By Quinne Lowe @sports_qa on September 1, 2014
The Big Ten went into the 2014 season with a lot of the national media wondering if any team in the conference is worthy of a spot in the inaugural college football playoff. While it's still too early to know if that's true, the following five players stood out in Week 1.
Wisconsin came into the 2014 season as the favorite to win the West division despite this being Tanner McEvoy's first season starting. But after only passing for 50 yards on nine completions and throwing two costly interceptions late, McEvoy will have to regroup quickly if he doesn't want to be replaced by backup Joel Stave.
J.T. Barrett did a great job managing the Buckeyes' offense and was very efficient, completing 12-of-15 passes. Head coach Urban Meyer relied heavily on the run game (40 attempts), which allowed the redshirt freshman to ease into the game. He may want to take the pirouette pass out of his repertoire as it led to an interception, but it was a good debut for Barrett overall.
Derrick Green came to Michigan with a lot of hype, but had a disappointing freshman campaign. After re-dedicating himself in the weight room, he earned the start against Appalachian State and did not disappoint. After a couple of missed running lanes, he got things going and finished the game with 170 yards on 15 carries. If he and the Wolverines' rush offense can stay this consistent, they could be a surprise contender in the conference.
Despite sitting out the fourth quarter and most of the third, Ameer Abdullah showed Nebraska fans that the nation's leading returning rusher had not lost a step. He is a dark horse Heisman candidate, and with other teams within the division showing weaknesses this weekend, the Cornhuskers could run their way into the Big Ten Championship game if this efficiency continues for Abdullah.
Christian Hackenberg passed for 454 yards against UCF, but it was the last drive to set up the winning field goal that showed how much of a big-time college quarterback he is. He completed 4-of-6 passes and had a key eight-yard run to put the Nittany Lions in position to steal the victory in Dublin, Ireland. His moxy in the pocket will keep Penn State in a lot of games this season as they get acclimated to having six new offensive starters.
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