Now that every team in the Big Ten has officially played against a conference opponent, the landscape in both the Legends and Leaders division is beginning to take shape. We no longer have to listen to who the prognosticators believe are the strongest and weakest teams in the conference because we can see, with our eyes, exactly who looks legitimate and who looks phony. In addition to that, we saw this past weekend exactly who the elite players in the Big Ten were… Helmet stickers go to:
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – Everyone’s favorite version of Denard Robinson was on display in West Lafayette at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, as Shoelace scampered for 235 yards on 24 carries against Purdue. The Boilermakers were expected to be the last bastion of hope for the Big Ten this season, but the Wolverines were able to mop the floor with Purdue’s defense, and Robinson was only asked to make 16 throws.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State – Bell rebounded quite well against Indiana Saturday after he put in a lousy performance against Ohio state at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 29. For the third time this season, Bell eclipsed the 120-yard rushing plateau, as he carried the rock 37 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. We would like to see Bell put in this kind of performance against a more admirable foe because two of his worst performances this season have been against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – There is no question that Miller is the best player in the Big Ten. Miller accounted for 127 passing yards, 186 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Ohio State’s 63-38 drubbing of Nebraska on Saturday. Because Miller is a such a duel-threat, opposing teams put a majority of its resources on him in an attempt to slow him down, but that just creates opportunities for Miller’s teammates. Ohio State earned 498 total yards of offense, and Carlos Hyde was able to gain 140 yards and score four touchdowns thanks to Miller’s playmaking abilities.
Raymon Taylor, CB, Michigan – The sophomore from Detroit was merely a body in the background when the season started, coming off of the bench when needed in a reserve role. However, after Taylor nabbed an interception against Notre Dame two weeks ago, Michigan moved him ahead of Courtney Avery on the depth chart and he garnered the starting job against Purdue on Saturday. In his first start, Taylor recorded three solo tackles and one interception, which he returned 63 yards for a touchdown. Taylor made a great read on Caleb TerBush’s pass and stepped in front of the receiver—this pick was no freebie.
Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State – Burbridge, who is just a freshman, was moved to the top of Michigan State’s depth chart last week and he, similar to Michigan’s Taylor, made the best out of his first starting opportunity. He reeled in eight catches for 134 yards and instilled a sign of life into Michigan State’s passing attack, not to mention his pass catching ability made quarterback Andrew Maxwell appear more confident behind center.