Tag:Illinois
Posted on: October 22, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 6:16 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Purdue 21, Illinois 14

Posted by Adam Jacobi

PURDUE WON. A late rally by No. 23 Illinois wasn't enough to erase a 21-0 deficit, and Purdue came up with a 21-14 upset victory. Caleb TerBush was efficient in victory, completing 16 of 25 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns -- his best passing performance against an FBS opponent so far this season.

WHY PURDUE WON: Although it wouldn't be fair to take anything away from the Purdue defense, the truth is that Illinois blew this game. The offense was mostly flat for three quarters, Ron Zook punted from midfield or Purdue territory three times, backup QB Reilly O'Toole threw an interception deep in Purdue territory, and Illinois blew a scoring opportunity at the end of the half by throwing a lateral and struggling for yardage as the clock ran down to one second left, then spiking the ball after the clock hit 0:00 on the next snap. That's plain poor game management, and it's enough to lose a game. 

WHEN PURDUE WON: After Nathan Scheelhaase took a QB keeper in from two yards out, Illinois needed a great onside kick to keep its hopes alive. Kicker Derek Dimke's effort was fine; the ball took a high bounce and got 10 yards on the correct angle. It's just that nobody for Illinois thought to look for the ball. Justin Siller corraled the kick with nobody near him and could have taken off with it, but he was content to hit the ground and preserve possession. With only one timeout left, Illinois couldn't get the ball back from Purdue, and that was that.

WHAT PURDUE WON: This was a huge win for a Purdue team that finds itself on the edge of bowl contention this year. With the victory, Purdue finds itself at 4-3 with five games left -- four of which come against teams that were 2010 bowl teams (and are likely 2011 bowl teams). Moreover, the win over a Top 25 team is going to be huge for program morale at a time when the Boilermakers could use it the most.

WHAT ILLINOIS LOST: Not only are Illinois' hopes at a division championship basically out the window, but so is the team's spot in the Top 25 -- and so is its confidence. Whatever mojo Scheelhaase had at the beginning of the year is basically gone; even though he led the team to two late touchdown drives, those drives took up so much time that Illinois just didn't have enough time to have a chance to complete the comeback.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Everything about Illinois' offensive performance was crazy -- and not the good, fun kind. It takes an unusual coach to be at 6-2 in the Big Ten and still on the hot seat, but it appears Ron Zook might be on the verge of accepting that challenge.

Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:26 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 8

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom. 

We hope you've starved yourself this week because you're going to need plenty of room in your stomach to get through this week's menu, and although we can't promise you anything featuring streaking referees and fighting, we're sure you'll find these meals as fulfilling just the same.

BREAKFAST

Missouri vs. #4 Oklahoma State - FX, 12pm ET

On paper this one may not seem all that interesting, but Missouri is yet to lose at home this season, and let's not forget that the Tigers knocked off Oklahoma in Columbia last season. It's possible that the Tigers could end another school from Oklahoma's title hopes again this Saturday. Of course, it won't be easy considering the offensive firepower that the Cowboys will be bringing with them. - Tom Fornelli

#7 Clemson vs. North Carolina - ESPN, 12pm ET

Clemson survived their first trap game on the road, marching back from 18 down against Maryland to prove - for the moment - this Tigers team is for real.  Now they have a chance to return to the comfy confines of Death Valley for one last warm-up before traveling to Atlanta for arguably the toughest challenge left on the conference schedule in Georgia Tech.  North Carolina doesn't run the option, but they do have a terrific ground game led by redshirt freshman Gio Bernard.  Bernard has been sensational for the Tar Heels, and ranks third in the ACC with 109.57 yards per game.  The Tigers, on the other hand, are one of the league's worst defenses against the run. North Carolina's defense has been beaten on the perimeter this season, and their weakness in the secondary will likely be their downfall with no answer for Sammy Watkins and DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins.  - Chip Patterson

Purdue vs. #23 Illinois - ESPN2, 12pm ET

This game will be worth your attention. Bold statement, but it's true. Here's the deal: if Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins get their game back up, you'll want to watch, because that's the best QB-WR combination in the Big Ten. And if Scheelhaase and Jenkins get bottled up like last week, look out, because we might have an early upset on our hands, and those are a fun way to start a Saturday. See? Win-win scenario all the way. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#1 LSU vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET

So Auburn has a defense with some success against LSU-style offenses, the host Tigers won't have Tyrann Mathieu or Spencer Ware, and the game's being played in bright, Death Valley-neutralizing sunlight. It's too bad Auburn is sending Clint Moseley out for his first career start at quarterback, or Gene Chizik's bunch could have made a real game of this. (if Moseley is a revelation? They still might. - Jerry Hinnen

#5 Boise State vs. Air Force - Versus, 3:30pm ET

Is there anybody left on Boise State's schedule that can knock the Broncos off? Maybe, but odds are that it won't happen this week as Air Force makes the trip up north to play on the blue turf. Still, even if Boise is likely to win this game, tuning in to see the Broncos playing a home game is seldom a choice to regret. - TF

Miami vs. #22 Georgia Tech - ESPN, 3:30pm ET

Miami turned the corner against Virginia Tech, and has been playing some of their best football of the season in the last three quarters.  But they welcome a Georgia Tech team that got beat around by Virginia last week, and will be looking for a bounce back victory.  This game is a must-win for the Yellow Jackets if they plan on competing for a Coastal Division title, and a must-win for the Hurricanes to establish some kind of momentum in a frustratingly inconsistent season.  If Miami wants to pull the upset, they need to get Lamar Miller going on offense.  A good rushing attack will keep Paul Johnson's pounding offense off the field, and after Miller was held to 29 yards against UNC last week he's due for a big game. - CP

DINNER

#2 Alabama vs. Tennessee - ESPN2, 7:15pm ET

The drama and intrigue in this edition of the "Third" Saturday in October positively abounds: can the Vols score a touchdown? Can Trent Richardson break the 200-yard mark? Will Nick Saban decline to score a final humiliating touchdown out of respect for his old assistant, Derek Dooley? Has Smokey finally been fitted for the retina-protecting dog goggles (or "doggles") required by repeated visual exposure to Dooley's pants? (The actual and inevitable outcome, that we're not so intrigued by.) - JH

Notre Dame vs. USC - NBC, 7:30pm ET

One of college football's greatest rivalries gets a bit of a twist this season. For the first time in history, Notre Dame will be playing a night game in South Bend. Can Touchdown Jesus see in the dark? Also, emerging victorious could help catapult the winner back into the rankings, and for Notre Dame a win keeps its slim BCS hopes alive. - TF

#3 Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech - ABC, 8pm ET

This game features two offenses that both come into the game averaging more than 43 points a game, so if you're looking for a shootout to spend your evening with, this will likely be your game. The question will be if Seth Doege and the Texas Tech offense can still have as much success against an Oklahoma defense that's better than any other it has faced this season. - TF

#8 Stanford vs. #25 Washington - ABC, 8pm ET

Andrew Luck and Stanford haven't played a ranked team all year but that will change with Washington rolling into Palo Alto. The Huskies, with quarterback Keith Price and running back Chris Polk, will present a test for the stiff Cardinal defense that is missing a few key defenders. Of course, Luck has to be licking his chops to face the Pac-12's worst pass defense. - Bryan Fischer

#16 Michigan State vs. #6 Wisconsin - ESPN, 8pm ET

This could be the Big Ten's last, best hope to see Wisconsin get knocked off before the championship game -- and MSU just lost its top DE Will Gholston to a Big Ten-mandated suspension for punching Taylor Lewan last Saturday. Whoops! The rest of the Spartan defensive front is fierce, though, and perhaps we'll finally be able to see what happens when an opponent challenges Wisconsin for all four quarters this year. Perhaps. - AJ

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Washington State vs. Oregon State - Fox Sports, 10:30pm ET

Oregon State is off to their worst start in years and Mike Riley and company are looking to turn things around while seeking revenge against a Washington State team that upset them last year and cost them a trip to a bowl game. The Cougars have been competitive in the first half of their last two games but the question is if they can finish against OSU. - BF
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 5:25 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 8



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

This could be the week that makes or breaks all of us. After spending a month trying to catch The Woman in this race, she's pulled away the last few weeks and taken a two-game lead once again. I'd be concerned about this in any other week, but this week things are different.

The spreads this week are insane.

When they were first released there were 20+ point spreads everywhere I looked. I trimmed them down to the ten games that were the most, shall we say, sane, but still, there's not a lot of confidence between Woman and I in our picks this week. When the spreads are like this, you may as well be flipping  a coin, but I'm not introducing that aspect until next season.

Syracuse vs. West Virginia (-13 1/2) - Friday, 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - The thing that drives me insane about the Big East is that every week the team that is supposed to be the best team in the conference loses to somebody they have no business losing to. Thankfully, I'm confident that West Virginia is a team that knows what it should be doing and will do it. Pick: West Virginia

Woman - "No way Syracuse is going to surprise West Virginia two years in a row. Not even a raised eyebrow." Pick: West Virginia

Machine - The Machine must be a big fan of Dana Holgorsen's skullet and Geno Smith, as the Mountaineers blow up the Carrier Dome 51-17. Pick: West Virginia

Missouri vs. Oklahoma State (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I know that Oklahoma State's defense isn't exactly wonderful, but the Missouri offense has been so inconsistent this season that I just don't see any way that it can keep up with the Cowboys. Even if Missouri's defense can slow the Cowboys down a bit, I just don't think it'll be enough. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "Yes, the Cowboys are playing stellar ball and you'd think this would be another step in their march toward BCS glory.  But Mizzou is 3-0 at Faurot Field and its three losses have been close ones against good teams. Make assumptions about Missouri folk at your own peril." Pick: Missouri 

Machine - The Machine sees a pretty close game for three quarters before Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon have a party in the fourth quarter and pull away late. Cowboys win 40-24. Pick: Oklahoma State

Clemson (-10 1/2) vs. North Carolina - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Considering the way that Clemson has a habit of making things really close for three quarters before finally pulling away, this point spread does scare me a bit. That being said, North Carolina doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in me, and since Clemson is at home I'll put my faith in the Tigers. Pick: Clemson

Woman - "To be honest, I know virtually nothing about Tar Heel football.  I expect that will still be true on Sunday." Pick: Clemson

Machine - The Machine sees the annual rite of Clemson blowing up taking place this week as North Carolina wins 24-17. Pick: North Carolina

Kansas vs. Kansas State (-12 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Somewhat odd that Kansas State goes from being an underdog every week against teams it's better than to nearly a two-touchdown favorite, but Kansas has just been that bad. Also, let's not forget that Kansas State beat Kansas 59-7 last season and I don't think last season's Kansas State team is as good as this version. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "I have created (and by created, I mean, found) a very special Sunflower Showdown Emo tribute for the Jayhawks to be played directly following the game. Enjoy." Pick: Kansas State 

Machine - Game recognize game, and The Machine recognizes Bill Snyder's likely stoppable killing machine, but it won't be stopped in Lawrence. Kansas State wins 31-13. Pick: Kansas State

Purdue vs. Illinois (-5 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - This spread seems a bit too easy to me. In my opinion, gamblers are overreacting to what Illinois did against Ohio State last week and what Purdue did against Penn State. Penn State's offense is terrible enough to keep Purdue in a game, and the Boilermakers have been beaten pretty bad this year by teams that spread it out. In Zook I trust! Pick: Illinois

Woman - "It's hard to shake the memory of the Illini's cringe-worthy outing last week but bottom line, they're a better team than the Boilermakers. Purdue will play the best game of its season and keep it close, but not that close." Pick: Illinois

Machine - The Machine seems to think that Ron Zook is going to have a lot of questions to answer this week as Purdue knocks off the Illini 21-3. Pick: Purdue

LSU (-22 1/2) vs. Auburn - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - I don't want to pick against Les Miles. I really, really, really don't. Still, without the Honey Badger and Spencer Ware, I'm just not as confident in LSU's ability to cover that spread. Will the LSU defense smother a quarterback making his first career start for the third straight week? Of course it will, but will the LSU offense cover more than three scores? Probably, because I'm picking against Les and must be punished for it. Pick: Auburn

Woman - "Yeah, LSU will win but given the news that three of its top players have been suspended, I think that line may be a bit stout." Pick: Auburn

Machine - The Machine is not a fan of three touchdown spreads for LSU offenses without its leading rush, as LSU wins 17-10. Pick: Auburn

Miami (-3 1/2) vs. Georgia Tech - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - I had been pretty high on Georgia Tech before last week, but man did the Ramblin' Wreck get exposed by Virginia last weekend. That plus the fact that Jacory Harris is actually playing pretty well for Miami makes me lean toward the home side here. Pick: Miami

Woman - "When I think of the NCAA and scholar athletes, these two schools leap immediately to mind, especially Hurricanes' DL Micanor Regis and his groundbreaking work on the physics of balls - please skip to minute five for Micanor's powerful research.  Unfortunately, Micanor got so deep into his studies last weekend, he'll have to miss this game, which gives the 6-1 Wrecks a leg up." Pick: Georgia Tech

Machine - The Machine sees Miami getting up early, and a Georgia Tech playing from behind is not a very good Georgia Tech to bet on. Hurricanes win 28-17. Pick: Miami

Northwestern vs. Penn State (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 7pm

Man - As I mentioned in the Illinois/Purdue pick, Penn State's offense is terrible. It's defense has been great, but it's also faced mediocre offenses all season save for Alabama, and we all remember how that went. So with Penn State going on the road I have to go with the team that's getting the points. Pick: Northwestern

Woman - "Northwestern stems the bleeding from three straight losses and Dan Persa gets to show his newly bald head around campus again." Pick: Northwestern

Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine sees Pat Fitzgerald's team getting its act together this week and beating Penn State 30-17. Pick: Northwestern

Michigan State vs. Wisconsin (-8 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - We're nearly in November and Wisconsin is leaving Madison to play a football game for the first time all season. Wisconsin will also be facing an offense that I feel can move the ball on a defense that hasn't really faced much of a test this season. I don't know that Michigan State is going to win this game, but I do know that they're going to keep it closer than anybody else has against the Badgers this season. Pick: Michigan State

Woman - "Everyone's talking about how 'emotional' this game will be.  After the third quarter, quietly emotional." Pick: Wisconsin

Machine - Well, we're going to have one less unbeaten to contend with after this weekend. Michigan State wins 24-20. Pick: Michigan State

Stanford (-20 1/2) vs. Washington - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Every week I toy with the idea of picking against Stanford because the spread seems so large, and then every week I end up picking Stanford anyway and the Cardinal cover. So why change up a formula that's working? Pick: Stanford

Woman - "I get all excited about the Huskies impressive 2011 season and then I remember last year's game against the Cardinal.  41-0. 41-0. 41-0. Did I mention 41-0?" Pick: Stanford

Machine - Andrew Luck for President. Stanford destroys Washington 48-10. Pick: Stanford

Standings

Season Record (Last week)

1. Woman 47-28 (6-4)
2. Man 45-30 (5-5)
3. Machine 38-37 (4-6)
Posted on: October 18, 2011 5:42 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 3:02 pm
 

Eye on College Football Midseason Report: Big Ten



Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's been one heck of a year in the Big Ten's first go at a 12-team lineup, and if there's anything close to a certainty after the first seven weeks of play, it's this: Wisconsin is really, really good. The Russell Wilson free agent acquisition purely academic-based graduate school enrollment decision has worked out beautifully for the Badgers, who are currently rolling toward, at worst, a Rose Bowl berth.

With that, let's get onto the superlatives for the year thus far. There was plenty of competition every step of the way, and truth be told we could have handed out some ties on a lot of these categories, but if college football fans wanted ties we wouldn't have overtime, so here we go.

Offensive Player of the Year: Russell Wilson, Wisconsin. This was a tough, tough call, especially with Denard Robinson over in Ann Arbor putting up huge numbers against tougher competition, but the fact is that Wilson has exceeded nearly every expectation set for him at Wisconsin, not only from the standpoint of his offense's prodigious production but also his own level of play. Yes, Wisconsin's schedule has been cake so far. But offensive player of the year isn't a question of RPI, it's a question of production, and Wilson's systematic dismantling of Nebraska's once-vaunted defense proved the Badgers are capable of running it up on anybody. Also considered: Denard Robinson, Michigan; A.J. Jenkins, Illinois; Montee Ball, Wisconsin

More Midseason Coverage
Related links

Defensive Player of the Year: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois. Illinois is a surprising 6-1 right now, and that start has been primarily responsible to not only the heady play of QB Nathan Scheelhaase, but the Illini's imposing front seven. Leading that charge is defensive linemanWhitney Mercilus, who leads the nation in sacks per game and ranks fourth in TFLs (TsFL if we're being super-accurate), and has been that disruptive force on the defensive line that folks generally thought Illinois wouldn't have after Corey Liggett decided to go pro after 2010. Also, his name sounds like "Merciless," and that's an even better name for a defender than former Iowa linebacker Pat AngererAlso considered: Lavonte David, Nebraska; Mike Martin, Michigan

Coach of the Year: Ron Zook, Illinois. This award is usually a euphemism for "team that overachieves the most," which is the only reason why Jim Tressel didn't win it year after year despite Ohio State mashing its opponents to pulp. But truly, Ron Zook deserves recognition for what his players have accomplished so far, even after three stars declared early for the NFL. Illinois wasn't supposed to be good. It is good. That doesn't happen in football despite a coach. Not at this level. It happens because of a coach, and that's why Ron Zook deserves recognition so far this year. Also considered: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin; Brady Hoke, Michigan

Surprise: Michigan. The consensus among Big Ten media was that whileBrady Hoke was the right hire and Denard Robinson was the conference's most dynamic playmaker, the Wolverine's latest ascension to Big Ten prominence was at least a year away. Not so, as the Wolverine defense has looked surprisingly adept thus far as Michigan has stormed to a 6-1 record early. They could use a bit of help in the Big Ten race, but not as much as you'd think, and this Wolverine offense might be the only one in the Big Ten that can keep pace on the scoreboard with Wisconsin if the championship comes down to those two teams. Also considered: Illinois

Disappointment: Ohio State. Everybody knew difficulties were coming once Jim Tressel resigned and Terrelle Pryor was sent packing, but Ohio State has always prided itself on an overall talent advantage against everybody else in the Big Ten, and that advantage has yet to manifest itself this season. OSU has been throttled by Miami and shut down by Michigan State, and even when the Buckeyes were spotted a late 21-point lead at Nebraska they couldn't seal the deal. Perhaps last week's win over previously unbeaten Illinois is a sign of things to come, but for now, it looks like OSU is just lucky to be over .500 on the season, and that is stunning. Also considered: Nebraska; Minnesota; Northwestern  

Game of the Year (so far): Notre Dame at Michigan. Was this a pretty game? Lord no, not for one second of the contest's 60 minutes or the fans' three and a half hours. Was it an exciting game? Of course it was, and it leads off our list of the best games of the year in the Big Ten. For three quarters, Notre Dame looked like it was snuffing Michigan out, holding a 24-7 lead headed into the final stanza. Then Denard Robinson came alive, erupting for four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and even an Irish touchdown with 30 seconds left proved to be too much to leave the Wolverines as Michigan marched 80 yards down the field in just three plays and scored the game-winning TD with two seconds left. Pandemonium ensued, and Michigan fans had to be asked (politely) by police to leave the stadium after the win. Now that's the way to host your first home night game ever. Also considered: Ohio State at Nebraska; Nebraska at Wisconsin 

Game of the Year (to come): Wisconsin at Michigan State. Excepting the first Big Ten Football Championship Game in league history (aside from all the de facto championship games between Michigan and OSU, anyway), the game of the Big Ten's regular season actually takes place this weekend as Wisconsin travels to the only team that beat the Badgers last year and the team that has the last, best shot of upending them this year: Michigan State. Past that, games against OSU, Illinois, and Penn State loom for Bucky, but those team look like Wisconsin roadkill until proven otherwise. Also considered: Nebraska at Michigan; Ohio State at Michigan

Legends Division Champion: Michigan State. MSU took a huge step forward from its early-season loss to Notre Dame by not only beating Michigan, but doing so in a very important way: beating the Wolverines on the ground. Sparty was pushed around on both sides of the ball against ND, which seems very un-MSU this year, and the Spartans' cakewalk of a schedule from here until last week precluded any definitive assessments of the team's actual merit. The dismantling of Denard Robinson's offense and MSU's active defensive attack were both better than we've seen out of any Wolverine opponents this year, and both factors portend well for the upcoming Michigan State-Nebraska matchup.Also considered: Nebraska; Michigan

Leaders Division Champion: Wisconsin. It's going to take multiple upsets to take the Badgers out of contention for the Leaders Division crown, and a team that steamrolls its opponents on such a consistent basis doesn't usually make itself available for those types of losses. This bodes poorly for everybody else on the Badgers' schedule. Also, Montee Ball looks like he's going to set records when it comes to touchdowns, as the talented junior has racked up 18 (16 rushing, 1 receiving, 1 passing) in just six games. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Also considered: Illinois

Big Ten Champion: Wisconsin. It has to be Wisconsin until anybody can demonstrate an ability to bottle the Badger attack, and no defenses thus far have so much as demonstrated an ability to take either the run or the pass out of the Badger offense. And if you can't stop the conference's most prodigious rushing offense from even passing, you're not really playing defense, you're just praying. And let's be honest: that's terrible advice for anyone who wants to see his team take the conference crown this year. Also considered: Michigan State, but only to be sporting about it

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 



Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:11 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:51 pm
 

College Football Podcast - Week Seven Review

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Michigan, Georgia Tech and Illinois go down, but Kansas State just keeps on winning. We try to make sense of it all. How much will Marcus Lattimore's injury impact the Gamecocks? How much blame does Will Muschamp deserve? How good are those Oregon backups? We answer these questions and break down every big game from Week Seven. Our thoughts on incredible performances from Sammy Watkins, Trent Richardson, the Michigan State defense and more. 

Here's a direct link to the podcast if you're on a device without Java, and here's a link to a popout player if you're inclined to listen in a different window. Otherwise, just hit play below and you're all set.

If you'd lke to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes and you haven't yet, what's keeping you? Click here for the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast's iTunes page

Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:21 am
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 7

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches) 

4/4. Wisconsin

Once again, Wisconsin is ranked fourth in the nation, and I'm not entirely sure the Badgers are ever going to move higher. The winner of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State will likely deserve a spot in the Top 3, and really, there's no stone-cold guarantee that the loser of LSU-Alabama will drop to 4th or lower if the game is close. Fortunately, Wisconsin's resume will get a much-needed boost in the coming weeks as the Big Ten slate kicks into high gear.

13/11. Nebraska

I continue to believe that Nebraska is playing with house money at this point, and Jared Crick's season-ending injury will probably hasten the Huskers' impending fall down the polls. At the same time, though, if they keep up this first-half pace and go 10-2 on the season, sure, this would be a fine ranking -- maybe even too low. Alas, however, there are no more Wyomings, Fresnos State or Chattanoogae on the schedule, only Big Ten opponents. So it'll be fun to see how Nebraska adapts to the grind of the conference slog.   

15/13. Michigan State

Michigan State shouldn't get too comfortable here, because a home date with Wisconsin looms this Saturday, and there's probably going to be substantial movement one way or another afterward. At any rate, though, I think the Spartans proved that they belonged somewhere around here on Saturday with that convincing victory over the Wolverines. Also, it'll be nice to see the Badgers provided with an opponent who can keep the game within 31 points. MSU will stay within 31 of Wisconsin, right? Right???

18/17. Michigan

I've been trying to tell you guys all year long that the second half of the season portended doom for Michigan. Heed my words! This is a good ranking for the Wolverines, though, and they'll have opportunities to earn their way higher in the polls (where basically everybody after No. 10 is eminently beatable). I'm at least going to back off on my fears that Michigan will go 1-5 down the stretch, MSU loss be damned; the Wolverines are good enough to beat Iowa at Kinnick, and I can't imagine that both Nebraska and Ohio State will be able to come to Ann Arbor and leave victors.

Still, though, if anyone was curious how to beat Michigan this year, MSU just put together a fantastic blueprint on how, and there'll be a lot of defensive coordinators watching that tape for the rest of the year.

23/21. Illinois

No getting around it: that was a brutal loss for Illinois to take on Saturday. Everything that people hate about Ron Zook-coached teams came out, from the silly play-calling to the back-breaking errors to the fact that OSU literally ran over 90% of the time and Zook still wasn't putting 10 people in the box on every snap. 23rd best team? Sounds about right.

NR/22. Penn State

Okay, fine. Penn State is 6-1, so we should acknowledge that fact right alongside the eye-gouging badness of Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. That defense is legit, and Silas Redd is starting to come into his own after a slow start to the year. The schedule from here on out is brutal, though, with Saturday's night date at Northwestern being the easiest of the bunch. So here's the lousy part for PSU: being that the Nittany Lions are currently 26th or 22nd (I choose 26th because to hell with the coaches poll), if they go 2-3 from here on out, they're not going to be anywhere near the Top 25. And yet, they'll have finally earned it. That's win-go-up, lose-go-down polling for you, State fans! Enjoy!

Also receiving votes: Penn State (130 AP votes), Everybody Else In The Conference (not one single vote, not even from the blasted coaches poll, and that is okay with me)

Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 7



Posted by Adam Jacobi


WINNER: The general order of the universe as we knew it in the spring. Michigan State beat Michigan, Ohio State beat Illinois, Wisconsin beat Indiana, Iowa beat Northwestern, and Penn State beat Purdue. All normal ideas for the casual Big Ten fan during the off-season, more or less. Yet those first two results are rather surprising, because it was Michigan and Illinois coming into the week undefeated and ranked 16th or higher, not MSU or OSU. On Saturday, the Spartans and Buckeyes looked like the teams we figured they'd be coming into the year, though, and in a way so did the Wolverines and the Illini. 

Michigan State's victory was the most impressive of the week (sorry, Wisconsin), because nobody has bottled up the Michigan offense like that this year (more on the particulars in a second). After Notre Dame thwacked the Spartans in Week 3, it was fair to wonder if Michigan was also about to run up 30+ points and shut down the MSU rushing attack. Neither happened, and the Spartans are now all of a sudden back in beautiful shape for the Big Ten Legends Division race -- just like we figured before the season. 

LOSER: Those do-everything quarterbacks I was so proud of last week. So, Taylor Martinez had the week off, so he's off the hook. Denard Robinson and Nathan Scheelhaase, though? Last week, the two QBs averaged 267 yards passing, 102 yards rushing, and four TDs in their team's victories. Extrapolate those types of numbers over 12 or 13 games, and you've got a Heisman finalist.

Extrapolating single games out for a year is stupid, though, because on Saturday, those numbers dropped substantially. Scheelhaase threw for 169 yards and rushed for 49 more, while Robinson's numbers were a dismal 9-24 for 123 yards passing (one TD) and 18 rushes for 42 yards (another TD). Not surprisingly, both QB's teams lost by double digits. It's certainly fine to have a do-everything quarterback helming your offense, but that just means it's imperative that that quarterback actually puts big numbers up; if he doesn't, that team's in real trouble.

WINNER: Illinois' pass defense. Wow, the Illini held Ohio State to 17 yards on Saturday! That's quite an accomplishment! Yep, 17 yards on 1-4 passing. But wait... if the Buckeyes only passed four times for the entire game, then that means... uh-oh.

LOSER: Illinois' rush defense. Oh, there's the rest of the story. Ohio State rushed 51 times to the four passes, totalling 211 yards on the ground, and Dan Herron led the way with 113 yards in his first game back from suspension. Honestly, Illinois' effort on defense wasn't bad, and holding OSU to 4.1 yards a pop on the ground isn't really cause for panic, but this was an Illini rush defense that had been ranked ninth in the nation coming into the week, averaging 2.3 yards per carry given up. The Illini front seven had a reputation to uphold, and it didn't do a great job of it. 

WINNER: Somehow, inexplicably, Penn State. Penn State is 6-1 and on the verge of being in the Top 25. That is amazing news to anyone who has watched Penn State play, because the Nittany Lions are, at times, bafflingly bad on offense. The QB rotation between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden continues to confound PSU fans, the rushing game comes and goes, and Penn State has now beaten the foursome of Temple, Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue by a grand total of 25 points. This team should not be 6-1, but there's no "should" column next to wins and losses.

The latest victory is a 23-18 decision over hapless Purdue, a game that should have been tied in the 4th quarter at 20-all if Purdue hadn't missed a PAT then missed a 2-point conversion to make up for the missed kick. Now, to be fair, Purdue never led, PSU never let Purdue manage so much as a first down after the game was 20-18, and the game ended with Penn State up 5 and taking knees inside the Boilermaker 10 yard line, but it was still another ugly, wretched affair all around. And yet just like the 4-point win over Temple and the 6-point win over Indiana, Penn State just did all it needed for the victory, and nothing more. Hey, a win's a win.

LOSER: Mark Dantonio's reputation as a disciplinarian. It seems like every season, fans are treated to anecdotes about what a great coach Mark Dantonio is, and how high his standards of player discipline are. "Zero tolerance" are his words, not ours. And it also seems like every season, there's an instance of Dantonio basically punting on discipline with his star players, like with Chris L. Rucker rejoining the team immediately after serving an 8-day jail sentence, or B.J. Cunningham taking part in a massive brawl on campus and missing one game as a result.

With that in mind, then, it's really not surprising to see star DE Will Gholston allowed to stay in a game after he punched Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (who, to be fair, had been holding Gholston's head on the ground earlier in the play). It was Gholston's second personal foul of the afternoon, with the first being a combination of a late hit and a face mask on Denard Robinson. The Big Ten may very well intervene and keep Gholston out for next week's game against Wisconsin, but the fact that Dantonio kept Gholston in the game after both incidents speaks far, far louder than Dantonio's claims of "zero tolerance."

WINNER: The Iowa athletic department. Before today's game, the fans at Kinnick Stadium were all given two-sided cards for one of those old-fashioned card stunts. The end result was really, really cool, and don't be surprised to see more of this type of thing around college football stadiums nationwide in the next few years or so. 

LOSER: Iowa's Northwestern demons. For years, the Hawkeyes have struggled mightily against Northwestern, sometimes even at the expense of BCS bowl dreams.  All in all, coming into today, Iowa had lost five of its last six against the Wildcats -- and the last four losses featured double-digit Hawkeye leads.

So when Iowa ran up a 17-0 lead on Saturday, then watched the Wildcats string together drive after drive to tie the game up at 17-17, it was only natural for Hawkeye fans to think, "here we go again." Fortunately for the home crowd, Iowa responded with 17 straight points of its own, and held on for the 41-31 victory. The win pushes Iowa to 4-2 (1-1) on the year, and with Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all looming on the schedule, this win was crucial to the Hawkeyes' hopes for securing another winning season.


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Posted on: October 15, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 10:53 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Kansas State 41 Texas Tech 34

Posted by Tom Fornelli

KANSAS STATE WON. Kansas State used some smoke and mirrors to beat Texas Tech on Saturday night, and by smoke and mirrors I mean special teams and turnovers. Texas Tech actually outgained the Wildcats 569 yards to 341 on the night, including a 388 to 94 advantage at halftime, but it didn't matter. Kansas State won thanks to two blocked field goals, a kick return for a touchdown, and 4 turnovers by Seth Doege. One of which was a pick-six by Nigel Malone only 37 seconds into the game. The result of all this was Kansas State's first win in Lubbock since 2000, and bowl eligibility after only six games.

WHY KANSAS STATE WON. As I said above, it was special teams and turnovers. What really killed Texas Tech on Saturday night, though, was that three of Doege's turnovers came on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter. All three came in Texas Tech territory, and although Kansas State was only able to get 7 points out of them, it was the points those turnovers kept off the board for Texas Tech that made the difference.

WHEN KANSAS STATE WON. After kicking a field goal with 2:32 left to cut Kansas State's lead to 41-34, Texas Tech recovered an onside kick to keep hope alive. Unfortunately the Red Raiders couldn't go anywhere, and when Doege's pass to Aaron Crawford on 4th and 4 fell incomplete the Wildcats just had to run out the rest of the clock.

WHAT KANSAS STATE WON. On a day when a few surprise unbeatens like Michigan, Illinois and Georgia Tech all suffered their first loss of the season, Kansas State survived a tough road test. With a game against Kansas next weekend, which is a rivalry game that may not be as easy as you'd think, there's a strong chance that Kansas State will be hosting Oklahoma in Manhattan in two weeks with both teams undefeated.

WHAT TEXAS TECH LOST. This could have been a big win for Texas Tech following last week's home loss to Texas A&M, but the Red Raiders just beat themselves in the fourth quarter. Now Tommy Tuberville's team is off to a 1-2 start in the Big 12 with road games against Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, plus a game against Oklahoma State still left on the schedule. Those two wins that Tech needs to get to a bowl game aren't going to come easy.

THAT WAS CRAZY. As great as Kansas State's special teams units were in this game, with the two blocked field goals and the kick return, they also made some dumb mistakes. A missed extra point and failure to recover an onside kick could have cost Kansas State the game.
 
 
 
 
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