Add one more Penn State standout to this season’s Big Ten defensive player of the week list. Senior end Courtney Brown keyed the Lions defense in the team’s 27-7 win at Illinois. Brown registered eight tackles and three sacks for minus-25 yards. In addition, No. 86 broke up one pass and forced a fumble.
The Fighting Illini offense managed only 135 yards with no scoring in the game’s final three quarters.
Penn State linebackers Brandon Short and LaVar Arrington took player of the week honors earlier this season — Short once and Arrington twice.
In spite of the other talents at linebacker, coach Joe Paterno calls Brown his best defensive player.
Trampled under Thomas
Michigan running back Anthony Thomas is Big Ten offensive player of the week after netting a career-high 197 yards on 42 carries. The “A-Train” also scored three touchdowns in the No. 16 Wolverines’ 34-31 win at Indiana.
Thomas ran to his fourth 100-yard game this season.
Michigan also boast 5 the special teams player of the week, kicker Hayden Epstein. The sophomore booted the game-winning field goal with 18 seconds left in the contest.
Epstein handles all the Wolverines’ kicking duties. He kicked two field goals, four extra points, seven kickoffs and six punts.
Whole lotta Heisman
Saturday pits No. 10 Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne against No. 17 Purdue’s Drew Brees, a pairing of the Big Ten’s Heisman frontrunners.
Dayne is closing fast on the NCAA career-rushing record — he needs 321 yards in the next two games to break Ricky Williams’ mark.
Brees is once again riddling opponents’ secondaries with his deft passing. His nation-leading 2,984 passing yards are over 1,100 more than the next quarterback in the Big Ten.
In last season’s 31-24 Wisconsin win, the two stars were impressive. Dayne rushed for 127 yards while Brees passed for 494 yards.
What is and what shouldn’t be
If Penn State continues to hold its No. 2 Bowl Championship Series ranking, or improves to No. 1, the team will play for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl.
Which means the second-place team in the Big Ten — currently Wisconsin — goes to the Rose Bowl, a game traditionally played by the Big Ten champion.
Seems a little strange to send anyone but your conference’s best to the game hailed as the “Granddaddy of them all.”
David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]