The future of the Big Ten is looking bigger and brighter as four Pac-12 teams are about to join the conference in 2024. However, as the focus shifts to the current Big Ten teams this fall, some Big Ten players will be needed to step up and perform over expectations this fall. These underrated Big Ten players should do just that.
Top Five Under the Radar Big Ten Players
All five of the Big Ten players chosen on this list are players who have shown flashes of greatness, but up to this point, not on a consistent basis. There are some who are in new places, and some who have been there, but now it has come to step up and perform well in 2023.
Hudson Card, QB, Purdue
The Texas Longhorn transfer quarterback, Hudson Card, has found a new home with the Purdue team, which is in transition with a new coaching staff.
Card had a strong start to his college career, playing three seasons with the Longhorns in the Big 12. Last season, he started three games, completing 69.4% of his passes for 928 yards, with six touchdowns and just one interception.
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He finished his career at Texas with 1,523 yards, 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions.
The new offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell, couldn’t have asked for a better quarterback to run his Air Raid offense, as Card fits the profile. He has a strong arm, with the strength of his game being his ability to handle play-action/RPO passes.
Card can move around in the pocket if pressure comes, but he will find the open receiver with his pinpoint accuracy.
The reason some may not be talking about Card as much as they should is because the new coaching staff means changes come with the team. Despite the loss of receiver Charlie Jones, Purdue has all their other receivers, plus some additions from the transfer portal to help, and four starters returning on the offensive line.
He is set up for success to put up big numbers, but the Big Ten is deep, so it’s a matter of how stiff the competition will be in the West Division to really see Card’s ceiling.
Bryce Gallagher, LB, Northwestern
Northwestern is a hot mess right now, with former head coach Pat Fitzgerald no longer with the school after hazing allegations were made. Now, the program looks to recover from it, and they will need their top defensive player, linebacker Bryce Gallagher, to step up in a leadership role.
In 2022, Gallagher led the team in tackles with 100, which was also ranked fourth in the Big Ten. He also added five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in 11 starts.
Going into the 2023 season, Gallagher was named Second-Team All-Big Ten in our preseason selections.
Gallagher is a tackling machine who rarely misses a ball carrier that he brings down. It’s quite surprising that he isn’t on more publications’ preseason selections as he is the heartbeat of this Wildcats’ defense.
With concerns about the defensive line, the team will lean more on Gallagher to make big plays for them and keep things in place with so much transition in place.
Landon Tengwall, OG, Penn State
There are high expectations for Penn State as they are in the conversation for a potential national title. They will, as always, rely on their offensive line to help new quarterback Drew Allar and lead one of the top backfields in college football.
One player who doesn’t get much recognition on the offensive line is offensive guard Landon Tengwall.
Tengwall started five games at left guard for Penn State at the beginning of the season, with only one of his starts resulting in Penn State gaining under 400 yards of total offense. Penn State’s coaching staff named him the offensive player of the game after their matchup against Auburn.
Tengwall would miss the rest of the 2022 season with an injury and Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Hunter Nourzad got all the attention on the offensive line.
He is the youngest on the projected offensive line, as Tengwall is entering his sophomore season but he has the potential to lead the left side of the line. His run-blocking prowess is known, and Tengwall should be the next in line of great Penn State offensive linemen.
Anthony Grant, RB, Nebraska
New head coach Matt Rhule makes his triumphant return to college football, and he has a lot of talent to inherit, especially in the backfield, with Anthony Grant back for his senior season.
Grant led the team in rushing in 2022 as he had 218 carries for 915 yards and six rushing touchdowns in 12 starts at running back. He also recorded 18 catches for 104 yards. The highlight was rushing for 600 yards in the first six games of the season, including three 100-yard games in that stretch.
Their offensive line is mostly intact for Nebraska, as they are athletic and tough up front. Nebraska will rely on the running game as they transition with a new quarterback and coaching staff in place. Grant will be asked to do a lot to make big plays for the offense this season.
He is a tough runner who can run over players and is rarely brought down after first contact. Grant was used in short-yard situations to get the first down or touchdown. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, he does have quick feet and can make defenders miss.
In fairness, there are a lot of good running backs in the Big Ten, which could play a factor in why Grant isn’t talked about as one of the top backs in the conference. He does deserve the respect of being in the conversation with the rest of the Big Ten running backs this fall.
Danny Striggow, DE, Minnesota
Minnesota’s defense was among one of the best in the country in 2022, ranking in the top five in scoring (13.8). With only five starters returning from last season’s team, the Gophers will look for guys to step up, as they might see senior defensive lineman Danny Striggow be that guy.
Last season for Minnesota, Striggow recorded 20 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one interception, and leads all returning players with 3.5 sacks. He did miss two games last season due to injury but still was able to play 11 games for the Gophers.
Striggow will get his shot to start during the final season of his college career, after proving last season that he can pass rush with the best of them.
He is able to use his hands and quickness to get past opposing offensive linemen and sitting at 250 pounds, once he builds up steam, few can stop him. He can also drop into coverage if he needs to as well.
Minnesota might use him as a hybrid outside linebacker as he would fit into that role. In a conference with a lot of good pass rushers, as long as Striggow can stay healthy, he will be an asset for Minnesota’s defense, which is in a small rebuild mode.