Ranking the top 10 players in the Big Ten entering Week 12: Iowa's defense is due some recognition
Iowa is on a roll, which gives us a chance to recognize a couple players off a defense that has been getting it done all year.
Linebacker Jack Campbell and defensive back Cooper DeJean have played key roles in the Hawkeyes’ 3-game winning streak, and particularly in their 24-10 victory Saturday over Wisconsin. So some perhaps overdue recognition is coming here, though we’ve had DeJean in our top 10 previously.
Elsewhere around the Big Ten, Marvin Harrison Jr. is separating himself from Ohio State’s cast of highly skilled receivers, Wisconsin’s Nick Herbig is on a sack rampage, and the league’s stud running backs are still pounding away.
There’s not much in the way of good quarterback play outside of CJ Stroud, but that’s the nature of the B1G in November, especially this year.
We have a wide-ranging group of players in the top 10 as the Big Ten heads into Week 12 and another full slate of Saturday games.
10. Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin
The 6-2, 228-pound Hawaii native leads the Big Ten in sacks (11) and TFL (15.5) after taking down Iowa’s Spencer Petras 3 times in a 24-10 loss to the Hawkeyes.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 12, 2022
That’s 5 sacks over the past 2 games for Herbig, a junior edge linebacker who totaled 8 tackles against Iowa. He has at least 1 sack in 7 of the 9 games he’s played in this season and 20 over 22 games since last season kicked off.
9. Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
The heart and soul of the Iowa program, Campbell reached 100 tackles for the 2nd straight season, racking up 11 in Saturday’s key B1G West victory over Wisconsin. The 6-5, 246-pound middle linebacker is the first B1G player to hit the 100 mark this season, leading a defense that ranks No. 3 in the country, allowing just 260.7 yards per game.
Beyond what he does on the field, Campbell has been the vocal leader of the program, defending coaches and teammates from early season criticism and promising to never give up. Ever.
Iowa MLB Jack Campbell: “We’re just going to continue to push through. Never give up. I’m not saying the Iowa Hawkeyes are never going to lose in November ever again (13 in a row), but if we just focus on us and look internally, we have a great shot of continuing the success.”
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) November 13, 2022
With 3 straight victories, things are looking up in Iowa City ahead of the Hawkeyes’ trip to Minnesota for another key B1G West showdown on Saturday. Campbell, a senior with a year of eligibility remaining, will play a key role as Iowa tries to limit power back Mohamed Ibrahim and the Gophers.
8. Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue
The transfer from Iowa added 4 catches and 66 yards to his B1G-leading totals (87 for 1,010 yards), including a 32-yard TD grab, in a 31-24 victory over Illinois and its previously No. 1-ranked defense.
Jones has been a 1-man receiving show at times this season, but against the Illini his presence opened things up for tight end Payne Durham (7-70, 2 TDs) and TJ Sheffield (6-72). Aidan O’Connell’s boyhood friend and favorite target, Jones has 10 TDs in as many games as a Boilermaker.
At least some NFL talent evaluators think he’s the real deal, too, not just a product of Jeff Brohm’s pass-happy system.
7. Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
A pick-6, a 41-yard punt return to set up a touchdown, 10 tackles. Cooper DeJean was at it again against Wisconsin.
The 6-1, 210-pound sophomore continued his breakout season with his 4th interception and second TD of the year. With 60 tackles, he run-fills from the secondary as well as the best the B1G has to offer.
Cooper DeJean robbed off all-Big Ten Weekly Conference Honors.
32-yard Pick-Six, forced fumble, 10 tackles, 82 punt return yards and one of the most dominant all-around games you'll see.
— David Eickholt (@DavidEickholt) November 14, 2022
According to the AP game story, DeJean also helped down a punt at the 1-yard line the possession before his punt return. “What doesn’t Coop do well?” Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather said. “The ceiling for him is the sky.”
6. Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
The grad transfer from Virginia, a Rimington Award finalist last year, helped Michigan pile up 264 yards on the ground to steamroll Nebraska.
While other Wolverines linemen have been in and out of the lineout, Oluwatimi has played in all 10 games to extend his career streak to 45 starts. Michigan ranks No. 4 in the country in rushing offense and has only given up 12 sacks in 10 games.
5. Chase Brown, RB, Illinois
In a tough loss to Purdue, Brown had his streak of 100-yard rushing games end at 10. He posted 98 yards and 2 TDs on 23 carries, plus another 32 yards on 3 receptions.
The 5-11, 205-pound junior still leads the nation in rushing attempts (280) and yards (1,442), but that might come to an end on Saturday. Brown hurt his leg late in the loss to Purdue and is questionable for this weekend’s game at Michigan, in which the Illini are 17.5-point underdogs.
4. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Ibrahim pounded into Northwestern’s defense 36 times for 178 yards and 3 TDs, making life easy for rookie quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. Just hand off and get out of the way, kid.
Most rush yards after contact among Power Five RBs:
🐿 Mohamed Ibrahim – 388 pic.twitter.com/LsYfvSPxQA
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 30, 2022
His streak of 100-yard rushing games is now at 18 (longest in the FBS since 2000) and his career TD total at 51 (all rushing) ahead of a visit from Iowa and its stout defense. He’s 254 yards from Darrell Thompson’s Minnesota career rushing record of 4,518 yards, which has stood since 1989.
3. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
The 6-4, 205-pound sophomore snared 7 passes for 135 yards and a TD against Indiana. That’s the 3rd straight game he’s led Ohio State in receiving yards, and the score was his B1G-leading 11th TD catch.
Most impressively, he put on a mid-game contortionist act.
Marvin Harrison Jr. is UNREAL 😳
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 12, 2022
He’s 31 yards shy of 1,000 heading into Saturday’s trip to Maryland.
2. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Corum posted his 7th straight game with over 100 rushing yards with 162 against Nebraska. He continues to lead the nation in conference-only rushing yards at 1,114 (just under 160/game).
Overall, the 5-8, 210-pound junior has 1,349 yards on the season, 3rd best in the country. He likely will hit Michigan’s single-season top 10 list this weekend against Illinois.
1. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
One week after throwing for a career-low 76 yards in harsh weather at Northwestern, Stroud carved up Indiana for 297 yards and 5 TDs as snow fell in Columbus.
Now at 34 TD passes this season after 44 a year ago, Stroud stands as the first Big Ten quarterback with back-to-back 30-TD seasons since … forever.
— Ohio State Buckeyes on SR (@SRBuckeyes) November 14, 2022
Stroud, still the nation’s leader in QB rating, will look to keep the Heisman campaign rolling Saturday at Maryland (3:30, ABC).