Penn State junior running back Bill Belton has been honored by the Big Ten Conference for his career-high 201-yard rushing effort in Penn State's 24-17 overtime win over Illinois last Saturday.
Belton was selected Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career. He becomes the fourth Nittany Lion to earn conference honors this season, joining placekicker Sam Ficken, quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive end C.J. Olaniyan. Belton shares the Big Ten weekly honor with Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson.
Belton delivered the first 200-yard rushing game by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson ran for 279 yards against Michigan State in 2002. Belton crushed his previous career-high of 108 in the win over Eastern Michigan on Sept. 7. His 36 carries also were a career-best and the most by a Nittany Lion since Zach Zwinak had 36 last season against Wisconsin.
Belton has gained a team-high 668 yards this season on 128 carries (5.2) and scored four touchdowns. He also has 11 catches for 103 yards and two scores and his 837 all-purpose yards (104.6 avg.) are second on the team. In Big Ten games only, Belton is fourth in the conference in rushing at 103.8 ypg. Belton's 201-yard rushing performance is second-highest in the Big Ten this season, trailing only the 225 yards by Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah.
Belton has 996 career rushing yards and needs only four yards to become the 41st Nittany Lion with 1,000 career rushing yards.
Hackenberg helped lead Penn State to its second consecutive home overtime win to earn Athlon Sports' Big Ten Freshman honor. He was 20 of 32 (62.5) for 240 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions against the Illini. He also ran for a nine-yard score in the second quarter. In overtime, he rifled a 15-yard scoring strike to tight end Kyle Carter to give Penn State a 24-17 lead. On Illinois' first play in the extra session, cornerback Adrian Amos broke up a pass in the end zone that was intercepted by safety Ryan Keiser, giving Penn State its fifth consecutive overtime win.
For the season, Hackenberg is 164 of 281 for 2,024 yards, with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The former Fork Union Military Academy All-American also has two rushing touchdowns. He leads the Big Ten in passing yards (253.0 ypg) and completions and is tied for fourth in touchdown passes. Hackenberg's six 200-yard passing games this season are a Penn State freshman record.