Two weeks ago, the mere mention of Nate Triplett's name would have drawn blank stares around the Big Ten and even among some Minnesota fans. Triplett had been around for a while at Minnesota, appearing in 26 games for the Gophers with one start at linebacker before this season. He was a special-teams stud, but few ever remember special-teams studs. Some undoubtedly asked, 'Who was that guy?' after Triplett intercepted Syracuse's Greg Paulus in overtime at the Carrier Dome, setting up Minnesota's game-winning field goal in the opener. Then last Saturday, Triplett exploded for a career-high 17 tackles against Air Force and broke open a tie game with a 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown as Minnesota won 20-13. No defender in the Big Ten and perhaps none in the country has played more instrumental roles in two victories than Triplett, who was named Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Air Force. "It’s my last season, senior year," Triplett said, "and I set the bar high coming in, saying, ‘You know what? I’m not going to hold anything back.’ I just give it everything I got every snap, every practice, every day."