Week 12 B1G Game Balls
I’m not sure how many times I can keep saying it. But wow, what an epic Saturday of football.
On a day in which we all wondered about how the late-November weather would effect games, B1G players rose above it. Jake Rudock did in leading Michigan to an impressive win in Happy Valley. Anthony Walker did in leading Northwestern to an equally impressive win in Madison. And Michael Geiger certainly did that in leading Michigan State to the most impressive win of the year in college football.
‘Impressive’ was the right word to define Week 12. Those three, plus a few others, were more than worthy of a game ball.
Jake Rudock, Michigan QB — If you haven’t watched the Wolverine quarterback play football since September, you probably won’t recognize Rudock the next time you see him. In a hostile environment against a solid Penn State defense, the Iowa transfer didn’t have his best day, but he was the driving force behind a couple key late drives to fuel the Wolverines. Again.
Taco Charlton, Michigan DE — The Wolverines found the defensive identity that they lacked against Indiana last week. Charlton was a big part of that. He harassed Christian Hackenberg and helped lock down Saquon Barkley after he gashed Michigan for a 56-yard run in the first quarter. Credit Charlton and Co. for answering the bell.
Shannon Brooks, Minnesota RB — Once again, the freshman provided the spark. There are few freshmen in America that have led their team to three wins like Brooks has. The future is bright for the Gopher tailback.
Josh Hicks, Rutgers S — So remember when Hicks was switched to defense for the first time all season? It turned out that was exactly what the Scarlet Knights needed. The team’s second-leading rusher had six tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Hicks is indeed a football player. And a good one.
Paul James, Rutgers RB — For the first time since the 2014 season opener, James went off. Without Hicks to take carries, James had his first 100-yard game and three touchdowns. For a guy that’s dealt with far too many injuries in his career, that effort had to feel good.
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana QB — When Jordan Howard went down, Sudfeld rose up. The IU quarterback accounted for a whopping five touchdowns and nearly 400 yards of offense. In a must-win game to keep bowl hopes alive, IU’s senior leader delivered.
C.J. Beathard, Iowa QB — If you’re sick of me talking about Beathard’s brilliance, I really do apologize. But until he stops stepping up and making plays in winning time, I’m going to keep giving him his props. His three touchdown passes fueled Iowa to its first 11-0 start ever. In a game in which the Hawkeyes didn’t dominate with the run like they usually do, every bit of Beathard’s right arm was needed.
Anthony Walker, Northwestern LB — It seems like whenever the sophomore linebacker plays well, the Wildcats deliver an A+ effort on defense. He led the team in tackles and had a key fourth-quarter interception. Walker helped Northwestern pull off one of its more impressive defensive efforts of the Pat Fitzgerald era.
Michigan State defense — Ohio State only had 132 total yards. That’s mind-boggling. The likes of Shilique Calhoun and Jon Reschke held the defending national champs to just two first downs in the second half. While everyone expected the Buckeyes to finally assert their offensive dominance, MSU delivered one of the top defensive performances — if not the best — in recent memory.
Michael Geiger, Michigan State K — Fittingly, the last guy to make a play on Saturday earned the last game ball. And wow, what a play it was. Geiger’s game-winning kick in some awful conditions gave MSU a monumental triumph in Columbus. He crushed the kick, the celebration and the postgame interview. If that’s not a complete performance, I don’t know what is.