Hamner and Riley top Big Ten statistics

David La

A pair of Gophers are atop the Big Ten heap this week in two categories.
Senior running back Thomas Hamner leads the conference with an average of 155.8 total yards per game.
In No. 24 Minnesota’s (5-1 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten) three games against Big Ten competition, Hamner shredded defenses for an average of 200.6 total yards per game. Hamner ran for his third-straight 100-yard game at Illinois on Saturday.
“Thomas Hamner is having a real fine year, his best since I’ve been here,” coach Glen Mason said. “I think what you need to have a good season is to have your seniors play their best football, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
On the defensive side, junior end Karon Riley is disrupting the pocket to the tune of 11.5 sacks — nearly two a game. Riley put Illini quarterback Kurt Kittner on the Memorial Stadium turf twice last weekend.
Chris can’t count catches
After boasting the Big Ten offensive player of the week, Plaxico Burress, last weekend, No. 11 Michigan State inadvertently played a role in giving the award to another receiver this week.
Sixteenth-ranked Purdue’s Chris Daniels found holes in the Spartans secondary big enough to sink a battleship, catching 21 balls for 301 yards — both Big Ten records — and three touchdowns.
The Clearwater, Fla., native now has a conference-best 78 receptions this season. Second-place David Terrell of Michigan is a mere 40 receptions behind.
During the game, the busy Daniels was oblivious to just how sparkling of a day he was having.
“I had no clue, I just knew I had some catches,” Daniels said. “Until the announcer came over the PA and said that I had 18 and tied (teammate) Randall Lane’s record from last year, that was the first time I knew that I was up there.”
Get ’em, Ghidorzi
When No. 17 Wisconsin trounced Indiana 59-0 last weekend, much was said about the Badgers offense and the 705 yards of total offense it rolled up.
But getting a shutout apparently impressed the voters more, as illustrated by linebacker Chris Ghidorzi’s nod for Big Ten defensive player of the week.
Ghidorzi notched a team-leading 10 tackles, including three for a loss, one sack, and one forced fumble.
On the day, the Hoosiers managed 66 yards rushing — 177.7 less than their per-game average.
“They came after us on defense,” Indiana coach Cam Cameron said. “They put nine men on the line of scrimmage and challenged us. We didn’t handle ourselves very well.”
Bowl eligible
With a win over Ohio State, Penn State became the second Big Ten team to be eligible for bowl play, along with Michigan State.
Wins this weekend by Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Purdue could solidify those programs’ bowl slots.
Ohio State needs three more victories (seven total) to be bowl eligible because they played in the Kickoff Classic.

David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]