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Penn State 10: Week 8 power rankings

10/21/2012

Welcome to Week 8 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 another convincing win over a conference opponent, Penn State is now just one victory away from the Associated Press' top-25 rankings. 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

The redshirt senior directed a fast-paced offense and again played mistake-free football. In what's no longer a "good" game for McGloin -- it's now become the norm -- he passed for 289 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He needs some help learning how to slide and dive, but it's really difficult to pinpoint a weakness here. At this pace, he's in the discussion as the Big Ten offensive player of the year.

2. DT Jordan Hill

Hill's going to command more attention after his performance Saturday. The defensive tackle looked like his old self by completely shutting down Iowa's running game. He finished with a team-high nine tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack. Mark Weisman and Greg Garmon had no success running between the tackles where Hill lurked. No one played better than him Saturday on defense.

3. LB Michael Mauti

The only time this OLB might miss this list is if he becomes injured. There's never a let-down with Mauti. He again sprinted all over the field Saturday and came away with eight tackles, an interception and a stop in the backfield. He hasn't played a bad game all season, and he continues to impress everyone ... well, except those Lombardi Award voters. Mauti makes everyone around him better; his stats don't nearly reflect his importance to this team.

4. RB Bill Belton

Belton's back. He surpassed 100 yards for the first time in his career and boasted a game-high three touchdowns. His longest run was 23 yards, Penn State's second-longest of the season, and he gave this offense the balance it needed to remain successful. He averaged 6.4 yards a carry Saturday -- about 3 yards more a carry than Iowa usually allows.

5. TE Kyle Carter

When Allen Robinson struggled, Carter was right there to pick up the slack. He caught six balls for 85 yards and made one play destined for the highlight reel. On 4th-and-3, he leaped over an Iowa defender and picked the ball out of the air for 34 yards. He may only be a redshirt freshman, but he's one of the top tight ends in the country. Saturday further proved that.

6. C Matt Stankiewitch

He's become a regular on this list -- but for good reason. The Nittany Lions ran 52 times Saturday and were tackled in the backfield just once. PSU allowed no sacks, one quarterback hurry, and Stankiewitch dominated. He never let a DL get past him, and he's frustarting his opponents right now.

7. G Miles Dieffenbach

You can't mention Stankiewitch without mentioning Dieffenbach's performance. It's usually difficult to differentiate between two offensive guards, but Dieffenbach outplayed his offensive counterpart in John Urschel by leaving his mark on one specific play. Early in the game, Belton ran around the end for 23 yards; Dieffenbach pulled and made a great block to create that run. That was merely the highlight of an overall solid game.

8. TE Jesse James

He's just a true freshman, but he made his presence felt Saturday. His 6-foot-7 height presented quite a few matchup problems for Iowa, as he caught three balls for 52 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown for Penn State's first score. That play was critical, but James' still boasted a well-rounded game. He even added a solo tackle on special teams.

9. LB Gerald Hodges

It wasn't a breakout game for the linebacker, but he was a big reason Penn State's defense was so successful. He played well in pass coverage and was third on the team with four tackles, all of which came in the first three quarters. He was the only linebacker with a pass breakup and yet again played solidly.

10. WR Brandon Moseby-Felder

McGloin targeted the relatively new starter six times, and Moseby-Felder came away with four catches. The redshirt junior helped hammer the final nail in the coffin by opening the second half with a 42-yard pass that led to a touchdown on the very next play. For the first time all season, it's safe to say Moseby-Felder outplayed Robinson.