It's time to recognize the best and the brightest around the Big Ten in Week 7.
Michigan State's secondary: Much maligned a year ago for allowing too many big plays and making too few of their own, the Spartans defensive backs really have stepped up lately. They factored into all four takeaways in a 26-6 win against Illinois, as Marcus Hyde, Trenton Robinson and Johnny Adams all recorded interceptions. Freshman cornerback Darqueze Dennard forced and recovered a fumble in his first start in place of the suspended Chris L. Rucker.
Iowa RB Adam Robinson: He's the only healthy proven running back on a team that lives by a run-first philosophy. Robinson isn't merely holding up under constant pounding, but he's thriving as Iowa's featured back. The sophomore rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, a Herculean performance during 38-28 win in Ann Arbor. Also meriting mentions are quarterback Ricky Stanzi and wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who had three touchdown catches and became Iowa's all-time leading receiver.
Wisconsin's offensive line: Teams simply don't push Ohio State around, and that's exactly what Wisconsin's front five did Saturday night during a 31-18 win at Camp Randall Stadium. They set the tone on the Badgers' first possession, creating huge holes for John Clay on a 6-play, 58-yard drive. Wisconsin racked up 184 rush yards and three touchdowns; Ohio State had allowed three rushing scores all season entering the game. Clay became the first player to eclipse 100 rush yards against the Buckeyes in 29 games. On this night, Wisconsin looked like the best offensive line in the country.
Purdue RB Dan Dierking: Sure, quarterback Rob Henry deserves some love as well after accounting for four touchdowns against Minnesota, but the always-overlooked Dierking was fabulous on Saturday during a 28-17 win over Minnesota. The senior rushed for 126 yards on only 12 carries, breaking free for a 42-yard burst in the first quarter. Purdue is 2-0 in Big Ten play, and the Boilers have found their running back.
Indiana QB Ben Chappell: The senior took a beating in the first half, and then handed out one in the final 30 minutes. Chappell passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns after halftime to help Indiana rally past pesky Arkansas State, 36-34. He finished with 382 pass yards and four touchdowns and once again got plenty of help from receivers Damarlo Belcher (121 receiving yards, 1 TD) and Tandon Doss (103 receiving yards, 1 TD). Given Indiana's continued struggles on defense, arguably no Big Ten player means more to his team than Chappell.