Penn State 10: Week 11 power rankings

Welcome to Week 11 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 loss on the road to Nebraska, several defensive 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. RB Zach Zwinak

He's known as a bruising runner who plows over opposing defenses, but he flashed some speed Saturday and opened the game with a 50-yard touchdown run, thanks to a nice block from John Urschel. Zwinak was never tackled in the backfield and ran for 141 yards, one touchdown and averaged nearly seven yards a carry. Not only is he the best tailback on the team, he's one of the best players.

2. LB Gerald Hodges

He's really turned it up the last few weeks. He overshadowed another certain Penn State linebacker against Purdue last week, and he again impressed Saturday with 14 tackles, a pass breakup and a tackle-for-loss. He was forced to drop back into pass coverage a bit more often and played solidly in the first half. He was PSU's defensive player of the game.

3. DE Deion Barnes

He had a game-leading three tackles-for-losses and also added a sack -- and oh, by the way, he's just a redshirt freshman. With the way Barnes has been playing this season, it's fair to start asking if he's going to be at Penn State for his senior season. Barnes is definitely something special, and he again showed that Saturday.

4. LB Michael Mauti

What else is there left to say about this guy? He sprinted all over the field, never gave up on a play and caused headaches for Nebraska in the first half. He had 10 tackles, forced a fumble and left an even bigger impact that didn't show up on the stat sheet. He's the heart of this defense, and he belongs on this list every week.

5. WR Allen Robinson

Last year's third-stringer finished with six catches and 97 yards to give him 63 catches on the year. He was one of the few bright spots on offense, and he'll almost certainly make PSU history against Indiana. Against Nebraska, he tied the single-season receptions record with Penn State greats O.J. McDuffie and Bobby Engram.

6. LB Glenn Carson

Some might call him the "forgotten linebacker" since he plays alongside two Butkus semifinalists, but he was easy to remember after a 14-tackle performance Saturday. He made his presence felt early with three stops on the first drive, and he seemed relatively consistent in the first half. He may not get his due because of Mauti and Hodges, but he deserves some recognition after Saturday.

7. CB Adrian Amos

He's a defensive back, but he hit like a linebacker Saturday. He knocked the ball loose on a huge hit on Nebraska's Jamal Turner, and he later came up with a big tackle on 2nd-and-goal in the third quarter to give the Cornhuskers a long third down. He finished with four tackles Saturday -- and all of them were solo.

8. LB Mike Hull

Four linebackers in the first eight spots? Absolutely. This is Linebacker U., after all. Hull always seems to be in the right place at the right time and came away with an important fumble recovery Saturday. He finished with a respectable seven tackles and has earned more playing time as the season's progressed.

9. DT Jordan Hill

No, this wasn't the defensive tackle's best game. But expectations are also factored into these rankings, and not much was expected of Hill. He was considered doubtful, but still came away with five tackles and a stop in the backfield. He showed a lot of heart Saturday and deserves a spot here.

10. K Sam Ficken

Like we said, expectations. For a kicker who went 1-of-5 earlier in the season, he sure surprised a lot of fans Saturday by playing basically a perfect game. He nailed three field goals, two extra points and scored five touchbacks on six kickoffs. Ficken still hasn't made a field goal longer than 39 yards, but the fact he even has a "range" now speaks volumes about his improvement. He wasn't a liability Saturday, and the team was much better for it.