Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's time to recognize some of the Big Ten's best and brightest after a fascinating day of football.
Minnesota DE Willie VanDeSteeg
Minnesota DE Willie VanDeSteeg-- The Gophers' junior college transfers have undoubtedly helped a new-look defense, but VanDeSteeg is setting the tone up front. After playing last season with a broken bone in his wrist, VanDeSteeg is proving that when healthy, he's one of the Big Ten's top pass rushers. VanDeSteeg recorded three sacks in the road win at Illinois, forced the Juice Williams fumble that Simoni Lawrence returned for a touchdown, and hit Williams as he threw a pass that Ryan Collado intercepted.
Penn State DE Aaron Maybin -- The sophomore has established himself as the Big Ten's top young pass rusher. Maybin, who entered the night with the Big Ten sacks lead, racked up another sack and 3.5 tackles for loss as Penn State stomped Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. He forced two fumbles, including one just before halftime that set up Penn State's cleat-in-the-throat touchdown. Maybin leads Penn State and is tied for the league lead in tackles for loss with 12.5 this season.
Iowa RB Jewel Hampton -- Shonn Greene has been as consistent as they come, but Iowa boasts another ball-carrying option. Hampton, a true freshman, had 22 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns in Iowa's much-needed rout of Indiana. Hampton set career highs in all three categories and became the first Iowa player to score three touchdowns in a game since tight end Tony Moeaki on Sept. 8, 2007.
Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer -- The oft-criticized senior epitomized Michigan State's mistake-free performance at Northwestern. Hoyer made Northwestern respect the passing game and completed 14 of 20 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. His ability to manage the game and capitalize on Wildcats mistakes helped the Spartans win their sixth consecutive game and vault into league title contention.