Week 4 B1G Game Balls
It’s not easy to hand out game balls when the B1G goes 12-2. I’m not complaining. That’s a good problem to have.
Another guy hit a game-winning field goal. A true freshman was the star in his first game involved in the offense. A veteran defensive end played one of the best games of his four-year career.
The candidates were worthy, and on Saturday, they were aplenty. Without further ado, let’s hand out some make-belief footballs.
Taylor Zalewski, Illinois K: Make it two weeks in a row that I’m showing a kicker love before anybody else. Zalewski stepped up and drilled a 51-yard kick to give Illinois a comeback victory against Middle Tennessee State. Credit Zalewski for shaking off a miss earlier and two last week to earn redemption in game-winning fashion.
Jordan Canzeri, Iowa RB: When you tie a school record, you earn a game ball. That’s a general rule I like to go by. Canzeri scored FOUR touchdowns for Iowa with starter LeShun Daniels still working his way back to full strength. Couple that with C.J. Beathard’s 15-for-15 first half, and it’s no wonder Iowa put up 62 points.
Penn State defensive line: Anthony Zettel had 2.5 tackles for loss and had a fumble recovery despite the fact that he was playing a day after his dad died. Carl Nassib recorded his nation-leading seventh sack. And Austin Johnson had a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown. What more do you want?
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern QB: A career-high three touchdown passes were needed after the Wildcats were trailing to Ball State. He hit some wide-open targets, but he stepped up and made the key throws when he needed to. Just like that, the redshirt freshman is leading a soon-to-be top-15 team in the country.
Jordan Howard, Indiana RB: The nation’s leading rusher looked the part yet again. He ripped off 168 yards and fueled the Hoosiers to a nice little road victory at Wake Forest. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do against No. 1 Ohio State next week.
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State LB: So that was why McMillan was so highly touted coming out of high school. The sophomore linebacker was all over the field Saturday and finished with a career-high 16 tackles and a sack. The least experienced member of the Buckeye linebacking core played like a veteran in another stout defensive effort.
Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State DE: A field goal and 2.5 sacks made it one of the more memorable days of Calhoun’s storied career. On a day when the Spartans lacked sparks, Calhoun plenty of life on the defensive side.
Taiwain Deal, Wisconsin RB: The freshman back made Wisconsin fans forget that the starter was sidelined on Saturday night. Deal had a career-high 147 yards and two scores to pace the Badgers to another dominant home win.
Shane Brooks, Minnesota RB: Speaking of freshmen running backs, one had a big day in the Twin Cities, too. On the same day Brooks got his first career carry, he also scored two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in the final 30 seconds. Welcome to the B1G, rookie.
Freedom Akinmoladun, Nebraska DE: Everybody in Lincoln had to be thinking, ‘Here we go again,’ when Southern Mississippi had a chance for a last-second Hail-Mary heave. Then the redshirt freshman demolished Nick Mullens for his second sack of the day, and more importantly, sealed the Nebraska win.
Jake Rudock, Michigan QB: No B1G team played better against a quality opponent than Michigan did on Saturday. It finally all came together for Rudock. He had a touchdown pass to Amara Darboh and even ran in a pair of scores to lift Michigan to its first win over ranked team in two years. For a guy who’s been taking some serious heat, Rudock stepped up and quieted his doubters, at least for one dominant afternoon.