2, Running back Carlos Hyde: The Ohio State offense has settled in the past few weeks since Hyde has emerged. He battled an early-season knee injury and also seemed slated to split reps with Jordan Hall, but the latter has been banged up and seems ticketed for a medical redshirt. With Hyde becoming the undisputed No. 1 back, the offense has really taken off, and Hyde has taken some of the pressure off of Miller. He's a bruiser who is capable of getting major yards after contact on inside zone and zone read runs, and Hyde is also a force in the red zone, one reason he has 13 rushing scores on the year including 11 in the last five games.
3, Defensive end John Simon: The senior came to OSU with a noted work ethic and a reputation as a workout freak, and he has steadily increased his production over his career. Simon has 39 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and a team-high five sacks this year while serving as a captain and a leader. One of Urban Meyer's favorite players because of his intangibles, Simon isn't a typical speed rusher but is capable of giving tackles all they can handle because of his combination of strength and quickness. Much of his impact isn't felt on the stat sheet, as his ability to rush the passer often leads to hurried throws and blown up plays cleaned up by his teammates.
4, Defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins: The junior known as "Big Hank" fits the bill at 6-3, 322 pounds, but Hankins isn't just a typical hole plugger. He has a surprising ability given his size of moving side to side to track down ball carriers along with an ability to shed blockers and blow up running plays before they start. That combination of skills has allowed Hankins to rack up 50 tackles, good for third on the team and third among Big Ten defensive linemen. The big man is truly fun to watch given his unique set of skills.
5, Cornerback Bradley Roby: This could have easily gone to sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is second in the Big Ten with 98 tackles and has been the Big Ten defensive player of the week in his last two games, but Roby has been a standout for the entire campaign. A potential first-round draft pick and a Thorpe Award semifinalist, Roby has two interceptions and 16 pass breakups, a total of 18 passes defended that leads the nation. He's also blocked a punt and has scored three touchdowns on the season, one on a pick-six and two in the special teams realm. The Georgia native has blazing speed -- some say he's the fastest player on the team -- and no shortage of both intelligence and confidence.