Ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten entering Week 10: JT Tuimoloau steals another spot for Ohio State
JT Tuimoloau stripped Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford of the ball once, and of his dignity repeatedly.
The rest of Ohio State’s defense wasn’t getting much done Saturday afternoon in a hostile road environment, so the 6-4, 270-pound sophomore took matters into his own hands.
The right-handed Clifford should have seen Tuimoloau coming, given that he was usually curling off the defensive left edge. But apparently, the 6th-year Nittany Lion couldn’t gage the speed or ferocity with which Tuimoloau was arriving.
The strip-sack, the batted ball that led to a teammate’s interception and Tuimoloau’s game-sealing 4th-quarter pick-6 all came from at or near point-blank range. His other interception involved jumping a short route and displaying soft hands to keep the ball off the ground.
The stat sheet says Ohio State won the turnover battle 4-0. In truth, a 2021 5-star recruit enjoying a coming out party won that battle single-handedly. Given that No. 13 Penn State racked up almost 500 yards and held a 21-16 4th-quarter lead, it’s fair to say Tuimoloau saved the No. 2 Buckeyes from a calamitous result.
He not only crashed Nittany Nation’s would-be jubilation, he’s crashed our list of the top 10 players in the Big Ten. The rest of the list hasn’t changed, except for a tweak in the order.
Here’s what we have heading into a full B1G slate of games this weekend:
10. Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
No one on the nation’s best defense put up huge stats in a 26-9 victory over Nebraska, and here’s the reason: Only 36 plays — not including special teams — provided the potential for Illini tackles. The Huskers ran 25 times and completed 11 passes while being limited to 248 yards.
Newton, a 6-2, 295-pound sophomore defensive lineman, made 2 tackles, including 1 of the team’s 2 sacks. He ranks 4th in the B1G in sacks (5) and 3rd in TFL (9). Next up is visit from suspension-depleted Michigan State, a chance for Newton to record a sack for the 6th time in 8 games.
According to Pro Football Focus, he terrorizes quarterbacks even when he doesn’t finish them off.
Jer’Zhan Newton: 35 QB pressures so far this season
Leads all FBS defenders🔥 pic.twitter.com/JfgOZPVoKZ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 20, 2022
9. JT Tuimoloau, DE, Ohio State
You’ve heard by now that the 6-4, 270-pound sophomore defensive end had himself a day against Penn State.
— The OHIO Podcast (@TheOHIOPod) November 1, 2022
Ranked the No. 4 prospect in the country in 247sports’ composite recruiting rankings for 2021, Tuimoloau had a coming out party in State College at Sean Clifford’s expense. He had a hand in all 4 Penn State turnovers, intercepting 2 passes directly, batting another 1 to a teammate and stripping the ball from Clifford and recovering it. He returned his 2nd INT for a 4th-quarter touchdown, killing the Nittany Lions’ hopes for an upset.
8. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
The transfer from Iowa will have a chance to further rub salt in his former school’s wound when the offensively-inept Hawkeyes visit Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday. Jones exited Iowa City seeking a modern offense in which to ply his wares, and boy did he find it.
Coming off a bye week, the grad transfer will look to add to his season totals of 72 catches, 840 yards and 9 TDs — which all rank top 6 or better in the nation. Jones has already blown away his combined totals from 1 year with Buffalo and 2 with the Hawkeyes. The 6-0, 188-pound Jones will aim for his 6th 100-yard game this season after having only 1 for Iowa.
7. Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
The grad transfer from Virginia, a Rimington Award finalist last year, helped Michigan pile up 276 rushing yards in its victory over Michigan State. The grind-it-out Wolverines rank 5th in the country in rushing yards per game and have a Heisman candidate in running back Blake Corum. In his 43rd college start, Oluwatimi, who goes 6-3 and 307, was a central figure in the success.
Next up on the misery-making tour for big No. 55 and his line mates is a Saturday evening stop in New Jersey to trample B1G East foe Rutgers.
6. Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State
The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore played a complementary role to bookend receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. in a win over Penn State, making 6 grabs for 53 yards.
With 47 receptions for 788 yards on the season — almost identical numbers to Harrison — Egbuka comprises half of a dynamic duo that makes life easy for Heisman-contending quarterback CJ Stroud.
5. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
The 6-4, 205-pound sophomore made all variety of catches while snaring 10 passes for 185 yards against Penn State’s highly regarded secondary. The Lions were able to keep Harrison out of the end zone — no small task — but otherwise couldn’t stop him.
C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. are both semifinalists for the Maxwell Award while Tommy Eichenberg is a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award: https://t.co/ks36AqUPtA
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) November 1, 2022
4. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
With Tanner Morgan back at quarterback to make play action at least slightly believable, Ibrahim pounded the Rutgers defense 36 times for 159 yards and 3 TDs. He’s now Minnesota’s all-time leader in total touchdowns with 46, all of them on the ground, in a career spanning 5 seasons.
Mohamed Ibrahim's 44th career touchdown officially breaks Darrell Thompson's 33 year-old program record (43 TDs).
— Tony Liebert (@TonyLiebert) October 29, 2022
His streak of 100-yard games stands at 16 heading into Saturday’s game at Nebraska. He ranks 4th in the country in yards per game and 3rd in attempts per game.
3. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Corum posted his 5th straight game with well over 100 rushing yards with 177 against Michigan State. He leads the nation in conference-only yards per game, 168.6, which is 8 yards per game better than Illinois’ Chase Brown, who is No. 2 in the B1G and the country in that regard.
If the 5-8, 210-pound blend of power, elusiveness and speed hadn’t exited early against Michigan’s 3 non-con cupcakes, he might be leading the Heisman race at this point. He easily could have had 400 more rushing yards through the first 3 weeks, when he finished south of 100 yards each time.
As it is, he’s top 5 in the trophy chase heading into Saturday’s game at Rutgers. And more importantly, he’s helping Michigan contend for a return trip to the Playoff.
2. Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
Rested after a bye week, Brown carried 32 times for 149 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Nebraska.
That was just the latest proof that the 5-11, 205-pound junior belongs in one of those “never not working” commercials. He leads the nation in attempts (224, 28.0 per game) and yards (1,208). With all those touches, he’s fumbled only twice and lost only 1 this season. In fact, that 1 is the only fumble he’s lost in his past 33 games for the Illini. How’s that for reliability.
1. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud connected on 78.8 percent of his throws for 354 yards Saturday at a rocking Beaver Stadium, the best completion percentage against Penn State by an opposing quarterback this year. He added only 1 passing TD to his nation-leading total (29), but importantly didn’t commit a turnover.
#ICYMI: C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. were on the same page all Saturday afternoon, moving the chains in key situations 🔥 as part of an @OhioStateFB 🏈 44-31 win over Penn State. 👏 pic.twitter.com/R2oqOUb5m4
— BCSN (@BCSNsports) October 31, 2022
He really made only 1 bad play, holding the ball too long and taking a sack to end the first half, costing his team a field goal attempt. He’ll try to do better in an early game Saturday at Northwestern.