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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2012 Big Ten Championship

Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

nebraska1vs. wiscbadgers1

by Kevin DeBartlo and Prez Ro

November 30, 2012

No. 14 Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) vs. Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4), 8:17 p.m. Saturday (Fox)

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WHAT’S AT STAKE
In short, the winner will play in the Rose bowl against whoever wins tonights Pac-12 championship game.

Nebraska, Legends Division champion, defeated Wisconsin in their first matchup in September, 30-27.

Wisconsin gets to play for a third straight Big Ten championship by default because the teams ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division, Ohio State and Penn State, are ineligible. Click here to see the trophy…

KEY MATCHUP
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball vs. Nebraska defense. The Badgers’ 1,500-yard rusher accounts for almost 35 percent of the Badgers’ offense. If Ball gets going, QB Curt Phillips will be more effective with play-action passes and Wisconsin will keep Nebraska’s high-powered offense on the sideline longer. The Huskers held Ball to 2.8 yards a carry in the first game. But Ball has been on a roll lately, and Nebraska is without defensive line anchor Baker Steinkuhler because of injury.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nebraska: RB Rex Burkhead, a 1,300-yard rusher a year ago, returned after a four-game injury layoff to spark the Huskers in the second half against Iowa last week. The Badgers rank second in the Big Ten against the run, but Penn State’s Zach Zwinak dented the Badgers for 179 yards last week. The fresh-legged Burkhead coupled with Ameer Abdullah give Nebraska a formidable 1-2 punch.

Wisconsin: Phillips is the Badgers’ third starter this season, and the question is how he will respond to the championship-game atmosphere. Phillips has completed just 52 percent of his passes and has been sacked nine times in his three starts. To his credit, he led fourth-quarter comebacks against Ohio State and Penn State, but the Badgers lost those games when he failed to move the offense in overtime.

FACTS & FIGURES
Wisconsin is designated as the home team for the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Huskers are in their third conference championship game in four years. They lost Big 12 title games to Texas in 2009 and Oklahoma in 2010.

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Ohter fun notes thanks to the fine folks at ESPN Stats & Info…

football_icon_small1Nebraska gives up 152.2 pass yards per game, the fewest in the FBS this season. Two reasons for the Cornhuskers’ success are they do not allow many yards after the catch and they do not allow downfield completions. They rank second among all BCS automatic-qualifying schools in yards after the catch allowed per game (54.2), and they lead the Big Ten in fewest completions allowed (22) on passes thrown 15 yards or longer.

football_icon_small1Wisconsin and Nebraska represent two of the winningest programs in the nation over the past four seasons. Wisconsin has the FBS’ 11th-best win percentage since the start of the 2009 season at .750 (39-13), while Nebraska ranks 13th at .736 (39-14).

football_icon_small1Huskers sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell has caught six of Taylor Martinez’s nine touchdowns on passes thrown 15 yards or longer this season, the most such touchdowns for any Nebraska player in the last nine seasons.

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football_icon_small1Nebraska has fumbled 32 times this season, with its opponents recovering 20, the second most in the FBS. Martinez has the most fumbles (14) in the FBS this season. It is the third straight season that he had the most or tied for the most fumbles in the FBS.

football_icon_small1Wisconsin is converting 33.5 percent of its third downs this season, tied for 104th in the FBS. Last season, the Badgers led the FBS in third-down conversion percentage (52.2). One difference has been in the passing game. Wisconsin is completing 45.5 percent of its third-down passes, tied for the eighth-lowest percentage in FBS. The Badgers led the nation in third-down completion percentage last season (71.7).

football_icon_small1On designed running plays this season, Martinez is averaging a career-high 7.6 yards per rush against Big Ten opponents. That is three yards per carry more than last season. Martinez had 90 yards on eight such runs in the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin, including two runs that gained 20 yards or more.

football_icon_small1The nation’s top tackler over the past two seasons with 265 total stops, Wisconsin senior linebacker Mike Taylor has averaged 18.6 tackles in two career games against Nebraska. He had a career-high 22 tackles last season and totaled 15 stops in the teams’ Sept. 29 meeting in Lincoln.

football_icon_small1According to STATS LLC, Nebraska’s four second-half double-digit comebacks in 2012 not only lead the nation, but represent one of just four times since 1996 that an FBS team has posted as many as four double-digit second-half comebacks. North Carolina State had six such comebacks in 2000, while NU is one of three with four comebacks. The four second-half double-digit comebacks in 2012 are also the most in school history.

football_icon_small1Wisconsin has lost just 11 turnovers on the season, matching Iowa for the fewest in the Big Ten and tying for the fourth-fewest nationally. Only Ohio (8), Pittsburgh (8) and Kansas State (9) have fewer giveaways than UW this season.

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football_icon_small1With 18 touchdowns on the year, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is the first player to lead the Big Ten in scoring in three consecutive seasons since at least 1939. •Nebraska has defeated a team twice in a season only three times in school history. In 1891, Nebraska and Doane College met three times, with the Huskers winning two of those games. In 1894, Nebraska defeated the Omaha YMCA twice, while Nebraska also defeated Nebraska Wesleyan twice in 1896. The Huskers beat Wisconsin 30-27 on Sept. 29 in Lincoln.

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