Sunday, September 18, 2011
Big Ten helmet stickers: Week 3
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
Decorating the hats of the top Big Ten performers from Week 3:
- Iowa QB James Vandenberg: Through most of the first three quarters, Vandenberg struggled and didn't look like he'd get anywhere near this list. Then the junior rebooted and helped his team score four touchdowns in the final 16:16 as Iowa beat Pitt 31-27. Vandenberg ran for the first one and threw the next three, finishing 31-of-48 for 399 yards. He may have come of age as the Hawkeyes' leader with that comeback.
- Illinois LB Jonathan Brown: Brown turned in a breakout performance for a pressuring Illini defense in the 17-14 win against No. 22 Arizona State. The sophomore recorded seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception as Illinois held Arizona State's offense to 28.5 points below its season average. An honorable mention goes to DE Whitney Mercilus (2 sacks, forced fumble).
- Penn State LB Michael Mauti and DE Sean Stanley: The entire Nittany Lions defense saved the day against Temple, but Mauti and Stanley deserve kudos for their individual efforts. Mauti recorded three tackles for loss and an interception that set up Penn State's game-winning touchdown drive. Stanley recorded two forced fumbles, two tackles for loss and a sack as he gave Penn State a much-needed presence on the edge of the line.
- Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson: Before long, Wilson will run out of room on his helmet. He's 3-for-3 in stickers now after another brilliant performance against Northern Illinois. Wilson was again displayed pinpoint accuracy and calm, completing 23-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson finally did throw his first interception of the year on his last throw of the game, a meaningless play in the fourth quarter with his team up 42-7.
- Minnesota QB Marqueis Gray: The Gophers needed their quarterback to step up and he answered the bell as the team finally notched its first win. Gray racked up 334 offensive yards (171 rush, 163 pass) and led five scoring drives. His 171 rush yards marked the most by a Minnesota QB in team history, and he became the first Gophers signal caller to run for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games since Billy Cockerham in 1999.