Sophomore running back Akrum Wadley entered last week’s game against Northwestern with eight carries for 35 yards. In other words, an unlikely candidate for Big Ten offensive player of the week.
Twenty-six carries for 204 yards and four touchdowns against the Wildcats later, Wadley became the fifth Iowa player to be honored by the conference this season. Wadley was replacing Jordan Canzeri, who was knocked out of the game with a first-quarter ankle injury.
“Akrum came in and did a great job,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “He’s representative of how we’re getting it done right now. A lot of guys are pitching in where we needed help. I can’t say enough about the effort and resiliency of our players.”
Canzeri, who rushed for 256 yards against Illinois on a school-record 43 carries the week before, and Wadley are the first backs in Iowa history to pass the 200-yard plateau in consecutive games. It’s also the first time an FBS school has had two different backs eclipse the 200-yard mark in sequential games since 1996.
Canzeri was named Big Ten offensive player of the week after his game against Illinois. And quarterback C.J. Beathard was honored after the Iowa State game, when he passed for 215 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards.
The three offensive winners are the most for the Hawkeye program since the 2002 season, when quarterback Brad Banks won the award three times and tight end Dallas Clark received it once.
Also this season, Marshall Koehn was the Big Ten’s special teams player of the week after kicking a 57-yard field goal to beat Pittsburgh. And cornerback Desmond King shared co-defensive player of the week honors after his two-interception game at Wisconsin. King leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally with six interceptions this season.
King has been a key piece of an Iowa defense that is one of six Big Ten teams to rank in the top 20 nationally in total defense. Michigan is second, Wisconsin seventh, the Hawkeyes 12th, Penn State 16th, Northwestern 18th and Ohio State 19th.
“For whatever reason, we seen to have more schools that value that,” Ferentz said. “There are other parts of the country where scoring takes premium.”
Like the Big 12. Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU are the nation’s top three teams in total offense, and Oklahoma and West Virginia also rank in the top 20. Indiana is the Big Ten’s highest-ranked team in total offense at 23rd. Conversely, Oklahoma is the Big 12’s highest-ranked team in total defense at 23rd.
“Being in this league for some time, historically you’ve seen a lot of good defensive play,” Ferentz said.