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| Big Ten News and Notes
The red teams came out smoking during the previousweek of action in the Big Ten Conference. Both Wisconsin and OhioState came away with big wins, thus ensuring their status in theupper half of the conference. Other teams have completely thrownin the towel and have come to realize their fate; a nice vacationat home during the month of December. The following will recapthe action during the previous week of play and preview what liesahead for teams with bowl aspirations.
The feature game turned out to be a dud as Wisconsindismantled Minnesota. The Gophers were never in this game as theyallowed touchdowns on the Badgers’ first four possessions of thegame. Minnesota should be embarrassed by this performance andit looks as if they can book their reservations for the MotorCity Bowl. When evaluating this team on the entire season, itis unimpressive with zero quality wins and losses against MichiganState and Indiana. Their defense in undersized and has troublestopping the run.
As my Wisconsin neighbors keep telling me, thisis one of the best Badger teams ever. I would still rate thembehind the 1993 team that won the Rose Bowl against UCLA. Thatteam was a little better on offense at the quarterback and tightend position. QB John Stocco played his best game of the seasonthrowing for 297 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions.Anthony Davis had a solid day on the ground rushing for 124 yardswith two touchdowns. This guy is an elite player, who, when healthyis the best running back in the conference. This was just utterdomination by Bucky and they could have taken the ax five minutesinto the contest.
Next up for the Badgers is a trip to East Lansing.The Spartans have been experiencing heart breaking losses allseason and I wonder how much they have left in the tank. The earlyline has the Badgers as a seven-point favorite and without QBDrew Stanton, I wonder if that will be enough. Can the Badgersplay a perfect game again? Minnesota has a home date with Iowaand their mind set going into this game will be a determiningfactor as to if we use this game as a selection. We will be incontact with our scouts all week long.
An exciting game took place in East Lansing lastSaturday. For those of you that saw the game it was obvious thatthe difference came down to one player, Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn scoredthree touchdowns including the go ahead score with 1:30 remainingin the fourth quarter. This fit right in with Buckeye wins ofyears past scoring points off their defense and special teams.Ginn returned a punt 60 yards to give the Bucks a 14-0 lead. MichiganState chipped away over the next three quarters and behind kickerDave Rayner took a 19-17 lead until Ginn came back with the longpass reception. This game was dominated by kickers as both ofthem were constantly hitting the net from 50-plus yards. Parlaythat with every kickoff going out of the end zone makes we wonderwhat was in those balls. Both Mike Nugget and Rayner will be all-conferenceselections and possibly be playing on Sunday next year.
Ohio State has turned around their season andwill be hitting Purdue at the right time. The Buckeyes come inas a five-point underdog, and this may be the side to take, becauseof the injury to QB Kyle Orton. Michigan State will host the Badgersand do have some weapons to possibly threaten the mighty defenseof Wisconsin.
When Penn State plays, one thing is certain: theywill not score ten points and the defense will become frustratedwith the offense. We thought about using the Lions as a selection,but thankfully decided not to go to war with a team that doesnot have an offense. Isaac Smolko made a great catch from QB ZackMills, to tie the game at seven late in the second quarter. Ifelt that the first team to score in the second half would winthis game and that came to fruition at the start of the fourthquarter when Noah Herron took it in from one yard out. State diddrive into Cat territory late but turned it over on downs andnever threatened again. This Penn State defense is good enoughto win the conference and their offense could not score on verymany high school teams. Expect Paterno to yell at more reportersduring his weekly press conference since he would much ratherdo that then answer the question as to why he has no offense.
Next up for Northwestern is a trip to Ann Arbor.The early tout has them as a 13 ½-point dog. Expect MichaelHart to have a field day in this one. State will travel to Bloomingtonand come in as a four-point favorite. Has not everybody learnedtheir lesson playing this team as a favorite? This team is nogood, but Indiana has been no good for ten years, so somethinghas to give. I think we will have the answer.
Without QB Kyle Orton, Purdue put up a valianteffort but came up short in Iowa City. The Hawks were in controlthroughout the game, but just could not put the Boilermakers away.Drew Tate had another solid performance throwing for 270 yards,two touchdowns, and one interception. Brandon Kirsch filled innicely for Orton with 280 yards and three touchdowns. I have towonder if it is the system and not the players that produce theseunbelievable statistics. Iowa still cannot run the ball at alland that will hurt them in their final two games. They are 7-2and possible one win away from a New Year’s Day Bowl Game.
Purdue has thrown in the towel and this team isway too talented to be playing this poorly. They also have abandonedthe run, rushing for just 52 yards in this game. In order to wingames in November, you must be able to run the ball and that isfinally catching up with the Boilermakers. This could not havehappened to a better team.
Purdue will host Ohio State and this is definitelywhat they need; a team that has trouble on offense scoring withthe football. Iowa will go up to the Metrodome and this is a placewhere they traditionally do not play well. Like Purdue, they willbe catching the Gophers at the right time. It should be quitea match-up with one team not being able to throw the ball andthe other team not being able to run the ball,
It took four overtimes, but the free picks liveon. This week we will again stay in the Mid-American Conferenceand go with Ball State -3 over Central Florida.
Max is a writer for www.docsports.com.