Penn State (Conf: 1-0, Overall: 3-2)
With the likes of Tamba Hali, Paul Posluszny, and Lavar Arrington it’s no wonder why Penn State has the nickname Linebacker U. Adding another Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor to his resume, Michael Mauti might be the next linebacker added to that list.
In Saturdays 35-7 thrashing of Illinois, Mauti had six total tackles, half a sack, and two interceptions winning his second DPOW of the season and helping the Nittany Lions to a three game win streak.
When speaking of his senior linebacker, O’Brien said that he couldn’t think of anyone Mauti reminded him of playing still wise, but had very similar characteristics to previous linebackers he’s coached including Keith Brooking and Jerod Mayo.
Mauti also drew a ton of praise from Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald this week.
“Michael is terrific with his key reads, he’s got great eyes, and he’s very instinctual.” Fitzgerald said.
The whole linebacking core will surely have their hands full this week as they go up against 5-0 Northwestern and dual threat athlete Kain Colter. Last week Colter tore apart the Indiana Hoosier defense both through the ground and catching passes.
With Northwestern on a roll right now, the Penn State defense will be asked to shut down one of the best offensive threats in all of college football if the Nittany Lions want to upset the Wildcats.
Ohio State (Conf: 1-0, Overall: 5-0) #12 AP Poll
Against what many believed to be the best defense in the Big Ten, Braxton Miler turned in another Heisman worthy performance throwing for a touchdown and rushing for 136 yards and playing through injury after being noticeably shaken up twice.
A win in East Lansing on Saturday 17-16, should give the Buckeyes a ton of confidence as they remain unbeaten and climb up the ranks.
Taking big hit after big hit left Miller bruised and beaten in Saturdays contest, but his toughness was what coach Meyer and the rest of the team were so impressed with.
“ He’s not a guy that goes down easy,” Meyer Said. “ He’s a very respected guy amongst our players.”
This coming week, Miller will be going up against a mirror image of himself in that of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Both are willing runners who can take off at any time.
Both teams are coming off of physical, close wins as Nebraska staged a late comeback in beating Wisconsin Saturday night.
It should be a very exciting game on Saturday as two top 25 teams square off in Columbus, and as both Heisman Hopefuls will look to make a statement in primetime.
Wisconsin (Conf: 0-1, Overall: 3-2)
With leads of 17 on more then one occasion, it seemed like Wisconsin was going to pull off the upset in Lincoln. That lead dwindled late in the third as Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers tied the game up and later won on a field goal in the 4th quarter.
Just as their offense is seemingly catching fire, the Badgers defense is now struggling as they allowed 440 total yards and 30 points losing by three.
A week after leaving with a concussion against UTEP, Montee Ball came back vs. Nebraska and continued to be the workhorse that he is, rushing for 3 touchdowns but only averaging 2.8 yards per rush.
With the struggles continuing, head coach Brett Bielema still notices an extra burst of quickness in Ball’s step. The current Badgers in the NFL are also noticing this, some have commented on how they believe Ball is a better runner this year.
Although he struggles have continued longer then expected, Bielema still believes in his team and the attitude surrounding it.
“ Its been a year of transition and change, the good news is that everyone of those is moving forward.” Bielema said.
This week Wisconsin will play an Illinois team who is struggling mightily on both sides of the football, making this a game where the Badgers can look to regain their confidence.
If the Badgers cant beat Illinois in Camp Randall, the disappointment that has been the 2012-2013 season could continue as they travel to face Purdue next week.
Illinois (Conf: 0-1, Overall: 2-3)
In their past 4 games, Illinois has been outscored 132-45 going 1-3 in those games with their latest loss being at the hands of Penn State 35-7.
It was widely known that Illinois might have some problems on offense with the departure of A.J Jenkins to the NFL, but no one believed that a defense as talented as this unit could struggle as much as they have.
This defense is allowing 27.8 points a game, which could be much higher if it wasn’t for a shut out against Charleston Southern.
With last years struggles to end the season, head coach Tim Beckman is trying to make sure that his team doesn’t dwell on those losses while focusing on upcoming games.
“ Its something we’re dealing with everyday,” Beckman said. “ But I’m proud of the way they’ve been practicing.
The matchup against Wisconsin this weekend will be a matchup of two Big Ten teams who just haven’t been able to put full games together and teams that are underachieving compared to their preseason expectations.
Its tough to say what you’ll see in this game as both teams have been shaky at best on both sides of the ball.
Illinois is going to have sure up things on the defensive side of the ball regardless of what happens on Saturday if they hope to win because Wisconsin still has all the personnel to put up 40 points.
Purdue (Conf: 0-0, Overall 3-1)
With their most reason win, their strong defense, and with it being a down year in the Big Ten, Purdue is becoming the trendy pick to not only win the Leaders division, but to also possible represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.
The Boilermakers defense wasn’t quite up to par on Saturday going up against one of the better offenses in the country, but their offense continued to show the ability to put up points in the 51-41 win.
Head coach Danny Hope has high hopes (pun kind of intended) in this offense as he believes there’s still room for his team to grow.
“ I think the best part of our offense is that we haven’t arrived yet,” Hope said. “ I believe we still have a much greater upside.”
With that news, the Big Ten could be in for a wake up call as the Boilermakers enter Big Ten play against Michigan. With all this hype beginning to surround the team, they could make a major statement by knocking off the Wolverines in West Lafayette.
If the Boilermakers do win, look out for the Boilermakers in the polls this coming week as they hope to move to move to 4-1.