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Penn State 10: Week 3 power rankings

9/16/2012
Lee Coleman/Icon SMI

Welcome to Week 3 of NittanyNation's power rankings, a top-10 list designed to show which Penn State players are surpassing expectations and which to keep an eye on.

After another week of improvement, Penn State finally seems to be on track. Some new players stepped up, some leaders played solidly, and a few made big leaps on the list.

Whose performance left the biggest impression, and whose contributions were the most surprising? This week's top-10 list:

1. LB Michael Mauti

For the second straight week, Mauti was the best player on the field. He finished with a dozen tackles -- two of which were behind the line of scrimmage -- and one sack. He was all over the field Saturday and is making a strong case to be known as the best linebacker in the Big Ten.

2. WR Allen Robinson

A-Rob accounted for about 59 percent of the passing offense and got Penn State started off on the right foot. With a pair of 45-yard catches in the first quarter, Robinson helped spread the field. He finished with three touchdown catches, the most since Graham Zug did it three years ago, and he's battling with his quarterback for offensive MVP honors.

3. LB Mike Hull

The team's No. 4 backer definitely earned his first appearance on these power rankings. He scooped up a fumble and rumbled 74 yards for a touchdown -- a sure way for Penn State to convert those turnovers into points. He also finished with five tackles and exceeded expectations in this game.

4. LB Gerald Hodges

Three linebackers in the first four spots? You bet. Penn State's known as Linebacker U for a reason, and Saturday exemplified that. Hodges didn't put up big numbers like some of his other teammates, but his forced turnover was the most critical. With Navy threatening at the 11-yard line, hoping to cut the PSU lead to 14-7, Hodges made a leaping interception to halt the drive. PSU then drove downfield for a touchdown of its own. Hodges' play there was arguably the most important of the day.

5. QB Matt McGloin

The fifth-year senior has quietly put together an efficient three weeks. With eight touchdowns and just one interception, McGloin has found success without risking a lot. He wasn't afraid to toss the long ball Saturday and, although one of those balls to Robinson was underthrown, he still had a great first half. He's the leader of this offense, and he makes everyone around him better.

6. DE Deion Barnes

Another game, another sack, another forced fumble. There's no more debate about this: Barnes is Penn State's best pass-rusher. He's the favorite to lead this team in sacks, and defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he's on his way to becoming something really special. Barnes will likely find himself higher on this list at some point.

7. DE Anthony Zettel

Zettel didn't make his first move until Penn State already led 34-7 in the final quarter. But, boy, did he make an impact. On a Navy drive in which there were nine tackles, Zettel had his hand in five. He finished the fourth quarter with two sacks and might have just earned himself more playing time. Zettel's defensive performance maybe deserved a higher spot, but it didn't come at a critical time in the game'.

8. DT Jordan Hill

He didn't come away with impressive numbers, but he did recover a fumble and clog up the middle of the field. The Midshipmen struggled to run on the interior and usually had to bounce to the outside for runs longer than five yards. Hill had a thankless job Saturday, but his performance wasn't forgotten.

9. FB Michael Zordich

The fullback-turned-tailback told Bill O'Brien all week he could run the ball. He lived up to his word. He carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards and was McGloin's No. 2 target. Zordich finished with two catches for 25 yards and wore down the Navy defense.

10. C Matt Stankiewitch

Penn State found more success running up the middle this week -- and Stankiewitch was a big reason for that. Curtis Dukes and Zordich averaged about 4.5 yards a carry, and Stankiewitch was able to anchor the line and help this unit overcome the injury of left tackle Donovan Smith. The line needs to pick up the blitz more, but a lot of that doesn't fall on Stank's shoulders. He played well Saturday.