Tag:Northwestern
Posted on: September 9, 2011 9:33 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 9:33 am
 

Boston College RB Harris (knee) ruled out for UCF

Posted by Chip Patterson

Boston College got off to a rocky start in their season opener, turning the ball over on downs twice in the fourth quarter on the way to a 24-17 loss to Northwestern. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Montel Harris sat out the contest as he continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery. Harris told reporters he hoped he could be ready for the trip to face UCF this Saturday in primetime, but Frank Spaziani ruled the star running back out on Thursday.

Harris spent two days practicing in pads this week, but sat out on Thursday. His replacement, sophomore Andre Williams, looked sharp in Harris' absence and will be called on to step up again. Williams totaled 114 yards on 22 carries with a pair of touchdowns, but was unable to help as the Eagles offense constantly faced 2nd and 3rd downs with long distances on their fourth quarter drives.

The Eagles have battled health issues all fall, and things got immensely worse for the offense with wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Wildcats. The 6-foot-6 senior had eight catches for 157 yards in the opener, leading many to believe he could be that go-to answer sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig never had in 2010.

Boston College will take on UCF at 8 p.m. in Orlando. You can tune in to the game on CBS Sports Network or stream it here at CBSSports.com.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:15 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Baylor

Really coaches? Excuse me, really sports information directors voting for the coaches? I understand you might have a few concerns about Baylor after letting TCU back into the game but that's no excuse for keeping the Horned Frogs in the poll (#25) while leaving the Bears out (#26). Would hate to have something to compare the two teams in some way... like say their head-to-head match up last week.

Overrated: Auburn, Texas, Florida

All three won this past weekend but the competition each faced was mediocre and Auburn barely managed to get a win. Each team is in the coaches poll but at least the AP voters got things right and dropped the defending national champs out. Well, some did that is. Fox-1370 Radio's Rob Long and Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo both put the Tigers at 16th, which makes me want to pull what little hair I have out. 25? Sure. 16? No. And shame on WATE-TV's Jim Wogan who had the Gators as a borderline top 10 team and ahead of Texas A&M and Nebraska.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

Week one and we're going to look at Wilner with an eyebrow raised. First off, Jon is very nice and has been on top of the recent realignment rumors from the Pac-12 angle. But he's got a ballot that is way out there. First off, Virginia Tech and Arkansas are unranked, he has West Virginia, BYU, Georgia, Air Force and Hawaii ranked higher than anyone. No argument with having Texas A&M at #4 but Northwestern at #18 might be a stretch too.

What were you thinking? USF

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette is a funny guy on twitter (@Hlas) but perhaps he needs to adjust his voting habits. USF was fifth despite Notre Dame doubling their yardage and the win coming by three in a rain-shortened game. And don't forget that the team you ranked sixth, Baylor, allowed 48 points and were flagged 11 times for 116 yards worth of penalties.

#1 in your heart: Boise State

Just four teams received #1 votes this week, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama and Boise State. Can't attack anybody for that given each's performance this week but it still might be a stretch to put the Broncos on top. Wolf and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Tom Murphy were the two who were championing the team from the blue turf.

Come on man: Boise State

At the same time we're on some for having Boise State too high, my colleague over at SI.com Andy Staples has State ranked lower than anybody at 12th. You get points back for comparing the Broncos to the fantastic TV show Freaks and Geeks but get on the bus with everybody else Andy! You can probably discuss why the team should be where you ranked them better than anybody in the country but that doesn't mean you won't land on this list for putting the team as low as you did. Perhaps we'll run into each other and can discuss over some barbecue or Chick-Fil-A

Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:30 pm
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 1

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It wasn't a terribly eventful week in the Big Ten. The most notable opponent anybody in the conference played in Week 1 was Boston College, who was felled by Northwestern in a 24-17 thriller. Other than that, Indiana lost to Ball State in a game that had precisely zero effect on the polls, and everybody else not named Purdue more or less rolled to victory.

[MORE: View full AP rankings here, and Coaches rankings here.]

Accordingly, there wasn't much movement in the polls this week, since wins over cupcakes don't often stand out as reasons for voters to bump teams up a notch or two, and well, there were a lot of cupcakes in Big Ten play in Week 1. Onward!

(AP/Coaches)

8/9. Wisconsin 

For as much as I grouse about the "win go up lose go down" mentality of voters, I have to hand it to the AP for pushing Wisconsin not just past Oregon, but above fellow winners Nebraska and Oklahoma State after Week 1; both teams led the Badgers in the preseason poll. Unfortunately, no such push happened in the Coaches Poll, where Wisconsin only passed up Oregon. Objectively, this ranking is a sham, because Wisconsin would definitely beat Texas A&M (one spot above Wisconsin in both polls) on a neutral field, and they would give Boise State and Stanford mountains of hell. This is a bad ranking. Let's fix it already.

10/10. Nebraska

The Huskers didn't look quite on Wisconsin's level, or much better than any number of high-major programs that smacked their cupcake opponents around, but polling entropy being what it is they stay more or less put. That's fine, I guess, but it's terribly boring. We have small sample sizes! Let's abuse them!

15/15. Ohio State

Ohio State looked like a team that belonged a lot higher in the polls in its opening week performance against Akron, and the voters responded; OSU went up three spots in the AP and one in the Coaches. The upcoming battle with Miami doesn't exactly have the teeth it used to, but the likely OSU romp in that game ought to improve the Buckeyes' standing in voters' minds anyway. The real fun begins in October, though, when Luke Fickell's boys host the next team in the rankings in the conference opener.

17/16. Michigan State

That next team in the rankings is Michigan State, who didn't put together a very sharp performance in Week 1 as it beat Youngstown State 28-6. The Spartans' road to glory is already fraught with peril (though the road date with Notre Dame doesn't look quite as daunting as it did a week ago), so a quick start to this weekend's matchup with woeful Florida Atlantic should help convince voters that the MSU offense does actually match the hype.

23/20. Penn State

The Nittany Lions made a big splash with their easy dismantling of Indiana State in season-opening action. Splashes don't have much effect on the ocean, though, and wouldn't you know it -- the Tide's coming in to Happy Valley this week. Suffice it to say, PSU's either going way up or way down in the rankings after facing Alabama.

Others receiving votes:

Northwestern (40 AP votes, 30 Coaches votes), Iowa (29 AP votes, 44 Coaches votes), Michigan (17 AP votes, 15 Coaches votes).
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:30 pm
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 1

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It wasn't a terribly eventful week in the Big Ten. The most notable opponent anybody in the conference played in Week 1 was Boston College, who was felled by Northwestern in a 24-17 thriller. Other than that, Indiana lost to Ball State in a game that had precisely zero effect on the polls, and everybody else not named Purdue more or less rolled to victory.

[MORE: View full AP rankings here, and Coaches rankings here.]

Accordingly, there wasn't much movement in the polls this week, since wins over cupcakes don't often stand out as reasons for voters to bump teams up a notch or two, and well, there were a lot of cupcakes in Big Ten play in Week 1. Onward!

(AP/Coaches)

8/9. Wisconsin 

For as much as I grouse about the "win go up lose go down" mentality of voters, I have to hand it to the AP for pushing Wisconsin not just past Oregon, but above fellow winners Nebraska and Oklahoma State after Week 1; both teams led the Badgers in the preseason poll. Unfortunately, no such push happened in the Coaches Poll, where Wisconsin only passed up Oregon. Objectively, this ranking is a sham, because Wisconsin would definitely beat Texas A&M (one spot above Wisconsin in both polls) on a neutral field, and they would give Boise State and Stanford mountains of hell. This is a bad ranking. Let's fix it already.

10/10. Nebraska

The Huskers didn't look quite on Wisconsin's level, or much better than any number of high-major programs that smacked their cupcake opponents around, but polling entropy being what it is they stay more or less put. That's fine, I guess, but it's terribly boring. We have small sample sizes! Let's abuse them!

15/15. Ohio State

Ohio State looked like a team that belonged a lot higher in the polls in its opening week performance against Akron, and the voters responded; OSU went up three spots in the AP and one in the Coaches. The upcoming battle with Miami doesn't exactly have the teeth it used to, but the likely OSU romp in that game ought to improve the Buckeyes' standing in voters' minds anyway. The real fun begins in October, though, when Luke Fickell's boys host the next team in the rankings in the conference opener.

17/16. Michigan State

That next team in the rankings is Michigan State, who didn't put together a very sharp performance in Week 1 as it beat Youngstown State 28-6. The Spartans' road to glory is already fraught with peril (though the road date with Notre Dame doesn't look quite as daunting as it did a week ago), so a quick start to this weekend's matchup with woeful Florida Atlantic should help convince voters that the MSU offense does actually match the hype.

23/20. Penn State

The Nittany Lions made a big splash with their easy dismantling of Indiana State in season-opening action. Splashes don't have much effect on the ocean, though, and wouldn't you know it -- the Tide's coming in to Happy Valley this week. Suffice it to say, PSU's either going way up or way down in the rankings after facing Alabama.

Others receiving votes:

Northwestern (40 AP votes, 30 Coaches votes), Iowa (29 AP votes, 44 Coaches votes), Michigan (17 AP votes, 15 Coaches votes).
Posted on: September 6, 2011 5:25 pm
 

A Big 10 team in SEC country is not quite as rare

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Yesterday, my colleague Bryan Fischer posted the last time each of the SEC teams had made a trip to Big Ten country for a road game. The results, while not surprising, were still pretty brutal: six had never faced a Big Ten team as an active member of the SEC, and of the three programs that had made the trip in the last 30 years, two are perennial doormats Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and the last is LSU -- a 36-33 loser to Ohio State in 1988. Not a good look for the mighty SEC powerhouses, but such is their strategy, and it's hard to argue with results: avoiding the Big Ten hasn't stopped the SEC from winning championship after championship, so who's the real sucker here?

Still, some fans wanted to know the other side of the story, namely, whether the Big Ten was also filled with scaredy-cats who are afraid to face the SEC on its own turf. Clearly, this hypothesis is false, as the Big Ten plays multiple bowl games a year against the SEC in the SEC footprint, and has done so for decades. On the other hand, the SEC does not go to any bowl games within the Big Ten footprint, though I've lived in the Midwest for 30 winters now, and I do not blame the SEC for staying down there come December and January. It sucks up here.

However, there is still the question of regular season scheduling and whether the Big Ten does any of that, since we're talking about true road games in the regular season. So here's the breakdown, and while it's more ambitious than the SEC's m.o., that's not saying a whole lot.

 Illinois

at Florida, September 23, 1967, lost 14-0

 Indiana

at Kentucky, September 18, 2004, lost 32-51

 Iowa

Never played at an SEC school.

 Michigan

Never played at an SEC school (did play at Kentucky, Vanderbilt and South Carolina prior to each's SEC affiliation).

 Michigan State

at Kentucky, November 2, 1946, lost 14-39 (Michigan State did not join the Big Ten until 1953)

 Minnesota

Never played at an SEC school.

 Nebraska

at Auburn, October 2, 1982, won 41-7 (Nebraska did not join the Big Ten until this year, obviously)

 Northwestern

at Vanderbilt, September 4, 2010, won 23-21

 Ohio State

at LSU, September 26, 1987, tied 13-13

 Penn State

at Alabama, September 11, 2010, lost 3-24

 Purdue

at Vanderbilt, October 3, 1942, lost 26-0

 Wisconsin

at LSU, September 30, 1972, lost 27-7

Obviously Iowa and Minnesota have some 'splainin' to do, but by and large we see a somewhat greater -- or at least more recent -- willingness from the Big Ten to travel down south for a non-conference game. The average year of the SEC's last games at Big Ten schools is 1963 (not including Tennessee), while the Big Ten's is 1980 (again, not including nonparticipants Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota). That's still an average layoff of 31 years, which is way too long -- or at least it would be without the several bowl games between the two conferences -- but the SEC is the clear conference of wimps and shrinking violets when it comes to scheduling.

But again, that all said, it doesn't matter. the SEC doesn't need road games with the Big Ten to win championships; if anything, the elite of the conference have figured out that it's not worth their time to risk early losses in the non-conference schedule. Voters don't really care about strength of schedule next to good old wins and losses -- if they did, LSU wouldn't still be ranked behind Alabama (victors over Kent State) and Oklahoma (who really took it to Tulsa, which, yeah) even after pantsing Oregon as badly as it did. See? Huge win, barely made a difference. Win go up, lose go down. That's all polling boils down to, the SEC knows it, and the SEC gets its wins however it can. They know the system. You can't blame them for that.

Of course, it's nothing to be really proud of either, you wimps, but as long as the SEC keeps winning championships, the means are secondary to the ends. 
Posted on: September 5, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 7:25 pm
 

An SEC team in Big 10 country is pretty rare

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The SEC has, perhaps rightfully so, taken flak over the years for their non-conference scheduling philosophy. Yes, the league is tough but there are only so many directional schools a team can play. That's what makes this week's match up between Penn State and Alabama so rare. Two power conference teams playing each other and, perhaps most notably, the SEC team traveling to Big Ten country.

This will be the 15th meeting between the two schools but the first time ever the Crimson Tide will travel to Happy Valley when Penn State is a member of the Big Ten conference, previous trips north were when the Nittany Lions were a football independent. Even more interesting due is the fact that this is the first time Alabama has played at a Big Ten team while a member of the SEC. Yes, the first time ever.

That got me to thinking (and researching), when was the last time the rest of the SEC teams played at a Big Ten opponent? Turns out, only Kentucky and Vanderbilt have been willing to play up north during the regular season. The pair are actually the only SEC teams to play at a Big Ten school in the last 23 years until the Tide take the field on Saturday.

Here's the full list of when every current SEC team last played at a Big Ten team during the regular season:

Alabama

at Wisconsin, Nov. 3, 1928, lost 15-0. (Alabama did not join the SEC until 1932)

Arkansas

at Iowa, Oct. 3, 1925, lost 28-0. (Arkansas did not join the SEC until 1991)

Auburn

at Wisconsin, Oct. 10, 1931, tied 7-7.  (Auburn did not join the SEC until 1932)

Florida

at Northwestern, Sep. 18, 1965, won 24-14.

Georgia

at Michigan, Oct. 2, 1965, won 15-7.

Kentucky

at Indiana, Sep. 19, 2005, lost 38-14.

LSU

at Ohio State, Sep. 24, 1988, lost 36-33.

Ole Miss

at Minnesota, Nov. 5, 1932, lost 26-0. (Ole Miss did not join the SEC until 1932)

Mississippi State

at Illinois, Oct. 4, 1980, won 28-21.

South Carolina

at Michigan, Sep. 27, 1980, won 17-4 (South Carolina did not join the SEC until 1991)

Tennessee

Never played at a Big Ten school.

Vanderbilt

at Michigan, Sep. 2, 2006, lost 27-7.



Posted on: September 3, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 10:37 am
 

Northwestern QB Dan Persa (achilles) out

Posted by Chip Patterson

Northwestern senior quarterback Dan Persa has been ruled out for the Wildcats' season opener Saturday against Boston College. Persa is still recovering from the ruptured achilles tendon he suffered last season against Iowa. The dual-threat quarterback will be replaced by sophomore Kain Colter.

Persa threw for 15 touchdowns and rushed for 9 more in a breakout season for the Wildcats a year ago. He is arguably the most important part of their offense, though Coulter did rush for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns against Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl on New Years Day.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:56 pm
 

Dan Persa 'questionable' for Northwestern opener

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There's been a great deal of, shall we say, conflicting information from Northwestern about vaunted quarterback Dan Persa as the Wildcats prepare for a Week 1 battle at Boston College. Persa is coming off a torn Achilles tendon 10 months ago in a 21-17 victory against Iowa, and while that's a major injury to suffer, expectations have been such that Persa would not only be back for 2011, but also be a Heisman candidate for the 'Cats.

Since then, we've been told that Persa's recovery has been ahead of schedule, that Kain Colter (the first-string quarterback during spring, while Persa was still out) had pulled even with Persa, that Persa said his repaired Achilles tendon was almost a 10 on a scale of 10, that Pat Fitzgerald expected Persa to start ... and now that Persa is listed as "questionable" for the game

As mentioned before, it's entirely possible that listing Colter as the "1b" starter at quarterback has less to do with Persa's recovery and more with Colter's improvement as a quarterback, especially since he's been spending enough time with the starting unit to develop a meaningful rapport and timing. If that's the case, Fitzgerald shouldn't have to worry too much about Persa's lingering Achilles issue, because Colter would be a legitimate quarterback to send out against Boston College and Persa wouldn't have to be forced into situations for which he's not fully prepared yet. That's not to say Persa or Fitzgerald represented the condition of Persa's Achilles, it's just that getting that rehab done is hardly the end of getting Persa back on the field and 100%. He's got a lot of conditioning and practice that he missed, so there's a readjustment process that varies for everybody, regardless of their character or commitment to the program.

That all said, we fully expect to see Persa on the field for some amount of time on Saturday. If the training staff really didn't think Persa could go, he'd be out; a long-term rehab project like this probably isn't on a day-to-day basis. Some sort of time-split scenario seems likely, and Fitzgerald has been comfortable with situations like that in the past -- especially with one quarterback dinged up.
 
 
 
 
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