Three weeks ago, Minnesota's Philip Nelson looked like a guaranteed redshirt candidate. Last week, he became a starting quarterback in the Big Ten. Nelson's new title: Big Ten Player of the Week for Week 9.
There were other good candidates in Week 9 -- Northwestern QB Kain Colter, Michigan State DE William Gholston, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller -- but Nelson gets the nod after a dazzling performance in his home debut at TCF Bank Stadium against Purdue. The Minnesota high school standout hardly looked like a true freshman against the Boilers, displaying tremendous poise from the get-go. He led four scoring drives in the first 20 minutes for a Minnesota team that had scored just 13 points in each of its first three games. Nelson connected on 13 of his first 14 pass attempts -- including a stretch of 12 consecutive completions -- and three touchdown passes in helping Minnesota build a commanding lead.
After some poor decisions the previous week at Wisconsin, Nelson played virtually flawless football against Purdue, finishing with 246 pass yards, three touchdown strikes and no interceptions. He spread the ball to six different receivers, finding A.J. Barker five times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota has its quarterback of the future, and took a big step toward bowl eligibility on Saturday. It'll be interesting to see how Nelson performs against an elite defense in Michigan as Minnesota tries to claim the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 2005.