Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: October 27, 2010 9:50 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:54 am
 

Kevin Sumlin emerging as Minnesota frontrunner?

Posted by Chip Patterson

While Minnesota interim head coach Jeff Horton has his hands full this week preparing the Golden Gophers for their conference matchup with Ohio State, athletic director Joe Maturi and the rest of the Minnesota administration are busy trying to narrow the list of coaching candidates.  Several high profile names were tossed around initially (Dungy, Leach), but the one that is gaining steam is current Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported early Wednesday morning that there was "lots of love being thrown Kevin Sumlin's way all of the sudden."  Of all the active coaches on the Golden Gophers' radar, Sumlin is one of their most high profile options.  He has only in his third season as a head coach, but his Division I coaching career goes back almost two decades.  

There are several factors that make Sumlin seem like a great fit at Minnesota. Maturi has already stated that the next Golden Gophers head coach needed to "get Minnesota," and Sumlin served as an assistant at Minnesota from 1993-1997.  Sumlin's staff at Houston also has Minnesota connections, with assistant head coach Tony Levine a former Gophers WR and Minnesota native.  He is already getting endorsements from the Gophers football community, most recently from former offensive line coach Gordy Shaw.

Sumlin appears to be a great fit for Minnesota, and a much more favorable option to throwing a ton of money at an inactive coach.  At 46, Sumlin still has a lengthy career ahead and with all of the personal connections to the area (his wife is a native as well), could be interested in setting up shop for the long term.

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Posted on: October 26, 2010 5:54 pm
 

Big Ten Rose Bowl update, Week 9

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Probably no team, aside from involved parties, was happier to see Iowa fall to Wisconsin last weekend than the Michigan State Spartans. With that game in the books, Michigan State is now the only undefeated team in Big Ten play, and even if MSU loses to Iowa this weekend, it doesn't need a whole lot of help to get to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season. So here's how each team that's plausibly in the Rose Bowl race can make it there this season.

Michigan State can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • MSU wins out;
  • MSU loses one game, but wins the rest AND Ohio State loses OR MSU is still ranked higher than OSU in the BCS rankings after the regular season.

Wisconsin can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Wisconsin wins out AND MSU loses at least two games.

Iowa can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Iowa wins out AND Wisconsin loses at least one more game

Ohio State can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • OSU wins out AND Michigan State loses twice OR Michigan State loses once and the loss pushes MSU below OSU in the final BCS rankings.

Purdue can go to the Rose Bowl if...

  • Pretty much every other Big Ten team is declared ineligible

Posted on: October 26, 2010 2:44 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Paterno not sure who his starting QB will be

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the Michigan Wolverines may know who they will have lining up under center against Penn State this weekend, the same cannot be said for the Nittany Lions.  Robert Bolden suffered a concussion during Penn State's victory over Minnesota last week and had to be replaced by former walk-on Matt McGloin.

As of now Bolden's status for Penn State's game against Michigan is up in the air, as Joe Paterno is still waiting to see what the doctors have to say about Bolden.  Still, if you're going to force him to give you an answer, he's guessing Bolden won't be ready.

"[The medical staff] tested him Sunday and he still had memory problems," Paterno told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . "They are going to test him again [Wednesday}.

"But, if you ask me, if I had to guess, he won't be able to make it. I don't want to take any chances. I just don't know."

It's nice to see that Paterno doesn't want to take any chances with a freshman quarterback coming off of a concussion.  Personally I don't care what the doctors tell me, if I'm Bolden's coach, he's getting a week off.  The question is who will replace him?  McGloin took over for Bolden on Saturday and threw a couple of touchdowns, but he only completed 6-of-13 passes and also threw an interception.

Which is probably why he's sharing snaps with Kevin Newsome in practice this week.

Posted on: October 26, 2010 1:19 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Denard Robinson will play against Penn State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Just three weeks ago Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was the greatest thing to ever capture college football.  We were all ready to hand the sophomore the Heisman Trophy after only five games, and it is hard to blame us for feeling that way.  Things Robinson was doing on the football field were just insane.

Things have changed a bit since then, however.  Michigan has lost its last two games and Robinson has had to deal with being banged up, allowing Cam Newton to grab that Heisman Trophy from Robinson's grasp.  Still, after having the weekend off thanks to a bye, Rich Rodriguez has proclaimed his one-man army to be totally healthy and ready to blow our minds again.

“Every guy approaches (injury) a little bit differently,” Rodriguez told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s a very tough-minded individual, a tough guy. If our guys are injured, they need to let us know and, most of the time, the trainers let us know. Some guys can tolerate a little more pain than others. Denard can tolerate a lot of pain. His issue with the last ballgame wasn’t the knee, it was the shoulder. It just needed some rest. He needed some rest and ... we got that last weekend.”

This is good news for Michigan, as they remain only a win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the first time under Rodriguez, and Penn State is a beatable opponent these days, even in Happy Valley.  Illinois was able to hand the Nittany Lions a loss at Beaver Stadium earlier this year, and did so courtesy of a ground attack led by Mikel LeShoure and Nate Scheelhaase.   If Scheelhaase can get 61 yards on the ground in only 8 carries, then you have to think Robinson can have the type of game that could place him back in the Heisman hunt.

Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:57 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Davey O'Brien semifinalists announced; no Persa?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback, announced its 16 semifinalists for the award today. The list is as follows, in alphabetical order:

 

  • Matt Barkley (Soph.), USC
  • Kirk Cousins (Jr.), Michigan State
  • Andy Dalton (Sr.), TCU
  • Blaine Gabbert (Jr.), Missouri
  • Robert Griffin III (Soph.), Baylor
  • Landry Jones (Soph.), Oklahoma
  • Colin Kaepernick (Sr.), Nevada
  • Andrew Luck (Jr.), Stanford
  • Ryan Mallett (Jr.), Arkansas
  • Taylor Martinez (Fr.), Nebraska
  • Kellen Moore (Jr.), Boise State
  • Cam Newton (Jr.), Auburn
  • Terrelle Pryor (Jr.), Ohio State
  • Denard Robinson (Soph.), Michigan
  • Ricky Stanzi (Sr.), Iowa
  • Darron Thomas (Soph.), Oregon

 

All in all, this is a pretty thorough list of the quarterbacks who might end up being the top quarterback in the nation once December rolls around, but it certainly does seem as if there was one glaring omission: Northwestern sophomore Dan Persa . Persa currently leads the nation in completion percentage, is eighth in passing efficiency  and is fifth in total offense . Oh, and Persa also leads his team in rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (six) -- each by pretty substantial margins over the nearest teammate.

Of course, it certainly merits mention that Northwestern is currently on a two-game losing streak, and that the Wildcats hadn't really beaten anyone of merit before the streak either. But in the Wildcats' losses to Michigan State and Purdue -- neither of whom have lost a Big Ten game yet, for what it's worth -- Persa was hardly "at fault" for the losses; he averaged 281 yards of total offense in the two games and scored four touchdowns to just one turnover.

It's hard to say who should be bumped for Persa's sake, though; every one of the top 16 semifinalists has a legitimate claim to deserving some sort of accolade. It's also worth pointing out, however, that until Missouri and Oklahoma faced each other this past weekend, Dalton, Gabbert, and Jones were all quarterbacking undefeated teams, and that's probably the only reason they're on the list; Jones and Gabbert, in particular, aren't even close to the top 16 of passing efficiency in the nation (34th and 39th, respectively). None of the three are terribly gifted runners, either, while Persa's been forced to anchor the woeful Northwestern ground game.

Of course, the O'Brien Award probably wants to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even nominate a title contender's quarterback as a finalist, and with two conference losses, it's extremely unlikely that Northwestern will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, much less make a run at a spot in the Top 10. Persa and his Wildcats aren't high-profile, and that's enough to leave him off this list. Inclusion's academic either way, since this is clearly Cam Newton's to lose, but it'd be nice to see a quarterback like Persa rewarded for putting together one hell of a season so far even when he doesn't have the supporting cast to win 11 games in a season.


Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:43 pm
 

Suspended MSU CB jailed for violating probation

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan State cornerback Chris Rucker was a crucial piece of the Spartans defense until he violated his probation by operating a vehicle while intoxicated earlier this month.  Head coach Mark Dantonio quickly issued an indefinite suspension for the senior, who was already on probation for his involvement in an on-campus fight less than a year ago.  

While his Spartan teammates spend the week preparing for one of the biggest games of the season at Iowa, Rucker is with his new teammates at Ingham County Jail.  East Lansing District Court Judge David Jordon said Rucker pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving, and will be released on Thursday after serving an eight day sentence.  He also received two additional years of probation as part of the plea agreement.  

The Spartans have moved on without Rucker on the field, and Dantonio has them focused on defending their undefeated record in Iowa City on Saturday.  The jailing should not serve as a major personnel issue on the field or off-field distraction for Michigan State, though it is unfortunate for Rucker.  He was a preseason All-Big Ten selection, and had already started his senior season with strong performances against Notre Dame and Wisconsin.  

Rucker's role with the football program in the future is yet to be determined, and Dantonio is not expected to address the issue until his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

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Posted on: October 25, 2010 10:52 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
 

Terrelle Pryor still bitter about Wisconsin loss

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Watching Ohio State take Purdue behind the woodshed on Saturday afternoon, one thing became clear during the 49-0 shellacking: the Buckeyes were angry about losing to Wisconsin.   Unfortunately for Purdue, it was the one who had to deal with the consequences of Ohio State's frustrations.

Which is exactly what you would want to see from a team after suffering a loss and possibly destroying any hopes it had of playing for a national championship.  It's nice to see it keeping a chip on its shoulder, and using that chip as motivation for the rest of the year.

Still, I'm not sure Terrelle Pryor should have gone here following the Purdue game.

"Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all - I really don't want it to come off like this - but they weren't better than us," said Pryor. "Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we'd beat Wisconsin."

Actually, Terrelle, I don't know that at all.  From what I saw of Wisconsin's win that night, they pretty much dominated the Buckeyes up front.  It's not a fluke for an offensive line to continually blow one of the best defensive lines in the country off the ball, and open huge holes for John Clay to thunder through.

Now, maybe things would have been a bit different had the game been played in Columbus, but to me, it seemed obvious that in Madison, Wisconsin was the better team that night.

Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 10:43 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 23)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. You're going to have to knock Sparty out. The Michigan State Spartans, even sitting at 7-0 entering this week's trip to Northwestern , weren't exactly strangers to adversity. They trailed Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. They gave away all kinds of points in turnovers against Wisconsin . Their offense sputtered for a half against both Michigan and Illinois . Their head coach had missed time with multiple ailments including a freaking postgame heart attack.

But in football terms, none of that quite matched trailing the Wildcats 17-0 on the road midway through the second quarter this afternoon. The Spartans were lucky it wasn't worse, as Northwestern had fumbled a certain touchdown at the 1 and had both run the ball and stopped the MSU run with impunity. No matter: the Spartans turned to quarterback Kirk Cousins and their excellent receiving corps, and responded with an immediate touchdown. Just a few minutes into the second half, it was 17-14. A fake punt helped keep them within 24-21. And two touchdowns in the game's dying minutes gave them a 35-27 win . They just never stopped coming.

The lesson -- as the lesson has been all season with the Spartans -- is that you'd best put your boot on Sparty's throat when you get the chance. If you let them stay upright, their offense is too balanced and their confidence too high for them not to overtake you eventually. Just ask the Wildcats.

2. Iowa's fourth-quarter mojo is missing. A year ago, Ricky Stanzi was unstoppable in the final period , and the Hawkeyes rode his arm to a perfect 10-0 record in games he started and finished. Four of those wins came by a teeth-skinning total of eight points, with several others blown open by the Hawkeyes in the fourth after three evenly-played quarters. In short: no team in America was more clutch.

In its five wins so far this year, Iowa hasn't needed any of those heroics, winning by an average of 23 points. But twice in 2010 the Hawkeyes have found themselves in fourth-quarter struggles, and in neither case have they come up with the plays that made 2009 so special. Against Arizona , it was a collapse on the offensive line that led to a series of game-ending sacks. Against Wisconsin today , it was the Iowa special teams and defense that allowed the Badgers to drive 80 yards in 7:29 with the game on the line, eventually giving up the winning touchdown to Badger backup Montee Ball . The Badgers converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive, one on a fake punt deep in their own territory.

And this time, with barely more than a minute to work with, Stanzi wasn't able to pull off the miracle drive for the win. As they say: what a difference a year makes .

3. Move along: there's nothing to see in Minneapolis. Playing at home after the embarrassment of having its coach fired midseason, Minnesota allowed the previously moribund Penn State offense -- and "moribund" is being kind -- to rack up 145 rushing yards and 33 points in a comfortable 12-point win , all without injured starting quarterback Robert Bolden . We knew that the next Gopher head coach was by far the biggest question surrounding the program; after a performance like Saturday's, it's fair to call it the only question.

4. The Big Ten is one game away from total chaos. Or total boredom. Wisconsin looked utterly lost in East Lansing in Week 5, but after massive wins against Ohio State at home and now Iowa on the road, it's fair to say the Badgers have their usual ground-pounding attack operating at maximum efficiency. The Buckeyes made clear Saturday they're not going anywhere, obliterating Purdue 49-0 . And as painful as their come-from-ahead loss Saturday may have been, Iowa has just the one conference loss and is all the more dangerous for having been stung by its setbacks to date.

Meaning that if Michigan State falls in Iowa City this coming Saturday, no less than four of the Big Ten's powers could be tied at the top of the conference standings with a single loss, with only one game -- Iowa against Ohio State -- still to play between the four of them. The mind reels at the tiebreakers.

The flip side is that if Michigan State wins in Iowa City, to sit at least a game up on the rest of the field ... with head-to-head tiebreakers over the Hawkeyes and Badgers in hand ...  no game scheduled against Ohio State ... and only dates against Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State remaining ... you might as well go ahead and pencil the Spartans in for Pasadena, or something even greater.

So, Michigan State at Iowa: the game of the Big Ten's season? Yes, Michigan State at Iowa, the game of the Big Ten's season.
 
 
 
 
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