Conference Review: BIG 10

Russell Clay

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With college football in full swing, we’ll be bringing you a review of the “Big Five” conferences each and every week. These recaps will feature sections for “Premier Conference Performer,” “Rising Players,” “Falling Players,” and a special Freshman spotlight. These weekly reviews will keep you up-to-date on all the happenings in devy leagues and allow you to keep tabs on future dynasty league assets. By the time the NFL Draft rolls around, you won’t see too many strangers.

Premier Conference Performers

Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska

35 carries for 229 yards and three touchdowns

Ameer Abdullah and Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong are the best running back/quarterback combination in the conference and they showed exactly why on Saturday. Combining for 322 of Nebraska’s 348 rushing yards, the duo led the charge over heated rival Miami, 41-31. Abdullah has surprising and subtle power for a smaller back. He will, without a doubt, find a fantasy relevant role at the next level.

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Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin

13 carries for 253 yards and five touchdowns

When we left off, Melvin Gordon was in ‘falling’ category after a rough week against a low level opponent. My premonitions that his numbers would decline and he would get picked apart were coming true. And then, well, 19.5 yards per rush. Gordon is not only the best back in the conference, but one of the best in the country. The best college yards per carry of all-time over a career goes to Chuck Weatherspoon with 8.22, second is Felix Jones at 7.66. After last week’s game,  Gordon sits at 8.26. His vision and ability to make quick decisions is his greatest asset and it was on full display against Bowling Green.


Tevin Coleman, RB Indiana

19 carries for 132 yards and one touchdown, three catches for 57 yards

Tevin Coleman has arrived. While he’s been the same guy all season, he should finally get some media coverage after leading the Hoosiers to a borderline historic victory over Missouri. Whenever Indiana needed a big play Coleman delivered. For the first time in a while, I’m not coming up with much of anything for a player comparison, I’m not sure I’ve seen a player like Coleman before. Not that he’s a superstar, but he has a very unique build/style/speed/power combination. He might not be the most elusive, even a little stiff at times, but his straight line speed and power cover up anything he potentially lacks. He also looks very comfortable receiving the ball out of the backfield, another important quality that NFL teams look for.


Christian Hackenberg, QB Penn State

12 for 23 for 179 yards

It’s not about the stats for Christian Hackenberg, if he really wanted to put up video game numbers against UMass this weekend, he would’ve. The raw numbers aren’t what concern me, it’s how many mistakes he makes. I watched him a few times last year so maybe I was looking through a broad scope rather than paying attention to finite details. He makes some beautiful plays, gorgeous. He also makes some passes straight into the defenders’ hands. A lot goes into being a quarterback in the NFL and making three or four major mistakes a game would be something that will lead to a short career. I have plenty of faith he’ll turn things around and begin to play better, but I’m tempering enthusiasm until I start seeing less mistakes.

Paul James, RB Rutgers

Torn ACL

What a sad site to see. Paul James was right there with Tevin Coleman heading into this week for third best back in the conference, now his season is over, unfortunately. This is not the first run in with injuries for James, so while he’s shown plenty of talent to start the year, it’s going to be tough to convince a team to take a chance on him come draft time.

Players To Keep An Eye On

Akeel Lynch, RB Penn State

Eight carries for 81 yards and one touchdown

Akeel Lynch is clearly the best running back on the Penn State roster. His size/power/athleticism is unmatched and if they want explosive plays they need to give him a bigger role in the offense. Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak have been totally and completely ineffective so far this season, it’s time for a change. I understand the loyalty factor, so you may not see Lynch in a more prominent role until 2015.

Delton Williams, RB Michigan St.

Ten carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns

As with Lynch, Delton Williams time will most likely be delayed until 2015, but there’s certainly a lot to like from his ten carry performance over the weekend. I hadn’t heard a ton about Williams until this game, so I’m not about to crown him like I am Lynch. The good news is he’s only a sophomore and Jeremy Langford (Michigan St’s leading rusher) is gone after this year. If Delton can seize the backup role and parlay that into a starting job next year, there could be some fireworks.