While Alabama running back Derrick Henry was busy making room on his mantle for a plethora of awards Thursday night, including two player of the year awards (Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will be making room for a Big Ten honor. Elliott was named this year’s winner of the Silver Football, presented to the Big Ten’s best player by The Chicago Tribune.
The vote for the award is determined by ballots submitted by each head coach of a Big Ten football program. This year’s vote included 13 ballots, as Kyle Flood did not submit a vote after being fired by Rutgers. Elliott received eight first-place votes from the Big Ten coaches. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook received three first-place votes and four second-place votes to finish in second place. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard received a pair of first-place votes and finished in third.
Other players receiving votes for the Silver Football included Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib, Iowa defensive back Desmond King, Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock and Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.
The Chicago Tribune has handed out a Silver Football every season since 1924. Elliott is the 18th player from Ohio State to win the award, which breaks a tie with Michigan for the most all-time Silver Football winners. Iowa is the only other program to have double-digit winners (10). Elliott is the second Ohio State player to win the award in the last four years, joining two-time Silver Football winner Braxton Miller (2012, 2013).
We do not yet know which bowl game Michigan will be playing in this bowl season, but the outlooks appears promising for quarterback Jake Rudock and his chances to play in the postseason game.
Rudock was knocked out of Michigan’s weekend loss to rival Ohio State after being on the wrong end of a Joey Bosa takedown. The play ended up spraining an AC joint in Rudock’s non-throwing shoulder, according to a report by Dan Murphy for ESPN.com. Murphy reports Rudock is expected to still be healthy enough to play for the Wolverines by the time a bowl game comes around.
Rudock has been a steady addition to Michigan’s offense under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Iowa transfer came to Ann Arbor and won the starting job and has been a rock for the offense. In 12 games, Rudock completed 64 percent of his pass attempts for 2,739 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Michigan should be playing in a New Years bowl game in the Big Ten line-up. Which bowl game may have to be sorted after figuring out which Big Ten team (or teams) will be participating in the College Football Playoff and Rose Bowl. The winner of this weekend’s Big Ten Championship Game between Iowa (Rudock’s previous school) and Michigan State will be very likely to be in the four-team playoff. The loser will likely head to the Rose Bowl to represent the Big Ten. Ohio State’s possibility of sneaking into the playoff appears to be quite a long shot that would require both Clemson and Alabama to lose this weekend in their respective conference championship game, but the scenario is still on the table. After those three are sorted, Michigan will be one of the top Big Ten bowl participants.
Year one of the Jim Harbaugh Era in Ann arbor will see Michigan playing for the Big Ten East Division next week in Michigan Stadium. That is the situation after No. 12 Michigan (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) took to the road and left Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) with a 28-16 win.
On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, Penn State elected to kick a field goal while down 21-13 with roughly eight minutes to play. Michigan made them pay for that decision. After the short field goal was blocked but still managed to sneak in for three points, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Penn State 4-0-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jehu Chesson swung to the left side of the field and ran down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to put the Wolverines in the red zone in the blink of an eye. De'Veon Smith capped the drive with a short touchdown run by leaping and extending the ball over a pile for a decisive touchdown. Penn State went four-and-out on their next, and final, possession and Michigan ran the clock out for the final three minutes and change because Penn State used its final timeout with over five minutes to play in the game.
It was a long afternoon for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed just 13 of his 31 pass attempts and was roughed up from start to finish, especially in the second half. Penn State converted just three of 14 third-down situations (Michigan converted seven of 14) and the offense ended with just 207 yards of offense. Freshman running back Saquon Barkley had 68 rushing yards, but 56 came on a long run on the game’s opening drive. Too many times Penn State went for a big pass and hoped to come down with the football, and Michigan would have taken that strategy all day long. Michigan was rarely burned by a big play.
Michigan’s quarterback, Jake Rudock, was much more efficient and effective, completing 25 of 38 pass attempts for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan also had to overcome discipline issues as well. Michigan was flagged for 13 penalties amounting for 117 yards. Michigan also had two turnovers in the game.
Michigan remains in position to win the Big Ten East Division, but it still needs to beat Ohio State next week and hope Michigan State takes a loss thanks to an earlier head-to-head going the way of the Spartans earlier this season. Ohio State hosts Michigan State today, and Michigan State will host Penn State next week. Odds are Michigan fans will actually be pulling for the Buckeyes here, which has to feel a bit weird.
A blocked punt for Michigan gave Penn State’s lifeless offense a glimmer of hope, but Penn State’s inability to stop the opposition from answering allowed Michigan to take a 14-10 lead into the half in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions cashed in on the special teams gaffe by the Wolverines when Christain Hackenberg lofted a deep pass to Saeed Blacknall for a 25-yard rainbow touchdown and a 10-7 lead. But Michigan got a good kick return from Jourdan Lewis to take over at their 30-yard line with three timeouts left and 2:01 to play. A third-and-10 conversion with a great catch from Amara Darboh moved the football 26 yards into Penn State territory. Missed tackles were key for Penn State as Michigan used smart, short plays to pick up extra yardage as well as De’Veon Smith picked up 11 yards on one play when he could have been stopped for a minimal gain. Jake Rudock connected with Darboh again for an 11-yard go-ahead touchdown.
Penn State’s game-opening drive reached the red zone quickly thanks to a 56-yard run by Saquon Barkley, but Michigan tightened up and held the Nittany Lions to a field goal for the game’s first points.
Michigan answered using some good pass protection for Jake Rudock to move down the field using the middle fo the field to their advantage. Jehu Chesson caught a couple of big gains on third down situations to keep Michigan’s opening drive alive, and Rudock found an open Jake Butt down near the goal line and the tight end took the extra steps needed before falling into the end zone for a 7-3 lead.
After Penn State scuffled on their next drive, it was the defense that made some plays to try and turn the field of possession. A big sack by Torrence Brown (in for Carl Nassib) put the Wolverines in a 3rd and 17, and Blake Bell picked off the next pass from Rudock.
It took about 84 minutes, but Michigan finally took its first lead in a football game coached by Jim Harbaugh with just over four minutes until reaching halftime against Oregon State in Ann Arbor. De’Veon Smith‘s short touchdown run gave Michigan a 10-7 lead. Now we need to see if the Wolverines can pick up the first win under their new head coach. Michigan leads 17-7 at the half thanks to some poor special teams play from the visiting Oregon State Beavers.
The turning point fo the game may have come on a bizarre sequence late in the first half. Oregon State looked to have pinned the Wolverines back at their two-yard line late in the half, but a penalty called on Oregon State forced to punt once more. This time though the snap sailed over the head of Nick Porebski, and the ball was recovered by Michigan at the Oregon State three-yard line. A couple of plays later Smith pushed forward for his second touchdown of the half as Michigan took a 17-7 lead.
Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock has been dependable for the Wolverines offense, though big plays have not been the formula for the most part. Rudock has completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 91 yards, and he has been taken down behind the line of scrimmage. Smith has led the way on the ground with 73 rushing yards so far.
Late in the half we got our first real glimpse of Harbaugh’s rage factor when Michigan was called for a roughing the punter penalty (the punter was outside the tackle box). Harbaugh was none too pleased with the call on the field by the officials. There will be more of this in the future for Wolverine fans.
Oregon State took an early lead on the Wolverines just minutes into the game. Seth Collins completed a pass to Hunter Jarmon for a 21-yard touchdown play for the early lead.