Another week, another Player of the Week award? I like this trend. So who was Iowa's honoree this time out? Take a wild guess.
Turns out that when you rush for 256 yards (on a school-record 43 carries), score two touchdowns, and lead your team to a victory, you have a pretty good shot of being named Offensive Player of the Week! What a crazy idea.
From any angle you want to look at it, Canzeri put the rest of the team on his back and carried them to a victory on Saturday (with an assist from the Iowa offensive line, which was absolutely bulldozing in run blocking in the second half of that game). Canzeri ran the ball 23 times for 180 yards and one spectacular touchdown in the second half. The rest of the Iowa offense gained 6 yards on 7 plays in the second half. When Illinois' up-tempo offensive attack was getting Illinois back into the game and setting up a potential upset, it was Canzeri who helped shut the door on them. His 75-yard touchdown run gave Iowa much-needed breathing room late in the third quarter and his indefatigable efforts in the fourth quarter helped Iowa play keepaway from the Illinois offense (Iowa possessed the ball for 11:52 in the fourth quarter), never more impressively than on The Jordan Canzeri drive, where he ran the ball a stunning 11 straight times. The only way that drive could have been better is if it had ended in a touchdown (preferably scored by Canzeri after his efforts getting Iowa near the end zone), but it was still a tremendous drive.
Saturday's performance capped off what has been a sensational start to the season for Canzeri. Through six games he has 697 yards, 3rd most in the Big Ten and 12th most nationally. He isn't doing it purely by volume, either, although his 132 carries are the 2nd most in the Big Ten (behind Northwestern RB Justin Jackson's 150 carries). Canzeri is averaging 5.28 yards per carry, 3rd most among Big Ten running backs with at least 100 carries (behind Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott's 6.90 ypc and Indiana RB Jordan Howard's 5.67 ypc). And, of course, Canzeri is finding the end zone with regularity -- his 9 rushing touchdowns are the 2nd most in the Big Ten (behind Elliott's 10) and tied for 11th most nationally.
Iowa hasn't had a 1000-yard rusher since Marcus Coker rumbled for 1384 yards in 2011 (though Mark Weisman came tantalizingly close to that total in 2013; he finished with 974 yards on the ground). Canzeri is bearing down on that number and if he's able to stay healthy (/knocks on every piece of wood in a 50-mile radius), he should be able to end Iowa's drought of 1000-yard rushers this year. He's having a truly special senior season so far, better than any of us expected. Let's hope the second half of the season is as memorable and wonderful as the first half has been. Why not enjoy a few more highlights from Saturday's game?
Canzeri becomes the fourth Iowa player to earn Player of the Week honors (more than any other team in the Big Ten, at least among the primary Offensive/Defensive/Special Team Player of the Week awards), after C.J. Beathard earned Offensive Player of the Week honors earlier in the season and Marshall Koehn was named Special Teams Player of the Week after the Pitt victory. Desmond King, of course, was named Defensive Player of the Week just last week after his two-interception heroics against Wisconsin.
The only Big Ten Player of the Week honor Iowa hasn't earned yet is Freshman of the Week. I actually thought Jerminic Smith might have a decent claim to that award this week after his breakout performance: 4 receptions for 118 yards (oh, that he could have made it 5 for 119 with a touchdown). Alas, there were some other standout freshmen this week (Minnesota RB Shannon Brooks ran for 176 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Michigan S Jabrill Peppers had 5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 3 pass break-ups) and the Big Ten does like to share the wealth when it comes to the weekly honors.
Kudos to you on a well-deserved honor, Jordan.