2017 Illinois vs Ball State

Posted on August 30, 2017. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Sporting News | Tags: , , , , |

Illini host MAC’s Ball State in opener

September 1, 2017

PrezRo
compiled by Prez Ro
follow back at @PrezRo365

Game Preview

Broadcast, TV, Game Time
Date: Saturday, Sept. 2nd
Game Time:12:00 pm ET
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Network: BTN

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Illinois, there’s no reason to not start out hot. Or is there? Time for week one actions….

Illinois is (1-0) all-time against the Ball State Cardinals. There last (and only) meeting was in 2007, Illinois won 28-17 at Memorial Stadium. Ball State is (3-36-1) against teams in the Big Ten. All three wins have come against the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington -or- Indianapolis.

Not to start the season being over confident about the Illini or to appear condescending, but we all know there’s still work to be done on an inconsistent offense from last season, and the defense that needs fine tuning.

This week, Mike Neu’s Ball State Cardinals will travel to Champaign to open their season with the Fighting Illini. The MAC West’s worst team a year ago, Ball State comes into the 2017 campaign after posting a 4-8 record last season. While that’s not anything to brag about, it should be noted that 4 of the 8 losses the Cardinals had were by 7 points or less (2 were by 3 points or less).

The Ball State offense creates big holes to roll through, and that’s not a plus for an Illinois defense needing to overcome the loss of all four starters up front. They can flat out run the football and having a quarterback as mobile as Riley Neal makes that an easier feat to overcome. Neal was the third best rushing QB in the MAC, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, totaling 543 yards, and scoring 8 touchdowns. In the backfield is James Gilbert, who ran for 1332 yards (3rd in MAC) averaging 5.3 yards per carry (8th in MAC) and 12 touchdowns (T1st in MAC) in 2016. If there’s one thing that Illinois needs to defend against on Saturday, it’s the run.

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On contrast, Illinois did not defend against the run well last season. Ranked 103rd in the nation in average rushing yards surrendered (219.2 yds/g), Ball State’s experienced rushing attack will cause some problems for the Illini on Saturday. The good news though, is that Illinois has a new JUCO transfer starting at linebacker in Del’Shawn Phillips. We will see how Hardy Nickerson will have his defense prepared to handle the Cardinal run-game…

In short, the Illini must win this opener against Ball State but as we know, it will not be easy. The Cardinals will be a tough competitor who will not lay down and surrender. With Western Kentucky and a trip to South Florida up next, nothing is given to this Illini team and they must show up and play four quarters.

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Time for 8 Team Expansion

Posted on December 18, 2016. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Sports Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

How to Expand the College Football Playoff

December 11, 2016

PrezRo
compiled by Prez Ro
follow back at @PrezRo365

As the subject states… it’s time to expand the College Football Playoff (CFP) from 4-teams to 8 like immediately!

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It’s the third College Football Playoff season rankings and Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director, reiterated that the system is working. “We are confident,” Hancock said Sunday, “that four is the right number.”

Is it? The Big Ten Champion is out of the playoffs… Big 12 leader is out… Undefeated Western Michigan is out…. but it’s working?

He went on to say “I don’t anticipate any discussion about expansion.” In a word, INTERESTING!!!!

So, wouldn’t you say eight teams would be much more solid as well as fun for the students! And it seems that the majority of fans want the playoff to expand! And every playoff in every major American sport has eventually grown bigger!

NOTE: FCS, Division-I, has been doing this for years

Speaking December 7th at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, Emmert said he prefers an eight-team format that includes automatic bids for champions of each Power Five conference.

And in case you didn’t know, NCAA Commissioner, Mark Emmert, doesn’t have control over the College Football Playoff format — the NCAA doesn’t run the Football Bowl Subdivision postseason and they always remind you of that — but “if” he did, he’d expand it to eight teams in a heartbeat.

However, as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany noted on Wednesday, the field selection this year did not provide any movement toward an eight-team playoff. In so many words he shared ‘the tires have been kicked on an eight-team playoff, casually or otherwise, even before major college football had a four-team playoff. With the three-year-old postseason format paying out hefty sums of money, one can venture to guess expansion is coming at some point in the future.’

Why eight teams? Many believe, including the staff at Amateur Sports, eight is the sweet spot for the college football playoff: more national representation but not too much, and only one more round of competition. Even further…. win your conference (Big Ten, SEC, ACC, MAC, Big 12, PAC12, *AAC or *Sun Belt) and you are in – PERIOD!!! With one spot for a solid wildcard (highest ranked teams remaining including independent teams like Navy and Notre Dame, etc).

* best overall record between these two conference determines who’s in…

The case for expansion…

For the first two years of the playoff, one thing looked abundantly clear: winning your conference championship was important and all eight playoff teams in those two years were conference champs. But this year, Penn State messed things up by winning the Big Ten championship. Suddenly, the qualifying statements perpetuated by the “CYA” mission of selecting the “four best teams” began pouring in. Then came along the dialogue about the resumes between Penn State and Ohio State, which were not close but they won when they had to based on their schedule.

To be clear, this isn’t to say those statements are wrong. In many ways they’re right. But can anyone remember this much dismissing of conference titles last year? How about the year before? Funny how it emerges when it’s the team no one expects winning the conference.

And let’s not forget the efforts of Western Michigan who went undefeated including winning the MAC championship, and they are out too.

Additionally, two things fans love about March Madness take effect. There’s the Cinderella story, which would have been Western Michigan this year, and the team with the hot hand. No one denies that early-season losses by Oklahoma and USC matter, but it’s also true they aren’t the same teams now as they were in September. Expanding to eight at least allows for greater consideration of this.

The macro point here is that the first three seasons of the playoff have been filled with inconsistencies. Fans see this on a week-to-week basis with the mock rankings selection show. “Body clocks” is a pass one week and “game control” is a criterion the next. Flexibility is the beauty of having a human committee. It’s also what makes it extraordinarily frustrating. Having the Power Five conference champions as automatic bids absolutely takes away the drama, but it also takes away a lot of the frustration.

What would an eight-team playoff look like this season? This exercise is part reality and part subjectivity.

To acknowledge the selection committee members, we will use their top four: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Washington.

Now, the fun part: we pick the next four!

They are as follows: No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Western Michigan, No. 7 Michigan and No. 8 Oklahoma. Despite a 39-point loss at Michigan Stadium, Penn State is ahead of the Wolverines because of its overall profile (wins over Ohio State, Wisconsin, Temple and Iowa) and conference championship.

Unfortunately, the first four out would be USC, Wisconsin, Florida State, and Colorado. USC is very close to Oklahoma to us even though they didn’t win their conference or division but has two better wins — Washington and Colorado — than anything on Oklahoma’s résumé. Plus, outside of Alabama, USC is the team no one wants to play.

Here’s how our hypothetical eight-team playoff would look this year.

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NOTE: With the team with the higher ranking “host” to game on their home field.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (10-2)

No. 2 Clemson (12-1) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2)

No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 6 Western Michigan (13-0)

No. 4 Washington (12-1) vs. No. 5 Penn State (11-2)

college-bracket-2016

NOTE: Losers are then slotted to the “already” predetermined bowl games ~click here for details on that. Notice in the column of team selection how it states conference and place in the standings.

CONCLUSION
Now to be fair, there is a case against expansion expanding…

What do you want to reward? The best team in tournament play at the time of the tournament, or the best team in the land?

In the modern era of college football, championships have been won by teams with superior talent and excellent coaching. Each year, you could make an argument that only about 13-16 teams in the country will fit that description at the beginning of the year, and many of those teams will fall from title contention because of injuries or ill-timed poor play. If the playoff is expanded, you gain the element of postseason drama but risk losing a worthy champion because of a bad break. Often you hear let’s leave the “Cinderella story” to college basketball and let college football crown its king with the four best teams in the country.

I also think expanding the playoffs would require increasing the scholarship limit or cutting back on the number of regular-season games. Expanding the playoff would decrease the urgency for conference championship weekend for teams that were “locks,” like Ohio State was heading into Selection Sunday this season.

I’m not great at math, but scholarships cost money, cutting regular season or conference title games means less money, and there isn’t enough impetus for this current crop of conference commissioners to go through the headache or reworking the letter of the law without knowing more regarding the future of finances (media rights) in college football.

Regardless of the “so-called” obstacles, isn’t it about the “student-athlete” and their efforts on the field? And these athletes can only play who’s on the schedule and in front of them. We also believe the NCAA should “own” one floating week on ALL D1 schedules each year, which they can force teams to play a real, out of conference competitor, but that’s in an upcoming article – Stay tune. We digress…

In the end, we’re going to watch and debate, but respectively speaking, it’s time to reward overall achievement not what we think will happen.

For fun, here is a 16-team playoff by our friends at SEC country  – whew!… click here!

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2014 BIG Ten – Week 2

Posted on September 8, 2014. Filed under: NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Week 2…

September 6, 2014

BIG games this week across the board…

The Big Ten went 8-5 in Week 2, and we learned some things in the process. Brace yourself; this won’t be pretty.

Aside from Wisconsin-LSU, the rest of the Big Ten games were blowouts, narrow escapes against inferior teams, or upset losses. Week 2, I argued, would show what the Big Ten was capable of. Oh, did it ever.

Western KentuckyWKentucky 34, Illinoisillinois2014 42

For the second straight week, the Fightin’ Illini came back to snag a victory. This week, it was against stingy Western Kentucky.

WKU led 17-14 at the half, but then Wes Lunt carried the load, or should we say passed the load, by going for 456. Illinois scored three times to take a 42-27 lead in the fourth quarter and survive a last-minute score by the Hilltoppers. It’s not pretty, but Tim Beckman’s team is 2-0.

Central MichiganCMichigan  38, Purduepurdue2014 17

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. – a sloppy loss for the Boilermakers at home against the MAC.

It was the (Cooper) Rush / (Thomas) Rawls show for the Chippewas (2-0). Rush tossed 2 TD passes, while Rawls ran for two. He finished the game with 31 carries for 155 yards, while Rush finished 11 of 16 for 172 yards with one interception.

It wasn’t even close. Another spark for the visitors came from former Mount Carmel player, Brandon Greer, who returned a 57-yard interception back for the for the first score of the game. Then in about 2-mintues later, Anthony Rice broke a tackle and scored on a 65-yard catch-and-run (14-0).

The Boilermakers got on the board when Danny Etling took the ball in from 4 yards out making the score 14-7. A few series later Rawls scored from two-yards out before halftime making it 21-7. Home team couldn’t get any closer than that.

The Chippewas beat a Big Ten foe for the second time in three seasons and improved to 6-23 against teams currently in the conference.

Purdue (1-1) failed to get its first 2-0 start since 2007 and still hasn’t opened a season with back-to-back wins over Football Bowl Subdivision opponents since 2005.

HowardHoward 25, Rutgersrutgers2014 38

The Scarlet Knights led 31-7 at the half. Despite the late scores and routinely porous defense, Rutgers was the most impressive of the noon teams.

 

Akron 3, Penn State 21

You can say Penn State played down to visiting Akron, as they only had a 7-0 lead at halftime, but the Nitanny Lions got their roar in the second half to get the W.

McNeese State 24, Nebraska 31

Ameer Abdullah came to the rescue for Nebraska in an incredible last-minute touchdown reception saving the Cornhuskers from total embarrassment against McNeese State.

The Cornhuskers let McNeese State hang around far longer than they should have. Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a lazy out route that McNeese returned 98 yards for a tying score. Nebraska’s offensive line couldn’t give Abdullah holes, and McNeese tied it at 24 with four minutes remaining. With only 20 seconds remaining, Abdullah had a sensational tackle-breaking run after catch to spare Nebraska from ignominy.

NOTE: In the absence of Braxton Miller, the “Abdullah for Big Ten MVP” bandwagon is looking pretty good.

Western Illinois 37, Wisconsin 3

The game began in a weird fashion with a safety on Western Illinois’ opening kickoff return. The Badgers led 2-0 for most of the half, as neither Melvin Gordon (17 carries for 38 yards) nor Tanner McEvoy could produce. At least McEvoy recovered after halftime, completing 17 passes in a row and finishing with three touchdowns, but it was a shaky performance for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin seemed a little out of sorts through the entire first half, but recovered in the second half to produce a deceptively perilous final score.

 Ball State 13,  Iowa 17

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Maryland 24, USF 17

Maryland was supposed to beat South Florida easily. Instead, the Terrapins had six giveaways and had to rely on a blocked punt in the fourth quarter to put away the Bulls.

Middle Tennessee 24, Minnesota 35

Once again Minnesota was out-gained by an opponent, and once again it won by double digits. Minnesota built a 28-0 lead and rode out a rough second half to beat Middle Tennessee.

Unlike Iowa, Minnesota coaches know their strengths (David Cobb, their star running back, is a powerful workhorse) and weaknesses (Mitch Leidner can’t pass) and craft an optimal offense around those limitations. It’s going to get tiring calling the Golden Gophers opportunistic every week.

Northern IllinoisNIU  23, Northwesternnorthwestern2014 15

In spite of Northwestern’s collapse against Cal in the season opener, the Wildcats were a 5 point favorite coming into this game. Go figure!

Like last week, the Wildcats were down early to a 23-7 lead and just couldn’t come back. In short, Northwestern was trounced on the line of scrimmage by a MAC team, an awful sign for Big Ten play.

Michigan Statemichiganstate2014 27, OregonOregon 46

The Ducks were trailing in the third quarter, 27-18, against Michigan State until Marcus Mariota flipped the ball to Royce Freeman (89 yards, 2 scores) and the flood gates opened up. From here, they went on to score the first of four unanswered touchdowns to knock out the Big Ten from a west coast victory.

Mariota went 17/28 for 318 and three touchdowns.

Michigan State was lead by 29/47 for 343 and 2 TDs / 2 INTs.

Michiganmichigan2014 O, Notre DameNotreDame 31

The Irish are for real. After seeing them week one against Rice, there game play was lowered saying who they played, but tonight, whew…. the Irish jumped out early and often knocking off what many thought was the hottest team in the Big Ten in a complete shutout.

Everything went Notre Dame’s way.

Wolverine’s Devin Gardner had four giveaways, including a pick six at the final whistle that didn’t count in the final score and resulted in him getting dinged up. Michigan running backs averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

This game also marks the last game in the Michigan-Notre Dame series, and possibly the rivalry.

NOTE: the Wolverines scoreless for the first time in 30 years.

Virginia TechVaTech 35,  Ohio Stateohiostate2014 21

Michael Brewer passed for two touchdowns on Saturday night and Virginia Tech’s defense stood tough at the end as the Hokies stunned the eighth-ranked Buckeyes 35-21.

”I still have confidence that we have enough skill on this football team to get by people,” Meyer said.

Indiana Bye Week

Stay tuned for next week when the Big Ten’s Week 2 winners try to restore a shred of the conference’s credibility. Iowa-Iowa State, Maryland-West Virginia, Minnesota-TCU, Illinois-Washington and the very first Big Ten game in Rutgers history ought to be worth watching.

 

“BIG TEN HELMET STICKERS 4 the Week”

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OFFENSE: Wes Lunt, Illinois
DEFENSE: Drew Ott, Iowa
SPECIAL TEAMS: N/A
FRESHMEN: N/A

 

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2012 NCAA Football – Week 7

Posted on October 18, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Sporting News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

August 2012

Northern Illinois rout Buffalo 45-3

(AP) — Jordan Lynch ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns and threw two scoring passes in the second half as Northern Illinois rolled to a 45-3 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.

Northern Illinois (6-1, 3-0 MAC 2nd place west division behind toledo. Play them Nov 14) got 129 yards on the ground from Lynch, and he completed 13 of 20 passes for 232 yards. Martel Moore caught 8 passes for 133 yards and a TD.

Buffalo (1-5, 0-3) was pressured by the Northern Illinois defense most of the day. Northern Illinois intercepted Alex Zordich on two occasions and sacked him twice.

Devon Hughes caught 9 passes for 105 yards for Buffalo.

Iowa knocks off favorite Michgan State at hm 19-16

(AP) — Mark Weisman ran for 116 yards and scored a tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation, and Iowa went on to beat Michigan State 19-16 in double overtime Saturday.

Mike Meyer kicked field goals in both overtimes, including a 42-yarder in the second that gave the Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) their first lead of the game. Iowa then won it when Andrew Maxwell‘s deflected pass was intercepted by Greg Castillo.

Le’Veon Bell ran for 140 yards and a touchdown for Michigan State, but the Spartans (4-3, 1-2) couldn’t hold on late. Iowa drove 68 yards in nine plays and tied it at 13 on Weisman’s 5-yard scoring run with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Hawkeyes appeared to be in trouble late in the fourth when they faced second-and-26 from their own 16, but James Vandenberg found Keenan Davis single covered along the right sideline for a 35-yard gain.

Weisman’s 37-yard run on third-and-6 gave Iowa the ball at the Michigan State 8 and set up the tying TD, which also came on third down.

The teams traded short field goals in the first overtime. Michigan State could have won it with a touchdown in the second, but Maxwell’s pass appeared to be tipped at the line of scrimmage, then deflected off the hands of wide receiver Keith Mumphery and was intercepted by Castillo.

It was the first interception for Maxwell since he threw three in the season opener against Boise State.

On a rainy day at Spartan Stadium, Vandenberg threw an early interception when his pass was tipped by defensive lineman William Gholston and picked off by Denicos Allen.

Michigan State took over at the Iowa 26 and gave the ball to Bell four straight times. His 14-yard touchdown run made it 7-0.

The Hawkeyes trailed 10-0 in the second quarter when Jordan Cotton had a kickoff return for a touchdown nullified by an illegal block. Iowa still ended up with the ball near midfield and drove for a field goal.

Michigan State missed a chance to score in the final seconds of the half because of a farcical miscommunication. Maxwell completed a 19-yard pass to Mumphery to the Iowa 32 with 6 seconds left. The clock stopped momentarily because of the first down, but there was mass confusion among the Spartans, who needed only to stop the clock with a spike and bring their field-goal unit out.

Michigan State eventually got lined up – but Maxwell, the quarterback, was nowhere to be seen. Bell went to the line of scrimmage as if to take the snap himself, and Maxwell finally ran over from the sideline to the backfield, but the clock ran out.

 

Michigan cruises over Illinois 45-0

(AP) — Denard Robinson overcame his mysterious first-quarter injury and then brushed aside the Illini almost as easily.

Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over the Fighting Illini (0-3, 2-5) on Saturday.

The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run – his second of four touchdowns – to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.

”It was just a boo-boo,” said Robinson, declining to say what sent him out of the game briefly. ”It’s all good. It didn’t bother me at all.”

Robinson threw two TD passes, ran for two scores and accounted for 287 yards, giving him 10,000-plus career yards on offense.

He was 7 of 11 for 159 yards and connected with Jeremy Gallon, who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score, and perfectly lofted an 8-yard pass to Devin Funchess in the end zone.

Robinson ran 11 times for 128 yards – his 18th career 100-yard game on the ground – and the highlight was a juke-filled, 49-yard run that put Michigan ahead 24-0 early in the second half.

”He made people miss tackles,” Fighting Illini coach Tim Beckman said. ”He’s a very, very good football player. He had a sensational game.”

The Wolverines were also pretty good on defense. They had their first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 a little more than a year ago and held Illinois to 134 yards of offense with just 13 yards after halftime.

”It’s embarrassing,” Illinois center Graham Pocic said. ”We can’t put it all together.”

Michigan also made plays on special teams with freshman Dennis Norfleet returning a punt 42 yards, not giving up a yard on four punts, allowed no more than 21 yards on a kickoff return and connected on its only field goal.

”It’s probably as complete as we played,” Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said. ”But it’s not nearly good enough.”

Michigan gave its fans a lot of reasons to cheer on a chilly, rainy day, but the fans cloaked in maize and blue ponchos were loudest when it was announced that rival Michigan State lost earlier in the day at home to Iowa. The Wolverines will host the Spartans (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the series, but insisted they won’t start thinking about that matchup until Sunday.

The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) had their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, knocked out of the game because of concussion in the second quarter.

Scheelhaase completed two passes for 4 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, including a 23-yard gain in which he was injured when he landed face first in the turf when Jibreel Black hit him from behind.

”I grabbed Nate when he came off the field and he said he was all right and wanted to go back in the game,” Beckman said. ”But he did some things that proved he wasn’t all right. Our doctors made the right decision.”

Scheelhaase was replaced by Reilly O’Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away. O’Toole was 5 of 10 for 25 yards and lost 8 yards on five carries.

In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.

Beckman chose to attempt a 50-yard field goal – instead of going for a fourth-and-4 from the Michigan 32 down by 10 points – and Taylor Zalewski missed the kick, ending the drive in which Scheelhaase was hurt. The Illini turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when running back Donovonn Young was dropped for a loss by Kenny Demens on a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 41.

The Wolverines turned the lopsided game into a rout with 21 points in the third, turning two turnovers into TDs and forcing the Illini to lose 9 yards in the quarter.

On Illinois’ first snap of the second half, O’Toole threw an interception to Demens and the linebacker returned it 13 yards to the Illini 27 to set up another TD. Toole avoided getting sacked by Jake Ryan later in the third quarter, but held onto the ball long enough for the outside linebacker to get back to him to force a fumble at the Illinois 6.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to put the Wolverines ahead 38-0.

Michigan put backup Russell Bellomy, who replaced Robinson when he was hurt, came back in and promptly fumbled the ball away on the first drive of the fourth quarter.

Later, Bellomy handed off to Thomas Rawls up the middle and the backup running back did the rest, breaking two tackles on a 63-yard run to give Michigan a 45-0 lead later in the fourth.

Just before kickoff, college football’s winningest school unretired the jersey worn by former President Gerald Ford. The Wolverines let linebacker Desmond Morgan to wear No. 48 with a ”Michigan Football Legends,” patch and he made a tackle on Illinois’ first play.

”It’s quite an honor and privilege,” Morgan said.

 

Northwestern squeeks passed Minnesota 21-13

(AP) — Venric Mark rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns to carry Northwestern to a 21-13 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

Mark wasn’t touched on scoring runs of 26 and 48 yards and the Wildcats (6-1, 2-1 Legends Divison behind Michigan and Iowa) overcame 11 penalties to become bowl eligible and spoil Minnesota’s homecoming celebration.

MarQueis Gray rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown after missing the previous two games with knee and ankle injuries. But he also threw an interception and was injured again late in the third quarter for the Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2).

The Gophers had a chance for a tying touchdown late, but Northwestern’s defense stiffened at the 6-yard line to keep them out of the end zone. Cornerback Nick VanHoose made the key play on the stand, batting a pass away from A.J. Barker in the end zone to save a touchdown.

Less than 10 seconds into the game, Northwestern was already up 7-0. Gophers linebacker Lamonte Edwards, a converted running back, botched the opening kickoff and C.J. Bryant pounced on it to give the Wildcats the ball at Minnesota’s 26-yard line.

Mark took the handoff, burst through the line and saw nothing but daylight, racing 26 yards untouched for the score.

That would be a common theme throughout the first half. Mark added a 48-yard scoring run in the second quarter, a burst through the middle where nary a finger was laid on him. He also had runs of 47 and 25 yards in the first half to help the Wildcats take a 21-10 lead.

Mark’s big day on the ground eliminated any need for Northwestern’s passing game, and that was a good thing for the Wildcats. Kain Colter was 10 for 10, but for just 63 yards. And Trevor Siemian, the passing specialist in the Wildcats’ two-quarterback system, was 1 for 7 for 4 yards.

Mark’s big 48-yard TD helped neutralize a brief bit of momentum for the Gophers.

When Max Shortell went out with an injured left hand late in the first quarter, Gray ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run at the start of the second to pull Minnesota to 14-10.

But David Nwabuisi made an acrobatic, one-handed interception off of a pass tipped by Quentin Williams to stall the Gophers. Mark was off to the races two plays later, and the Wildcats were on their way to a rebound victory after losing at Penn State last week.

It was another disappointing effort for the Gophers, who were starting to create some optimism on campus with a 4-0 start to the season. But a 31-13 thumping at Iowa two weeks ago brought them back down to earth, and they followed that up with a sloppy, mistake-prone performance coming out of their bye.

They fumbled the ball seven times, losing two, and committed nine penalties.

The turnovers were compounded by three bad snaps from center Zac Epping and some curious play-calling that stunted several drives. After calling time out and pulling their offense off the field on fourth-and-11 from Northwestern’s 36, they ran kicker Jordan Wettstein out for a 53-yard field-goal try. The Wildcats weren’t buying it from the start, and a fake run was thwarted easily to turn the ball over.

On third-and-13 from the Northwestern 46, they called a draw to Donnell Kirkwood that gained just 5 yards. And with no timeouts and the ball at their own 49 with just over a minute to play in the first half, the Gophers called a draw to Gray that went nowhere and took any chance of a late score out of the equation.

Wisconsin digs deep for a win on the road over Purdue 38-14

(AP) — Montee Ball ran for a career-high 247 yards and scored three touchdowns to help Wisconsin beat Purdue 38-14 on Saturday afternoon.

James White added 124 yards rushing for the Badgers (5-2, 2-1 3rd place in Leaders divsion behind Ohio St, Penn St – two teams that do NOT qualify for post-season), who outgained Purdue 645 yards to 252. The Badgers pounded out 467 yards rushing in the rain.

Ball moved past Texas Tech’s Taurean Henderson and now is alone in third place in NCAA history with 72 total career touchdowns.

Akeem Hunt ran for 85 yards and a touchdown for Purdue. The Boilermakers (3-3, 0-2), who were coming off a 44-13 loss to Michigan, travel to Ohio State next week.

The win gives Wisconsin a favorable position in the Big Ten’s Leaders Division, especially since Ohio State and Penn State cannot qualify for the conference title game because of NCAA rules violations.

There were plenty of empty seats at Ross-Ade Stadium, and that number grew as the rain and Wisconsin’s lead increased.

Purdue used three quarterbacks, and none were effective. Starter Caleb TerBush and backups Robert Marve and Rob Henry combined to miss on 20 of their 31 throws. They combined for 124 yards and were sacked five times. It took Purdue more than 17 minutes to get a first down in the second half.

Things started off well for the Boilermakers. Hunt returned the opening kickoff 44 yards, then TerBush hit Antavian Edison for 52 yards on the first play from scrimmage. TerBush’s quarterback sneak on the next play gave the Boilermakers a 7-0 lead 38 seconds into the game.

Wisconsin came back a few minutes later when Joel Stave hit Jacob Pedersen wide open for a 21-yard touchdown.

Ball scored from the 3 to give Wisconsin a 14-7 lead. A 30-yard field goal by Kyle French pushed the margin to 17-7 by halftime. The Badgers outgained Purdue 363 yards to 118 before the break, yet did not have firm control of the game.

Ball busted loose for a 67-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the second half to push Wisconsin’s lead to 24-7.

Beau Allen blocked a Purdue punt, and the Badgers took over at the Boilermakers’ 22. Ball scored again, this time from 3 yards out, to push Wisconsin’s lead to 31-7.

White scored from 14 yards out with 8:47 to play, and Wisconsin pushed its lead to 38-7.

Hunt finally gave the few remaining Purdue fans something to cheer about. His 81-yard touchdown run with 1:39 to play trimmed Wisconsin’s lead to 38-14.

 

Ohio State 52, Indiana 49

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