Penn State 10: Week 6 power rankings

Zach Zwinak, once buried on the bench, looks like PSU's best running back now. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Welcome to Week 6 of NittanyNation's power rankings, a top-10 list of Penn State players who are surpassing expectations, and who to keep an eye on.

After its first victory this year over a ranked opponent, Penn State is now in the debate for the Leaders Division title. 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:

1. QB Matt McGloin

After a mediocre first half, McGloin put the team on his shoulders and carried it to a come-from-behind victory. He picked apart the defense with a no-huddle offense, found 10 different receivers and kept it conservative. He finished 35-of-51 for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He converted two critical fourth downs late in the game and sprinted for a 5-yard touchdown on third down. McGloin may not have won the game single-handedly, but Penn State wouldn't have won without him.

2. LB Gerald Hodges

Hodges may no longer be the top 'backer on the team, but it didn't look as if that was the case Saturday. He came away with a team-high 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. Hodges smothered ball-carriers, but his performance was far from one-dimensional. He often dropped back into coverage and played well there, too. He nearly added another interception to his stats and was the best player on the defense.

3. RB Zach Zwinak

Previously the team's last option at tailback, Zwinak now looks like the best running back on the team. For the third straight game, he was the team's leading rusher -- and he only seems to improve from one week to the next. Against one of the nation's top run defenses in Northwestern, Zwinak ran 28 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. The bruising back was also a threat in the passing game; he finished second on the team with six catches for 52 yards. He chipped away at the defense's stamina, and the result was a Penn State win.

4. DT Jordan Hill

The senior lineman said Northwestern didn't double-team him as much as other teams. Clearly, that was a mistake. Hill recorded eight stops -- third-most on the team -- and finished with one tackle-for-loss and a half-sack. He disrupted the middle of the line and was a big reason why the Wildcats couldn't get their run game going.

5. WR Allen Robinson

He disappeared in the first half but rebounded with a vengeance. He was McGloin's go-to target near the red zone, and he came away with nine catches for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Robinson's route-running has been top-notch this season, and his ability to separate from defenders on slants Saturday made his quarterback's job a whole lot easier. Robinson has quickly become one of the top names in the country at wide receiver, and he might have a few more awards committees talking in the near future.

6. LB Michael Mauti

No, he didn't return an interception 99 yards. And, no, he actually didn't have a hand in a turnover this game. But Mauti still made his presence felt with nine tackles. And he still displayed a motor that was built without an off switch. He made plays on the opposite sideline and could never be counted out. He might be the top linebacker in the nation.

7. C Matt Stankiewich

He's known as the anchor on this line for a reason. Zwinak ran up the middle more often than not, and Stankiewitch made sure he had a hole to run through. Stankiewitch displayed a good blend of strength and athleticism and helped Penn State to one of its best rush games of the season. The Lions finished with 161 yards on the ground.

8. LB Mike Hull

For a backup, he's certainly made a lot of appearances on this Penn State 10. Despite playing situationally, he finished with as many tackles (5) as starting middle linebacker Glenn Carson. He gets a nod on this list because he again came through with one of the biggest defensive plays of the game. On 4th-and-2, as the Wildcats tried to continue their bid at a comeback, Hull broke up a pass over the middle, and the sideline exploded. Even if that was the only play Hull was on the field for, he deserves a spot on this list for that single effort alone.

9. OG John Urschel/OG Miles Dieffenbach

OK, OK, we're kind of cheating here with this combination. But how can one possibly pick one guard over another? Both played very well Saturday and opened a lot of holes for Zwinak. Northwestern's top two defensive tackles made just one tackle in the backfield -- and that came when McGloin held onto the ball too long. Zwinak carried the ball 28 times and was tackled behind the line just once -- and that was for a 1-yard loss. Urschel and Dieffenbach helped this running game off the ground and, for that, they both deserve some recognition.

10. WR Brandon Moseby-Felder

Shawney Kersey's replacement had five catches for 34 yards. Those numbers don't exactly jump off the stat page, and he did also have one drop. But Moseby-Felder deserves a nod for his critical 4th-and-2 catch on Penn State's game-winning drive. He showed good hands by hauling in a 13-yard grab and set up McGloin's 5-yard touchdown scamper. Moseby-Felder wasn't always the best player on the field Saturday, but he came through when his team needed him most.