Game Balls: B1G heroes shine in Week 3
I’ve always thought that was an overused cliche phrase. Aren’t we judging teams every Saturday from September to November? Is not every next game on the schedule the biggest of the year?
Well, this was considered by some as judgement week for the conference. Before Big Ten teams beat up on each other, it had a chance to assert its dominance against another conference. The unofficial B1G/ACC challenge, however, wasn’t exactly an evenly skewed matchup. Only one Big Ten team — Iowa against Pitt — was favored to win.
So what does a 2-3 week against the ACC prove? Not a whole lot. But those performances were weighted heavier, especially for guys who make 57-yard field goals FOR THE WIN.
Without any further ado, here are the Week 3 game balls:
Marshall Koehn, Iowa K: Did you see how short Koehn was on his first attempt at a 57-yard game-winner? He was a solid eight or nine yards short from that. How in the world did Koehn muster that much more adrenaline? His game-winner made him an instant Iowa legend. And this unofficial Saturday Tradition game ball will obviously earn him even more clout in Iowa City.
Anthony Walker, Northwestern LB: I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw his halftime stats. He had 14 tackles at the break?! My goodness. Have a day, young fella. More importantly, Walker’s 19 tackles helped the No. 23 Wildcats to another impressive victory. His group has surrendered just 16 points all season. Fittingly, that might be where Northwestern cracks the polls.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB: Are we absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure that this kid is a freshman? I refuse to believe it. I do believe that he’s the Big Ten’s next big star. That’s hardly a bold statement considering he ripped off 195 yards and two more scores. Since Barkley earned his way into the rotation in the second half against Buffalo, Penn State’s offense has been noticeably better. He might be the missing ingredient the Lions offense needed. You know, besides pass protection.
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana QB: I was wrong. I thought Brandon Doughty would be the guy to pick apart the opposing secondary and lead his team to victory. Instead, the IU signal-caller led a 21-point third quarter and fueled a shootout victory. He and Jordan Howard, who could’ve easily been a star for his 203 rushing yards, are quickly becoming one of the conference’s best one-two offensive punches.
Darron Lee, Ohio State LB: Another All-American performance was needed from the Buckeye linebacker. His pick-six was the play of the game in Ohio State’s 20-13, way-too-close-for-comfort victory against Northern Illinois. It’s hard to believe that he had as many touchdowns as Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott combined.
Sean Davis, Maryland CB: Davis and the Maryland secondary needed to respond after they got torched by Bowling Green last week. He helped make that happen with two interceptions in a convincing 35-17 win. Also impressive? No USF receiver had more than 27 yards receiving.
Ty Isaac, Michigan RB: This is really just for one play, but that’s alright. His 76-yard touchdown run was the longest by a Wolverine tailback in six years. He had his first 100-yard day at Michigan, and if he can bust plays like that, that certainly won’t be his last.
Chris Orr, Wisconsin LB: There are two Badger linebackers that Big Ten fans should know well. Orr isn’t one of them. But if the freshman keeps recording 14-tackle games — 11 of which were solo — there will be three Badger linebackers at the top of every scouting report.
Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State WR: Speaking of career days, Burbridge had himself one on Saturday. He had three touchdowns and 156 yards, including arguably the catch of the year on a diving, toe-tapping grab. Was this really the guy that had four touchdowns coming into Saturday? He looks an awful lot like Connor Cook’s new best friend.