Saturday, October 23, 2010
Big Ten helmet stickers: Week 8
By Adam Rittenberg
It's that time again.
Here are your best and brightest from Week 8 in the Big Ten.
Punters Brad Nortman and Aaron Bates: Did you think I'd resist the chance to give helmet stickers to punters? Ha! Both these guys are well deserving after their roles in huge fourth-quarter fakes that led to come-from-behind victories. Nortman stunned Iowa with a 17-yard run on fourth-and-4 deep in Wisconsin territory during the Badgers' 31-30 victory, and Bates hit Bennie Fowler with a 23-yard completion on fourth-and-11 in the Spartans' 35-27 come-from-behind win. Bates, who also passed for a touchdown on a fake field goal against Notre Dame, now has a passer rating of 475. Not bad.
Michigan State's receivers: Some of you scoffed when I ranked Michigan State's receivers and tight ends as the Big Ten's best group before the season. They showed why Saturday with a tremendous collective effort against Northwestern. Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham combined for 17 receptions, 220 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while Keith Nichol had two huge catches on the game-winning drive. And who can forget redshirt freshman Bennie Fowler, the recipient of the "Mousetrap" who also had a 22-yard touchdown run.
Ohio State LB Andrew Sweat: The Buckeyes defense missed a big piece Saturday in senior linebacker Ross Homan (foot), but Sweat stepped up in a big way to fill the void in a 49-0 win over Purdue. Sweat led a suffocating defensive effort with eight tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. He shares the sticker with the rest of the defense, which held Purdue to nine first downs and just 118 total yards.
Illinois LB Martez Wilson: It has been a long, hard road for Wilson, but he's finally performing like the player we thought he'd be when he arrived in 2007. The junior led Illinois with 12 tackles, blocked a punt (one of two for Illinois) and recorded a pass breakup in a 43-13 win over Indiana. He shares the sticker with fellow defenders Patrick Nixon-Youman and Jonathan Brown, both of whom had interception returns for touchdowns.
Penn State RBs Evan Royster and Silas Redd: The Lions needed a lift from the run game after Rob Bolden went down with a head injury, and both Royster and Redd provided one. The senior and the freshman combined for 133 rush yards and a touchdown on only 19 carries in a 33-21 win over Minnesota. Receiver Derek Moye also came up big with touchdown catches of 42 and 9 yards.