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Doc's Big Ten News and Notes by Max
The red teams came out smoking during the previous week of action in the Big Ten Conference. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State came away with big wins, thus ensuring their status in the upper half of the conference. Other teams have completely thrown in the towel and have come to realize their fate; a nice vacation at home during the month of December. The following will recap the action during the previous week of play and preview what lies ahead for teams with bowl aspirations.
The feature game turned out to be a dud as Wisconsin dismantled Minnesota. The Gophers were never in this game as they allowed touchdowns on the Badgers' first four possessions of the game. Minnesota should be embarrassed by this performance and it looks as if they can book their reservations for the Motor City Bowl. When evaluating this team on the entire season, it is unimpressive with zero quality wins and losses against Michigan State and Indiana. Their defense in undersized and has trouble stopping the run.
As my Wisconsin neighbors keep telling me, this is one of the best Badger teams ever. I would still rate them behind the 1993 team that won the Rose Bowl against UCLA. That team was a little better on offense at the quarterback and tight end position. QB John Stocco played his best game of the season throwing for 297 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. Anthony Davis had a solid day on the ground rushing for 124 yards with two touchdowns. This guy is an elite player, who, when healthy is the best running back in the conference. This was just utter domination by Bucky and they could have taken the ax five minutes into the contest.
Next up for the Badgers is a trip to East Lansing. The Spartans have been experiencing heart breaking losses all season and I wonder how much they have left in the tank. The early line has the Badgers as a seven-point favorite and without QB Drew Stanton, I wonder if that will be enough. Can the Badgers play a perfect game again? Minnesota has a home date with Iowa and their mind set going into this game will be a determining factor as to if we use this game as a selection. We will be in contact with our scouts all week long.
An exciting game took place in East Lansing last Saturday. For those of you that saw the game it was obvious that the difference came down to one player, Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn scored three touchdowns including the go ahead score with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. This fit right in with Buckeye wins of years past scoring points off their defense and special teams. Ginn returned a punt 60 yards to give the Bucks a 14-0 lead. Michigan State chipped away over the next three quarters and behind kicker Dave Rayner took a 19-17 lead until Ginn came back with the long pass reception. This game was dominated by kickers as both of them were constantly hitting the net from 50-plus yards. Parlay that with every kickoff going out of the end zone makes we wonder what was in those balls. Both Mike Nugget and Rayner will be all-conference selections and possibly be playing on Sunday next year.
Ohio State has turned around their season and will be hitting Purdue at the right time. The Buckeyes come in as a five-point underdog, and this may be the side to take, because of the injury to QB Kyle Orton. Michigan State will host the Badgers and do have some weapons to possibly threaten the mighty defense of Wisconsin.
When Penn State plays, one thing is certain: they will not score ten points and the defense will become frustrated with the offense. We thought about using the Lions as a selection, but thankfully decided not to go to war with a team that does not have an offense. Isaac Smolko made a great catch from QB Zack Mills, to tie the game at seven late in the second quarter. I felt that the first team to score in the second half would win this game and that came to fruition at the start of the fourth quarter when Noah Herron took it in from one yard out. State did drive into Cat territory late but turned it over on downs and never threatened again. This Penn State defense is good enough to win the conference and their offense could not score on very many high school teams. Expect Paterno to yell at more reporters during his weekly press conference since he would much rather do 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 Michael Hart to have a field day in this one. State will travel to Bloomington and come in as a four-point favorite. Has not everybody learned their lesson playing this team as a favorite? This team is no good, but Indiana has been no good for ten years, so something has to give. I think we will have the answer.
Without QB Kyle Orton, Purdue put up a valiant effort but came up short in Iowa City. The Hawks were in control throughout 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 in nicely for Orton with 280 yards and three touchdowns. I have to wonder if it is the system and not the players that produce these unbelievable statistics. Iowa still cannot run the ball at all and that will hurt them in their final two games. They are 7-2 and possible one win away from a New Year's Day Bowl Game.
Purdue has thrown in the towel and this team is way too talented to be playing this poorly. They also have abandoned the run, rushing for just 52 yards in this game. In order to win games in November, you must be able to run the ball and that is finally catching up with the Boilermakers. This could not have happened to a better team.
Purdue will host Ohio State and this is definitely what they need; a team that has trouble on offense scoring with the football. Iowa will go up to the Metrodome and this is a place where they traditionally do not play well. Like Purdue, they will be catching the Gophers at the right time. It should be quite a match-up with one team not being able to throw the ball and the other team not being able to run the ball,
It took four overtimes, but the free picks live on. This week we will again stay in the Mid-American Conference and go with Ball State -3 over Central Florida.