No one watching Northwestern's 44-30 victory over Cal Saturday night thought Collin Ellis's two second-half interception returns for touchdowns were anything less than game-changing. That is the only correct way to describe his doubly excellent tip-catch-and-run efforts. Everyone tuned in, or attending the game in person, was impressed. They had to be.
The Big Ten formalized its hat-tipping approval Monday by naming Ellis the conference's defensive player of the week. On Tuesday, college football's national media nerve center, otherwise known as the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), echoed that praise: Ellis was named the Bronco Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, according to a release, and was also added to the 2013 Nagurski Award watch list -- the winner of which will be announced on December 9, roughly three weeks after the FWAA reveals its five chosen finalists.
Saturday night was a memorable performance for Ellis, and arguably the deciding factor in Northwestern's 14-point win. His first possession-robbery turned the game just when it appeared Cal's dizzying offense was on the verge of pulling away; his second gave the Wildcats a 10-point cushion and effectively sealed the deal midway through the fourth quarter.
This is a tremendous achievement. The plaudits are well-deserved.