Doc's Big Ten News and Notes
The action was hard hitting and the scoring was low this past weekend in the Big Ten. Two underdogs won games straight-up and the big boys remained undefeated in conference play. As predicted, Michigan took care of Purdue and I believe they are still the team to beat in the conference. It is very likely that the Big Ten will once again receive two of the eight BCS bids and still have an outside chance of having a representative in the FedEx Orange Bowl. This following will recap last week's action and preview what lies ahead in the conference for teams playing next week.
Our Big Ten Game of the Year went down as Penn State lost to Iowa 6-4. If you would have told me that the Lions would hold the Hawks to six points, I would have already spent my money. Three of Iowa's points were a gift via a Zack Mills interception that gave them a first and goal at the 10-yard line. Zack Mills had a terrible game and finished 7 for 19 with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. He was removed from the game because of an injury and it did not really matter because his replacement Michael Robinson did not do much better. Penn State had a chance to get up on Iowa early after a punt was kicked out of the end zone. The Lions were up 2-0 and had a first and 10 on the Iowa 25-yard line. But this would be a common theme for them as they had the ball numerous times in enemy territory and could not muster any points at all. They missed chip shot field goals and turned the ball over five times. Mark my words, this team is finished and may not win a conference game this season. Their defense has to be furious with the offense and they will soon fall apart because they realize if they give up any points they will probably lose.
Iowa continues to improve and they have regrouped after a tough start to their season. They are well on their way to another bowl game and may be the last hurdle for Wisconsin's perfect season. Next up for the Hawks is a trip to Champaign. The oddsmakers have adjusted the line properly and have Iowa favored by ten points. Penn State goes to Columbus and comes in as a five-point dog. Is this enough points for a team with no offense? You tell me.
The feature game once again took place in West Lafayette and it was dejavu all over again for Purdue. Myself, being a big Michigan fan, could not of been happier to see Purdue blow a game yet again. The Wolverines dominated the first half, yet they only had a three-point lead. It looked like history would repeat itself as in the Notre Dame game. Purdue scored early in the third quarter on a 63-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones. This gave the Boilers a 14-10 lead and they appeared to be in control of this game. But Michigan dominated on the ground, rushing for 204 yards, but they just could not get the ball into the end zone. Kicker Garrett Rivas connected on two of three field goals and that give Michigan a 16-14 lead late in the game. Purdue moved the ball to midfield and only needed a field goal to win this game when they once again turned over the ball. Orton hit Dorien Bryant on a crossing pass and he broke free and headed into Michigan territory when he helicoptered into the air and fumbled the ball. Michigan recovered and that was all that she wrote for the Boilers.
Michigan freshman Michael Hart had a great game rushing for 206 yards and one defender just could not bring him down. Next up for the Wolverines is a home game with their in-state rival. Michigan comes in as a 12-point favorite and I feel this is a pretty solid line for such an emotional game. Purdue must regroup quickly as they travel to Evanston. The early tout has them as a 10-point favorite, but how much can they have left in the tank. Purdue has lost two emotional games, both of which they should have won. They are now 5-2 and just a .500 team in the conference.
Wisconsin celebrated their homecoming with a 24-12 victory over Northwestern. The score did not indicate the domination of the Wisconsin defense. The Badgers were up 24-0 before the Cats struck late. Anthony Davis had another solid day rushing for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Cat QB Brett Basanez once again struggled going just 16-37 for only 185 yards. In order for this offense to be effective, he needs a higher completion percentage. I have said all year long that this team will live or die based on his performance and right now they are dying. The schedule is looking very promising for the Badgers as all that they have left is a home game with Minnesota and trips to East Lansing and Iowa City. You heard it hear first, Iowa will keep the Badgers from perfection.
Wisconsin receives a bye next week and it could not come at a better time since many of their defenders have nagging injuries that will now have time to fully heal. Minnesota will come to Madison in two weeks and they should have their confidence back with two victories in a row. Northwestern will go home and face a reeling Boilermaker team.
Looking further into this game; like many of you I watched the game on ESPN. Former Irish Coach Bob Davie did the color commentary and is he not the worst announcer working for the network? A terrible coach, he is now trying to instigate something that passed with last week's Wisconsin/Purdue game. When interviewing injured DE Erasmus James, Davie criticized James for showing displeasure with the Purdue linemen for trying to break his legs. James had a right to be upset with the play since it cost him a shot at playing in this game. Davie just would not let it go and kept bringing it up throughout the game and basically blamed James for the entire situation. He definitely does not know the meaning of the word impartial and needs to just shut up and provide his pointless analysis.
Minnesota took care of business last weekend at the Metrodome against a weak Illinois team. I feel that if this had been their game following the Michigan disaster, they would have had time to regroup and gave a much better effort at East Lansing. Some early predictions for season awards go as follows. Offensive Player of the Year: Braylon Edwards. Defensive Player of the Year: Erasmus James.
Free Pick. Take Tulsa (PK) over Rice.