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Michigan State's Connor Cook has been named one of eight "Stars of the Week" by the Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Cook set a career-high with 293 passing yards, completing 16-of-23 passes with two touchdowns against Northwestern to lead the Spartans to a berth in the Big Ten Football Championship Game and an outright Legends Division title.
College football fans can now go to the Allstate Sugar Bowl Facebook page to vote for what they think was the best performance from this past weekend. When voting closes on Thursday at 11 a.m. (Central), the top vote-getter will be announced as the Manning Award Player of the Week. Click this link to vote for the top quarterback performance from last week.
Three Big Ten programs are ranked among the top 15 in the latest Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings. Ohio State set a school record with its 23rd straight victory and improved to 11-0 to hold steady at No. 3 in the BCS poll, the Buckeyes' highest placement since ending the 2007 campaign at No. 1 overall. Michigan State picked up its 10th win and rose two spots to No. 11 in the BCS poll, the Spartans' highest ranking since being slotted at No. 11 on Oct. 23, 2011. Wisconsin earned its ninth victory and climbed four slots to No. 15 in the BCS standings, the Badgers' first top-15 rating since ending the 2011 season at No. 10 overall.
Rushing: Eight Big Ten rushers recorded 100 or more yards on the ground, led by Michigan State's Jeremy Langford with 150 yards and two touchdowns in a victory at Northwestern. Other Big Ten 100-yard rushers were Penn State's Zach Zwinak (149 yards), Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (147 yards), the Ohio State duo of Braxton Miller (144 yards, 2 TDs) and Carlos Hyde (117 yards, 2 TDs), Wisconsin's James White (125 yards, 1 TD), Illinois' Josh Ferguson (115 yards) and Purdue's Akeem Hunt (102 yards, 1 TD).
Passing: Six Big Ten signal callers threw for more than 200 yards, led by the Spartans' Connor Cook with 293 yards and two scoring strikes against the Wildcats. Other Big Ten 200-yard passers were Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase (257 yards, 2 TDs), Iowa's Jake Rudock (239 yards, 2 TDs), Northwestern's Trevor Siemian (227 yards), Indiana's Nate Sudfeld (224 yards, 2 TDs) and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg (217 yards, 2 TDs)
Receiving: Four Big Ten players caught eight or more passes or totaled 100 or more receiving yards, led by Illinois' Steve Hull with 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns at Purdue. Indiana's Kofi Hughes hauled in nine passes for 120 yards. Two Big Ten wideouts posted eight catches - Penn State's Allen Robinson for 106 yards and the Hoosiers' Shane Wynn for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Tackles: Eight conference standouts finished with 10 or more tackles, led by Ohio State's Ryan Shazier with 20 tackles against Indiana. Wisconsin's Chris Borland collected 12 tackles while Northwestern's Jimmy Hall posted 11 defensive stops. Five Big Ten defenders registered 10 tackles - Minnesota's Antonio Johnson, the Wildcat duo of Chi Chi Ariguzo and Ibraheim Campbell, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Penn State's Glenn Carson.
Tackles for Loss: Twelve Big Ten defenders recorded 2.0 or more tackles for loss (TFLs), led by Ohio State's Ryan Shazier with 5.0 TFLs, including one sack. Fellow-Buckeye Michael Bennett (2 sacks), Iowa's Anthony Hitchens and Wisconsin's Brendan Kelly (2 sacks) each registered 3.0 TFLs, while Iowa's Carl Davis (0.5 sacks) and Michigan's Frank Clark posted 2.5 TFLs each.
Michigan State senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented annually to the nation's top defensive player. Dennard becomes the first Spartan in school history to be selected as a finalist for the award. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Dennard previously was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation's best defensive back. He leads the Spartans in passes defended (10), pass break-ups (7) and interceptions (3). He ranks fifth on the team in tackles (38) and production points (149). Dennard has been credited with two tackles for losses (4 yards) and is tied for seventh in the Big Ten in passes defended (1.0 per game). Big Ten players have claimed the Nagurski Trophy on five occasions, including two-time honoree Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern.
The University of Minnesota football coaching staff is the weekly nominee for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
On Oct. 10, it was announced that assistant Tracy Claeys, the team's defensive coordinator, would serve as the acting head coach while head coach Jerry Kill received treatment for his epilepsy. Minnesota is 4-1 with Claeys as acting head coach, entering a home game against Wisconsin on Saturday. Kill, 52, has had history of health issues and has suffered several seizures since becoming the Gophers' head coach in 2011. Nevertheless, this season the Golden Gophers are 8-2 and headed to a bowl game. They have also won four straight Big Ten games for the first time in 40 years. Part of the reason for the success is cohesion on the staff of nine assistants and a strength and conditioning coordinator. The staff has 124 years working together under Kill over the years -- the most in the country. Claeys has spent 19 seasons with Kill.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN's senior columnist Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award include Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011) and Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010).