about your buzz kill. QB Michael Penix Jr. struggled and suffered an injury, and the Hoosiers chose to dominate shorthanded Maryland with their ground game and defense. These things happen. No Hoosier had more than 2 receptions or 39 yards receiving.
4. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The 6-0, 193-pound sophomore leads the B1G with 128.3 receiving yards per game and ranks second with 7.8 receptions per game. He’s become the Buckeyes’ 1A to Chris Olave’s 1B at receiver, and that’s saying something. QB Justin Fields will be in good hands if and when Ohio State can return to the field.
3. Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
With another 8 tackles Friday against Nebraska, Nixon continues to hang in rarified air for a defensive tackle. Now with 36 tackles on the season, he’s the only 300-pounder — and 1 of only 3 defensive lineman — among the top 50 tacklers in the B1G. Nixon ranks tied for 26th in the league in tackles; the next closest 300-pounder/interior lineman, Penn State’s PJ Mustipher, is tied for 52nd with 27 stops.
With 3 tackles for loss against the Huskers, Nixon regained the conference lead in TFLs (11.5). With 1 sack boosting his season total to 5, he leads the B1G in that category, too.
The breakout season by the former junior college player also includes a 71-yard interception return for a TD and a forced fumble. He’s a big reason Iowa is on a 4-game winning streak.
2. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Well, the man needed a rest.
Averaging 31 carries for 163.4 yards through 5 games, Ibrahim struggled by his 2020 standards in Week 5 against Purdue with 25 carries for 102 yards. He also appeared to suffer (or aggravate) a minor wrist injury late in that game.
Still, it’s a shame Covid issues at Minnesota have slowed his roll, because he was on track for some historic numbers despite the shortened season.
How good has he been? He still leads Iowa’s Tyler Goodson for the B1G lead in rushing by 253 yards. That good.
1. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
A Covid outbreak in the Buckeyes program stopped Fields for at least a weekend, something B1G opponents haven’t been able to do over these past 2 seasons.
If he and the Buckeyes can play the next 2 weeks, against Michigan State and Michigan, Fields should be able to pad his nationally relevant, historically excellent stats.
As it stands, he’s blowing away to the rest of the B1G quarterbacks in efficiency rating and passing yards per game (302.0).