BIG Ten Week 9 Recap

Posted on October 20, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Separation Week in the BIG TEN…

October 19, 2013

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The Golden Gophers edge ‘Cats 20-17

EVANSTON — Minnesota (5-2, 1-2) snapped a two-game losing streak as James Manuel broke a 7-7 tie with a 24-yard third quarter interception return and Chris Hawthorne turned another Wildcat turnover into a 34-yard field goal in the fourth.

Host Northwestern (4-3, 0-3) dropped its third straight.

Ailing head coach Jerry Kill, on indefinite leave after a series of epileptic seizures, watched from the coaches box as Manuel picked off Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian with 1:22 for a go-ahead score. The Gophers made it 17-7 just 87 seconds later on Hawthorne’s field goal after recovering a Wildcat fumble.

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Hawthorne’s 38-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining made it 20-10. Northwestern cut the deficit to 20-17 on a 10-yard touchdown strike from Siemian to Tony Jones with 2:07 remaining.

Gopher quarterback Philip Nelson was 8-of-11 for 112 yards, including a touchdown strike to Derrick Engel. Running back David Cobb rushed 20 times for 103 yards.

Minnesota’s defense shut down a promising Northwestern drive deep into Gopher territory early in the final frame. The Wildcats settled for a 35-yard Jeff Budzien field goal that cut the Gopher lead to 17-10 with 11:09 left in regulation.

After Hawthorne’s second field goal, Northwestern converted on three fourth downs in a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in Jones’ 10-yard TD reception.

An important note for the ‘Cats was two key Northwestern players were sidelined with reported ankle injuries: tailback Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter, who was dressed but only available in an emergency role.

Minnesota hosts Nebraska next Saturday while Northwestern travels to Iowa.

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Wisconsin has their way against Illinois 56-32

CHAMPAIGN — Melvin Gordon carried the mail on Saturday afternoon for the Badgers as he rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns to lead the ranked Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to a 56-32 rout of Illinois. Second running back James White backed him up with another 98 yards in 20 carries and two touchdowns.

“That momentum at the beginning was important,” Gordon said. “We knew we had to come out fast, especially on the road. They tried to take it from us but we took right back.”

Wisconsin lost defensive leader Chris Borland to injury early on Saturday and even with an early three-touchdown lead struggled to put Illinois away.

Borland, the team’s leading tackler, said he hurt his right hamstring covering a punt in the first quarter. He never returned, watching much of the second half in street clothes.

Borland’s absence didn’t improve Illinois’ ability to run. The Badgers entered the game as the 10th-best run defense in the country, giving up 90.1 yards a game. Josh Ferguson led Illinois with just 25 yards on seven carries. Borland’s backup, Marcus Trotter, made the most of his shot with a team-high nine tackles.

“I just couldn’t play,” he said. “It’s going to be OK, they’ve already started to take care of it.”

Illinois coach Tim Beckman said defense was a problem for the Illini (3-3, 0-2) , but so was a running game that managed just 72 yards on 29 carries against one of the top run defenses in the country.

“When you play against a team like that, you’ve got to be clocking on all cylinders,” he said. “Defensively, we didn’t tackle well in space.”

Illinois’ offense revolved around quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who had 249 yards passing. Steve Hull caught six passes for 105 yards.

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Defense carries Spartans to 14-0 win over Purdue (Associated Press)

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Denicos Allen returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown, and Michigan State’s offense finally added an insurance score in the fourth quarter of a 14-0 win over Purdue on Saturday.

The Spartans didn’t make it past the Purdue 32-yard line until the fourth, when receiver Tony Lippett threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Gleichert on a trick play.

Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten Conference) remains atop the Legends Division but clearly has work to do with the toughest part of its schedule still to come. Purdue (1-6, 0-3) kept it close after being routed by Wisconsin and Nebraska in its first two conference games, but Paul Griggs missed two field goals.

The Spartans entered with the nation’s top-ranked defense, and Allen opened the scoring in the second quarter with Michigan State’s fifth defensive touchdown of the season. Max Bullough hit quarterback Danny Etling, the ball popped free, and Allen was able to scoop it up and score easily.

Purdue converted a fourth down thanks to a penalty, which gave the Boilermakers the ball at the Michigan State 34 with 9 seconds left in the second quarter. That was as far into opposing territory as either team advanced the ball in the first half, but Griggs was short on a 51-yard field goal attempt.

Griggs also came up short from 41 yards in the third quarter, and Michigan State scored again in the fourth. Connor Cook completed a pass to Macgarrett Kings for 25 yards on third-and-12, and a 26-yard catch-and-run by Josiah Price put the ball at the Purdue 7.

Two plays later, Lippett took the ball on what looked like an end-around, but he threw to an open Gleichert for a touchdown.

Cook went 13 of 25 for 107 yards, although at one point he had only 17 yards on eight completions. Etling was 14 of 25 for 160 yards, but he also threw a crucial interception in the end zone in the first quarter, after Purdue had reached the Michigan State 37 with a fourth-down conversion.

Jeremy Langford had 131 yards on 24 carries for Michigan State.

While the Spartans were sputtering offensively, punter Mike Sadler gave them a lift, landing three punts inside the 10-yard line.

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Big Ten Week 7 recap

Posted on October 14, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Big Ten Week 7 Recap…

October 12, 2013

Michigan State 42, Indiana 28

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Nebraska 44, Purdue 7

The Cornhuskers has their way against the homecoming host Purdue Boilermakers, as they defeat them with ease 44-7 on Saturday.

Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah ran for 126 yards and a touchdown. Terrell Newby ran for 61 yards and Imani Cross added 56 yards and two touchdowns for the Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten).

This victory came with QB Taylor Martinez on the bench who has a turf toe injury. So, Tommy Armstrong Jr. started and completed just 6 of 18 passes for 43 yards with three interceptions. Ron Kellogg III stepped in and completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, Nebraska held Purdue to 216 yards, and the Boilermakers didn’t score until the final minute of the game. Purdue ran for just 32 yards on 25 carries.

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Northwestern 6, Wisconsin 35

The Badgers defense did all its talking on the field defeating the Cats 35-6. For most of the day, the Badgers pushed around an opponent that had been averaging 39 points and 474 yards a game. Players in red jerseys were flying around all over the field, especially in Northwestern’s backfield.

The Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) chased down quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trever Siemian. Jared Abbrederis burned the secondary for a 63-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter before leaving with a head injury. Gordon finished with 22 carries for 172 yards.

And, as usual, the heady Chris Borland was in the middle of what seemed like every play. That energy from the pregame speech seemed to carry over to both sides of the ball, building up as a slow start and defensive struggle turned into a decided blowout on homecoming weekend.

“Trust me, Chris Borland said whatever he needed to say in very (certain) terms,” coach Gary Andersen said. “Those kids listened to him.”

Northwestern (4-2, 0-2) the league’s peskiest defense, grabbed three more turnovers to increase its season total to 17.

The Wildcats just couldn’t turn those mistakes into enough points.

Clobbered by the pass rush. Shut down in the running game — just 44 yards on 25 carries, the lowest total since getting zero yards in a loss to Ohio State in 2007.

“I hope this gives our guys a punch in the face and wakes them up. It’s hard to win Big Ten football games,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When you get punched in the face, you’ve got to shake the cobwebs out.”

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Michigan 40, Penn State 43

It took overtime in Happy Valley for Penn to snag a 43-40 victory over visiting Michigan.

On fourth-and-1 and with an upset on the line, Belton leaped ahead for 3 yards. Three plays later, he was in the end zone, and Penn State’s party was on.

“If I don’t get the yard,” Belton said, “I’m going to hear it the rest of the time I’m here.”

Bill O’Brien celebrates arguably his biggest win as coach of Penn State with fans Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) stormed the field in wild celebration, sending more than 100,000 fans into a frenzy.

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B1G Ten Football Predictions

Posted on August 15, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Breaking down

As college football teams get started, we’re taking a quick look into the BIG Ten.

This is a snapshot of how the BIG Ten looks at this point in time, not knowing all the personnel/coaching changes that will be in place for next season. As a reminder, these can and will change during the next eight months. Ohio State is on top, and quite frankly, the Buckeyes are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Other teams such as Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan certainly belong in the league’s lead pack, while Michigan State and Penn State both have talent as well as question marks. We don’t see a whole lot separating Nos. 2-6.

There aren’t many BCS Championship contenders in the Big Ten, but here’s what stands in the way for the conference’s elite.

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Here we go …

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1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes made the most of their sanctioned season, running the table to post just the sixth unbeaten, untied season in team history. Urban Meyer’s crew now takes aim at a Big Ten title and perhaps even a national title, its first since 2002. Junior quarterback, Braxton Miller, leads a potentially explosive offense, but Ohio State needs its young defenders to grow up in a hurry as there are depth and experience questions on that side of the ball.

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2. Northwestern: The Wildcats won 10 games in 2012 with a young team most projected to win no more than seven. Northwestern returns a very strong nucleus, led by running back Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter, and loses only a few key seniors. Most of the Wildcats’ talent can be found in their younger classes. The schedule gets tougher in 2013 — Northwestern opens Big Ten play with Ohio State and Wisconsin — but the Wildcats should be a major factor in the Legends Division if they can shore up their offensive line and continue to make strides on defense.

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3. Nebraska: There’s no doubt Nebraska will have one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013. Fourth-year starter Taylor Martinez returns at quarterback and has the Big Ten’s largest arsenal of weapons at his disposal. The big concerns are on defense after Nebraska hemorrhaged points and yards in its four losses this past season and loses a group of seniors. Bo Pelini needs to get his defense back on track and hope the offense can limit turnovers, a huge problem throughout this season.

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4. Wisconsin: Gary Andersen hardly inherits a bare cupboard in Madison. His predecessor, Bret Bielema, actually pointed to the 2013 team as potentially his best with the Badgers. The coaching transition could create some speed bumps, but Wisconsin returns two dynamic running backs in James White and Melvin Gordon, multiple quarterbacks with experience and a good defensive front seven led by Chris Borland. There are concerns in the secondary (three starters gone) and at wide receiver (not enough playmakers), but Wisconsin should push Ohio State in the Leaders Division.

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5. Michigan: The Denard Robinson era is over and Michigan needs offensive playmakers to replace its record-setting quarterback and surround new signal-caller Devin Gardner. A bigger concern, though, is an offensive line that struggled at times in 2012 and must replace most of its starting lineup. Coach Brady Hoke should see some of his strong early recruiting efforts pay off in Year 3, although Michigan might not have the depth to challenge for a league title until 2014. Linebacker Jake Ryan leads a defense that has improved the past two seasons but must measure up to elite competition.

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6. Michigan State

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7. Penn State

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8. Minnesota

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9. Indiana

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10. Purdue

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11. Iowa

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12. Illinois

Fun Facts about the 2013 BIG Ten season… ~click here!

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BIG Ten insight…

Posted on August 15, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Who will win it all? Who’s the contender? Who’s the pretender?

August 15, 2013

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Ohio State:

A road trip to California may trip up the Buckeyes if they sleepwalk their way through the nonconference schedule as badly as they did in 2012, but it’s wholly reasonable to think Ohio State will be 11-0 when it travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.

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Michigan:

Notre Dame comes to town in what might be the most highly anticipated nonconference game of the Big Ten season (more on that later), and despite some heavy losses, the Irish will still have a level of talent to give Michigan all it can handle. Also, the Legends Division is basically one roadblock after another.

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Nebraska:

The Huskers should be happy to see UCLA come to town this year after the Bruins shellacked the Nebraska defense early on in 2012, but that’s still going to be the same UCLA offense with the same quarterback—and Brett Hundley’s only going to be more dangerous than last year, his freshman campaign.

TOUGHEST SCHEDULE

Iowa fans hoping for a quick return to the bowl season may be in for a rude surprise in 2013, as the Hawkeyes schedule looks to be a major hurdle on their road back to success. The nonconference schedule is manageable enough, though the trip to Iowa State usually means a loss for Kirk Ferentz. It’s what happens in the Big Ten that should doom Iowa, however.

The Legends Division should once again be one of the toughest divisions top-to-bottom in all of college football, and Iowa gets no favors from the scheduling gods when it comes to interdivisional play. Here, Iowa is saddled with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and perennial “rival” Purdue.

All told, Iowa faces all seven Big Ten bowl teams from 2012—and the eighth game is the worst of them all, a trip to Ohio State.

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EASIEST SCHEDULE

Ohio State sort of has a built-in advantage when it comes to scheduling since it’s the only school in its division that never has to play Ohio State. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes’ last schedule before the resume-conscious 2014 slate hits is an exercise in cupcakery (new word alert).

The offseason schedule is a joke, as a trip to slumping California is the only thing that could conceivably challenge the Buckeyes. Divisional rivals Wisconsin and Penn State both come to Columbus, and the only major test on the docket is a trip to Michigan to close out the regular season—at which point Urban Meyer could easily be 23-0 as Ohio State’s head coach.

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B1G AVOIDANCE….

The Big Ten’s six-team divisions mean each team gets five divisional games a year and three interdivisional games, including one annual protected rivalry. Here are the three teams each Big Ten school gets to miss in 2013.

In the Leaders Division, Illinois avoids Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. Indiana also won’t play Iowa; the Hoosiers also miss Nebraska and Northwestern.

Ohio State won’t play Michigan State, Minnesota or Nebraska, while Penn State gets the luxury of avoiding Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern. Purdue won’t see Michigan, Minnesota or Northwestern, and Wisconsin is avoiding Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska.

Over in the Legends Division, Iowa won’t face Illinois, Indiana or Penn State. Michigan also misses Illinois; also missing from the Wolverines’ docket are Purdue and Wisconsin. Michigan State avoids Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.

To finish it all off, Nebraska is missing Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin, while Northwestern won’t face Indiana, Penn State or Purdue.

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BEST NON-CONFERENCE Matchups

Missouri at Indiana: Missouri struggled through its first season in the SEC, but the Tigers are dangerous enough to hang points on anyone—especially the porous Hoosier defense. Don’t you dare count Kevin Wilson out of a fireworks show, though.

Notre Dame at Michigan:

The Wolverines want revenge for a 13-6 loss that wasn’t nearly that close, and getting the Irish in Ann Arbor may be the opportunity they need to jump-start a special season in 2013.

Michigan State at Notre Dame:

Notre Dame was miles ahead of the Spartans in 2012, but both programs will be in rebuilding mode, and MSU could steal an enormous road win here.

UCLA at Nebraska:

The Huskers will want to avenge last year’s 36-30 loss at UCLA, and the “Blackshirt” defense will be particularly in pursuit of restoring some pride after the Bruins hung 643 yards of offense on the Huskers last year.

Wisconsin at Arizona State:

Nobody’s going to mistake Todd Graham’s Sun Devils for the elite of the Pac-12, but their demolition of Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl and eight-win season served notice that you go to Tempe at your own peril. Wisconsin should be in for a 60-minute fight here.

BYU at Wisconsin:

The Badgers are the only two-time member of this list, which should give some indication as to how weak the Big Ten’s nonconference slate is in 2013. At any rate, this rare October non-con game should go a long way in determining bowl destinations for both schools.

And by contrary….

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WORST NON-CONFERENCE MATCHUPS

We could go 20-deep on this list. For your sake we won’t.

Wyoming at Nebraska:

We’re perversely hoping the announcers refer to this game as a “border war,” as if there’s anyone living within 100 miles of the Wyoming-Nebraska border.

Indiana State at Indiana:

In-state rivalries like this are why Indiana is a basketball state.

UNLV at Minnesota:

For the second straight year, the Rebels and Gophers kick off the season a couple days early, and for the second straight year, it will be one of the most insanely idiotic games we have ever watched. At no point in the rambling, incoherent contest will they be close to anything considered quality football. Everyone in that stadium and watching on television will be dumber for having watched it.

Illinois vs. Washington at Chicago:

They’re not seriously putting in a game’s worth of foot traffic on the notoriously dodgy Soldier Field grass for an Illinois football game, are they?

Florida A&M at Ohio State:

Braxton Miller might get in a quarter of work before his day is done. Yawn.

Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin:

The Golden Eagles weren’t even good by FCS standards; they went 3-8 in a weak Ohio Valley Conference in 2012.

Be sure to READ our story on Breaking down the BIG 10 Football with our predictions ~click here

 

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