Doc's Big Ten News and Notes
The action went up a notch this past Saturday in the Big Ten as many of the powerhouses squared off against one another. There were competitive games throughout the afternoon with many of them going right down to the wire. The conference is starting to take shape and the battle for Pasadena has come down to a three-team race. Next week the feature game takes place in West Lafayette with two undefeated teams squaring off. The following will take a look at the highlights from the previous week and preview a very important upcoming week.
Our Top Play went into the books as a win as Penn State stayed with Purdue the entire game, losing 20-13. State had numerous chances to win the game but quarterback Zack Mills could not make a play down the stretch. Kyle Orton had his worst game of the season throwing for only 275 yards and two interceptions. The Lions defense played outstanding but for the second straight week their offense could not muster anything on the ground. State finished the game with 18 yards rushing and in the second half of this game Purdue really sat on the pass. Mills did a terrible job of clock management during the fourth quarter and this cost his team a chance for victory. Numerous times he threw the ball in front of the chains and I believe Joe Paterno has him so afraid to make a mistake that he is not willing to take any chances at all. This type of play will certainly led to problems down the road.
Next up for Purdue is a showdown in West Lafayette against the Badgers. Purdue comes in as a seven-point favorite and you will be hearing from us on this game. The Lions will have a bye then will be at home against Iowa. This may be their best chance for a win in conference play. If they do not win this game, it may be 0-8 and how long can the administration put up with this?
An early afternoon contest took place in the Big House and for 58 minutes the road team was in control of the game. Minnesota had a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter but the Wolverines were persistent in this game and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a pass to Tyler Ecker from Chad Henne. Minnesota ran the ball for nearly 200 yards but just could not put Michigan away. QB Henne threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns and he continues to improve as the season goes on. The loss virtually eliminated the Gophers from the Rose Bowl picture and I will be interested to see how they will respond in their next contest. This was a damaging loss for them as this team had definite visions of a Big Ten Title. As bad a loss as it was for Minnesota, it was as big of win for Michigan. They still have visions of a National Title and that dream is not dead yet.
Next up for Michigan is a road contest in Champaign. The Wolverines come in as 17-point favorite and it will be interesting to see how they react after a big emotional win at home. Minnesota will stay in the same state next week traveling to East Lansing, giving about one touchdown. A good start is a must for them in this contest or you could witness a snowball effect for their season.
A thrilling game that surprised me took place in Evanston. Indiana stayed with the Cats the entire game and wound up losing the game in double overtime but easily covered the double-digit spread. This is another development of a team playing sloppy after coming off an emotional win the previous week. How can a team that beat the Buckeyes the previous week and struggle in a game against a team with zero conference wins? It happens a lot in college football and a smart player will take advantage of the situation. Teams think they are better then what they are and do not pay as much attention to detail during practice and it usually comes back to haunt them. Luckily for the Cats it did not cost them the game. Noah Herron ran wild on the ground running for 197 yards and three touchdowns. He is making a strong case for all-conference and is definitely the Wildcats most dangerous weapon. Hoosier Quarterback Matt LoVecchio played outstanding in defeat throwing for 329 yards on three touchdowns but could not match the touchdown score in the second overtime. Indiana is still playing hard and I do not expect them to roll over much this season despite being out manned at nearly every position. Northwestern still has visions of a bowl game but work is needed if they plan on returning there.
Next up for Indiana is a bye then a trip to Columbus. The Buckeyes lack of offense may allow the Hoosiers to stay in the game. The Cats also have a bye then go on the road to Madison. They are coming off a big win last season against Wisconsin, and always seems to play them tough up North. We will be keeping an eye on both of these games in two weeks and will likely have a play on one of them.
The feature game in the conference took place Saturday afternoon in Columbus. It started off as expected being a defense struggle. The Buckeyes dominated field position in the first quarter and when Wisconsin was punting deep in their own territory Ted Ginn returned the kick 65 yards for a touchdown. The Bucks continued to dominate the field and kicked another field goal to take a 10-0 lead. That would be the end of the Buck's domination in this game as Wisconsin scored the next two touchdowns. Mike Nugent did his usual thing and blasted a 55-yard field goal at the end of the first half and that would prove to be the Buckeye's last points of this game. Anthony Davis dominated the entire second half and finished the game with a 168 yards rushing. The Badgers capped off their performance with a brilliant catch by Jonathon Orr in the corner of the end zone and once they got up two scores it was lights out, game over. State QB Justin Zwick had numerous chances to make plays but could not hit his wide receivers in stride. I wonder how much longer Coach Tressel will stick with him if he continues to be unproductive. The win by Bucky sets up the showdown next week in Purdue.
Ohio State will again have the featured game Saturday afternoon in Iowa. This game comes in as a pick and the first team to amass 100 on offense might win this game. Iowa is coming of a bye and has played better of late.
Looking ahead to next week, the free pick has to be Maryland over NC State. We will be gunning for our fifth straight win on the free pick. That's it for this week.