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Penn State 10: Week 10 power rankings

11/4/2012

Welcome to Week 10 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 a win on the road at Purdue, several offensive contributors returned to the list. Some new players also stepped up, 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. LB Gerald Hodges

Hodges helped Penn State overcome a slow start by appearing in three places at once in the first half. By halftime, the senior already racked up eight tackles and three stops in the backfield. He was relatively quiet in the second half, when Penn State controlled the clock and Purdue was forced to go to the air. Hodges outplayed another certain PSU 'backer, and that doesn't happen too often. He was the difference-maker in this first half and in this game.

2. WR Brandon Moseby-Felder

It was a career day for Moseby-Felder and came at a critical time with the injury to tight end Kyle Carter. Moseby-Felder was actually targeted more often than Allen Robinson and came away with six catches for 129 yards and a score. He showed good hands Saturday and might just have emerged as Penn State's No. 2 wideout.

3. QB Matt McGloin

He started out slow but finished strong. Once he was able to get more time in the pocket and settle into a rhythm, he tore the Boilermakers' secondary apart. He made a few early mistakes, nearly throwing an interception, but still came away with two touchdown passes to no interceptions. He threw for 321 yards Saturday to become the first Penn State quarterback to pass for 300 yards five times.

4. RB Zach Zwinak

Who needs Bill Belton? Zwinak was the bell-cow Saturday and finished with 134 yards on 21 carries. He didn't stumble backward once, and no Purdue defender could bring him down behind the line of scrimmage. Purdue has a physical defensive line, but Zwinak was able to wear it down and balance this offense.

5. LB Mike Hull

He's really become a backup in name only. He tied for second on the team with six tackles and also broke up a pass. Whenever Penn State needed an extra defensive back, it basically just plugged Hull in -- and he's been incredibly strong against the pass. When the Boilermakers tried to focus on short passes, Hull made sure they had to switch their plans up.

6. LB Michael Mauti

On the stat sheet it wasn't Mauti's most impressive game, but he still played solidly. Purdue targeted a lot of PSU's cornerbacks and safeties in the second half and took some plays out of Mauti's hands. Still, Mauti tied for fourth on the team with five tackles and helped hold Purdue to just 3.3 yards per carry.

7. TE Jesse James

Without Carter, James stepped up and played more than usual. The 6-foot-7 tight end took advantage by bringing down three passes, flashing some speed and finishing with 49 yards and a touchdown that put the game out of reach. James, a freshman, showed that this group of tight ends has a very bright future.

8. DE Sean Stanley

He's battled back problems all year, but he seems to have settled into his role the last two weeks. Stanley came away with 1.5 tackles for loss and a critical sack Saturday. With Purdue driving late in the first half, Stanley walloped Purdue quarterback Robert Marve on third down and knocked the ball loose. That play punctuated the defense's first-half performance and gave Penn State all the momentum heading into the third quarter.

9. C Matt Stankiewitch

Purdue defensive tackles Bruce Gaston and Kawann Short finished with no tackles in the backfield. Although Penn State usually ran outside of the guards instead of between them, Stankiewitch helped ensure PSU's running game would be successful by sticking to his blocks. The entire line should be applauded here, but Stankiewitch was the best.

10. RB Derek Day

No, he didn't have a single carry. And, no, he didn't grab a reception, either. But he was all over the field on special teams and deserves to be recognized as a result. He finished with four tackles -- just as many as starting MLB Glenn Carson -- by simply playing on the kickoff coverage team. Sam Ficken kicked off just seven times Saturday, and Day tackled the returner on four of those plays. That doesn't happen often, and Day continues to play hard despite his offensive demotion.