Tag:Purdue
Posted on: November 21, 2010 4:36 am
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Nov. 20)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Wisconsin fans shouldn't necessarily buy tickets to Pasadena, but they should at least be pricing them. We're sure that Badger fans weren't terribly excited to see their nemeses in East Lansing complete the comeback today, leaving the Big Ten title picture still in some measure of doubt, but Ohio State 's own comeback against Iowa later that day means that barring a sensational boost in the BCS rankings for the Buckeyes, Wisconsin is one win away from the Rose Bowl. Considering Northwestern -- the Badgers' last opponent -- clearly misses injured QB Dan Persa and struggles to stop the run, the likelihood of an upset at Camp Randall seems slim. Famous last words, yes, but still.

2. Don't mention fourth quarters to Iowa fans for a while. Or do if you want to anger them. In the Hawkeyes' game against Ohio State, the Buckeyes weathered Iowa's defense for three quarters before making a heroic drive in the last few minutes of the game to take the lead and win. For the Iowa fans, it was a broken record that desperately needs to stop; in each of Iowa's four losses, the vaunted Iowa defense has given up a go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes on the clock, at which point the Iowa offense has failed to answer under pressure. In fact, Iowa would have five losses of that exact nature if Indiana wideout Damario Belcher hadn't dropped an easy fourth-down touchdown two weeks ago. It's to the point where "small sample size" just doesn't work as an excuse anymore: the Iowa defense clearly doesn't have the juice to play for 60 minutes, and that painful fact has snuffed out the high hopes of the Hawkeye faithful in Iowa City.

3. The Spartans might not be going to the Rose Bowl, but their season's pretty special anyway. Barring an Ohio State loss to Michigan next week, Michigan State will not be going to Pasadena; the fact that MSU and OSU didn't play each other this season means that their tiebreaker would be BCS ranking, and OSU was already comfortably ahead of the Spartans even before OSU took down a ranked Iowa team while MSU struggled with very-not-ranked Purdue. Michigan State's season-ender at Penn State isn't a gimme, but even if the Spartans lose, this is still just the third time in program history that MSU has hit 10 wins on a season (1965, 1999). The Spartans have never won 11 games in a season, and they have two opportunities to do that now.

The accomplishment isn't that much of a stunner, as the Spartans looked on paper to be at worst a darkhorse contender for the league title. It's just, well, they barely ever do this, so it was hard not to wonder how MSU would screw it all up this year. But credit Mark Dantonio and his staff for keeping the team on track, even through Dantonio's heart attack and other off-field problems, and en route to its best Big Ten record its best conference record in at least 11 (and maybe 45) years.

4. Okay, so football at Wrigley can be pretty cool -- even if one of the end zones is sort of a death trap. The Big Ten got it right when it forbade Illinois and Northwestern to run offensive series toward that now-infamous east end zone at Wrigley, and when Northwestern defensive back Brian Peters took an interception to the house, he had to be tackled by teammates before hitting that wall. No, he wasn't three yards away from certain doom, and the tackle by his pals was also nice and celebratory, but still: he was only about three or four yards away from impact before being taken down as he slowed from his sprint. Running offensive plays (like fade routes) toward that wall would have been just begging for injuries -- and lawsuits.

But past that, the fans in attendance got to see a special occasion, even if Illinois absolutely worked the Wildcats. Wrigley Field is one of the most hallowed sports arenas, and to see its famed scoreboard used to show Big Ten football scores and its marquee painted purple must have been a thrill for Northwestern and Big Ten fans in Chicago. Ron Zook said he'd "absolutely" have his team play there again, and Pat Fitzgerald was equally effusive in his praise of the event. Should the two teams play their rivalry game there every year? Well, that seems like an abuse of the novelty of it all, but have you ever actually seen Memorial Stadium or Ryan Field? Not exactly cathedrals of the sport, those. It might -- just might -- be worth keeping Wrigley on the table going forward.


Posted on: November 20, 2010 2:00 pm
 

Purdue leading No. 11 MSU at the half, 21-13

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big Ten race might be wrapping itself up early this week, if a certain game in East Lansing holds up. Purdue leads No. 11 Michigan State 21-13 at the break.

MSU has generally looked like the better team over the course of the first half, but QB Kirk Cousins has been dinged up, leaving the game twice with minor injuries. He started the second half, but there's no telling how close he is to 100% and how much it'll affect the MSU offense. MSU went three-and-out on its first drive, for the record.

Though Purdue has three TDs, only one came as a result of a sustained drive; during the last drive of the half, Rob Henry converted several third downs en route to an Antavian Edison touchdown catch (on third down, of course) with :08 left on the clock. Other than that, the Boilermakers have scored on an 80-yard rush by Keith Carlos and a pick-six by DB Ricardo Allen on the ensuing Wisconsin possession.

And yet, every time Michigan State looks likely to tip the balance of the game back in its favor, Purdue answers somehow, whether by forcing a stop or by putting together a drive. That the Spartans will come back to win this game is hardly a certainty, and plenty of Wisconsin fans would love to see this upset hold.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Saturday Meal Plan: Week 12

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're less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and apparently the NCAA has taken that into consideration with this week's schedule.  It seems they're kind enough not to give us anything too heavy this weekend so that we're able to gorge ourselves to death on Thursday.

The NCAA: always concerned about the fan and their digestive limitations.

Breakfast

Main Course - Michigan vs. #6 Wisconsin - Noon - ESPN

Listen, people, if Bret Bielema can put up 83 points on Indiana, then surely he can do the same against a Michigan defense that has been the polar-opposite of stout this season.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Badgers shoot for 100 this weekend.

First of all, they need a win a win to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive, and second of all, the Badgers have some BCS computers to impress.  What's more impressive than 100 points?

There's also the fact that Bielema has already gotten Tim Brewster fired this season, and may have added Bill Lynch to his tally last week as well.  Why wouldn't he take a shot at Rich Rodriguez?

Side Orders: Not much else of importance on Saturday morning, but there are options.  Oklahoma State goes to Kansas looking to stay atop the Big 12 South division, and West Virginia will try to keep its slim BCS hopes alive on the road against Louisville.   There's also the battle of North Carolina when the Tar Heels take on N.C. State.   Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State looks to maintain its spot on top of the Big Ten hosting Purdue.

Lunch

Main Course - #21 Iowa vs. #8 Ohio State - 3:30pm - ABC

We have a couple of games featuring ranked teams during the afternoon, but in my opinion, this one should grab top-billing.  Iowa saw its chances at winning the Big Ten ruined by Northwestern last week, so what could be better for the Hawkeyes than to ruin Ohio State's chances?

After all, it was Ohio State that beat the Hawkeyes last season and ended their hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, so why not return the favor?

If nothing else, it's just another chance for Ricky Stanzi to spread the message of loving America and hating hippies throughout the country.

Side Orders: The other ranked game this afternoon features Miami and Virginia Tech.   Miami has a very slim chance to win the ACC Coastal division, but in order to keep those hopes alive, they have to knock off a Hokies team that's won eight straight since dropping that game to James Madison.    There's also some Les Miles fun on the mothership when LSU hosts Ole Miss, and seriously, after all that's gone on surrounding the game, how can you not tune in to Illinois and Northwestern at Wrigley Field?  I'll be at that game witnessing the insanity from the press box.

Dinner

Main Course - Maryland vs. Florida State - 8pm - ABC

The game that would decide the ACC Atlantic! 

Who saw this one coming?  Essentially, the winner of this game will be going to the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks.  Now, while seeing Florida State in this position doesn't come as much of a shock, the fact that Maryland is here is rather surprising.

Though that's just the way the ACC rolls these days.  One minute you're terrible, and then the next you still aren't very good, but you're good enough.  Seriously the ACC should adopt the motto of "Hey, at least we aren't the Big East!"

Side Orders: If ranked teams are more your thing, then you can check out Texas A&M and Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers look to hold on to their ticket to Dallas while the Aggies -- who have done a 180 this season -- still want a chance to buy one.  Mississippi State and Arkansas will be going at it in Starkville as well.  Also, if you're into football games being played in baseball stadiums that use two end zones, Notre Dame and Army continue their annual rivalry on Saturday night, but this time from Yankee Stadium.  Show up and chant Derek Jeter's name for no reason!

Late Night Snack

Utah has not had a good November.  One week its getting pasted by TCU at home, and the next it's getting beat up on the road by a mediocre Notre Dame team missing half of its offense. Now they get to take on a San Diego State team that played TCU much better than the Utes did.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 1:28 pm
 

Bad decisions, mistakes hurting Michigan

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Things started out well enough for the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday morning.   A defense that has been much maligned all season started the game off by forcing a fumble from Purdue running back Dan Dierking, which was scooped up by Cameron Gordon and taken 58 yards for a touchdown.  Michigan's offense would get in on the fun a few minutes later when Denard Robinson hit Roy Roundtree for a 9-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Since then?  Well, the Wolverines have gotten sloppy and made some questionable decisions.

The Wolverines have turned the ball over three times in the first half, which have led to all of Purdue's points.  The biggest one came when Denard Robinson had the Wolverines in the red zone and made a bad pass into coverage that was picked off by Ricardo Allen and taken back 94 yards for a touchdown to make the game 14-10.

Then Rich Rodriguez decided he wanted to get in on the questionable decisions.

Purdue had driven into Michigan territory during the second quarter and faced a third down.  The Boilers then threw an incomplete pass -- that was nearly intercepted -- but a flag was thrown on the play for holding.  Rodriguez could have accepted the penalty and pushed the Boilermakers back another ten yards, which would have pushed them out of field goal range.

Instead Rodriguez declined the penalty, and Carson Wiggs booted a 46-yard field goal to cut Michigan's lead to 14-13.

So, yes, Michigan still has the lead at halftime, but they hold it in spite of themselves.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Michigan may be without Mouton against Purdue

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Michigan has one of the worst defenses in the country this season.  A unit that has been depleted over the last few years thanks to transfers and injuries finds itself ranked 114th in the country in total defense, and 104th in scoring defense.  Which wouldn't be so terrible if there were 400 teams in the FBS, but there are only 120.

So, naturally, the last thing Michigan needs right now is another injury on the defensive side of the ball.  Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that's exactly what they have.  Linebacker and leading tackler Jonas Mouton pulled a chest muscle during Michigan's crazy triple-overtime victory over Illinois last weekend, and now his status for Michigan's game against Purdue this Saturday is in doubt.

"We'll see how he progresses as it relates to Saturday," Rich Rodriguez told The Detroit News. "I don't think there's structural damage, but there's muscular issues that are causing some pain, and it's kind of a day-to-day thing. He's a tough guy, and if he can play and is cleared by the trainers, he'll be ready to go."

Obviously, Michigan can't really afford to lose anybody on defense these days, let alone its leading tackler.  If Mouton can't go on Saturday, Rodriguez said he'll be replaced by co-captain Mark Moundros at weak-side linebacker.

Moundros was a fullback last season.

The Wolverines may want to put up 60 again.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:33 pm
 

Denard Robinson should be 'good to go' Saturday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It just wouldn't be a normal week in the college football world if we didn't have to wonder what the status of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was for the coming weekend.  Robinson had to leave Michigan's video game triple-overtime victory over Illinois during the third quarter on Saturday, and experienced concussion-like symptoms.  Robinson had a headache and was dizzy, so Michigan trainers felt it best to keep him out of the rest of the game, and Tate Forcier filled in admirably to lead the Wolverines to a victory.

But what about this Saturday's game against Purdue?  

Well, Rich Rodriguez did his best to avoid the word concussion during his news conference on Monday, but did say that Robinson should be "good to go" after going through tests on Sunday.

"All's good," Rodriguez said. "There are no issues."

Which means that Robinson is likely going to start against Purdue on Saturday, break off a big run, take a hit, and then have to leave the game.  Then next Monday or Tuesday we'll be writing the same post here again about Robinson's status for the game against Ohio State.  So I guess we'll see you then!
Posted on: November 7, 2010 2:32 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 2:58 am
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Nov. 6)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Michigan doesn't do "boring." The game of the week, beyond any doubt, was Michigan's 67-65 squeaker over Illinois. The game featured 132 points scored, 1237 yards from scrimmage, 58 first downs, and 60:00 total time of possession. Okay, so the last one is normal.

Down the stretch, Michigan was led by Tate Forcier under center, as Denard Robinson was knocked out of a game once again. Forcier effectively reprised his role of "4th quarter dynamo" from 2009, proving yet again the rare value of an experienced backup quarterback. Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.

Thus, the only game that Michigan has participated in that didn't result in at least 50 total points was its season-opening 30-10 win over Connecticut; since then, whenever Michigan takes the gridiron, the points fly; on average, a Michigan game features almost 73 points per game. In fact, after today's circus act, Michigan leads the Big Ten in both points per game and points allowed per game. Is it "good football"? Lord, no. Is it exciting? Of course. If that's the role Michigan is destined to play under Rich Rodriguez, it's certainly a step down for the Wolverines, but it's not necessarily worse for the conference as a whole.

2. The road is awful hard. It don't take no guff. No. 9 Wisconsin went on the road to Purdue and trailed until the second half. No. 16 Iowa went to Indiana and needed a horrific dropped touchdown on 4th down (more on this later) to escape with an 18-13 win. Northwestern blew a 21-0 lead at Happy Valley, Minnesota got smacked by Michigan State, and Illinois couldn't win in Ann Arbor even after scoring 65 points.

All of which is to say, winning on the road in the Big Ten is still really difficult. It's something to keep in mind when prognosticating the Rose Bowl berth endgame. Regardless of how good the four teams at the top of the conference are, odds are that at least one (and probably more) will go down on the road yet this season, and we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

3. Nothing's really changed at the top. Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa all won, and we're still waiting on a score from Ohio State and Brigham Young East (we assume that's what BYE stands for). The tiebreakers remain exactly the same, then, with the only difference being that there is now one fewer game for the first three teams mentioned to lose. With a finite -- and indeed, extremely limited -- amount of games to play, the passage of one week without a dropoff from the top four is in and of itself important, even if the stipulations and situations themselves don't change. Perhaps this isn't something to "have learned," per se , but for the top of the conference, the maintenance of the status quo is still meaningful.

4. Penn State's offense might actually exist. When Northwestern went up 21-0 on a sensational Drake Dunsmore* touchdown late in the first half, it would have been perfectly logical to assume that the Penn State offensive attack, led by former walk-on Matt McGloin, didn't have much of a shot to make up the deficit. After all, it would have tied the largest deficit a Joe Paterno-coached Penn State team had ever made up in his previous 399 victories, and that's a lot of victories.

But of course, Penn State did exactly that, scoring the final 35 points of the game to win 35-21. McGloin poured in four touchdown passes, but the real heroes were on PSU's oft-maligned offensive line; the front five paved enough holes to let both Evan Royster and Silas Redd top 100 rushing yards on the day, and McGloin's 225 passing yards simply wouldn't have happened if he had faced the pressure that regular starter Rob Bolden has become used to in this, his freshman season. Imagine that: when given time and space to operate, a previous all-conference honoree once again looked like an all-conference player, and a walk-on quarterback was able to execute to the best of his ability.

5. One quiet moment for Damario Belcher. We mentioned this play in passing earlier, but it's worth mentioning in more detail; with less than 30 seconds on the clock and the Hoosiers facing a 4th and 10 at the Iowa 18, Indiana QB Ben Chappell found wideout Damario Belcher open in the middle of the end zone. Belcher, already the team's leading receiver on the game with seven catches for 50 yards, made an athletic move to catch the ball with nobody on him and got both hands on it, leading most in the stadium to assume Indiana had scored the putative winning touchdown.

Alas, as an eagle-eyed referee (and several optimistic Iowa players) noticed, Belcher bobbled the pass and never controlled it before the ball hit the ground and rolled away ineffectually, making the play nothing more than a drive-killing incomplete pass. Indiana challenged, but it was an easy confirmation for replay officials; it clearly was not a catch. Iowa knelt on the ball, and just like that, Indiana lost on a play Belcher makes probably 90-95% of the time.

Again, this isn't strictly something to learn, but it's something important to remember: Belcher's a human being, and he doesn't need anybody to remind him that he screwed the game-winning play up. There's likely nobody in the world -- like, at all -- who feels worse about the loss than he does. So to anybody who finds it necessary to complain that Belcher "sucks" or is "stupid" or "needs to get his damn head in the game" or whatever arbitrary derogatory remark they think applies to Belcher, one piece of advice: save it. Just don't add to the crapfest that guy's season already became, and strike a note for civility instead. Granted, Indiana football fans aren't generally known to be nasty or otherwise unreasonable to begin with or anything, but still: let's all keep our heads screwed on about this game and this 20-year-old kid playing it.

*Did you know: Drake Dunsmore is a second-generation college football player. His father is Pat Dunsmore, a star tight end who was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears in 1983 and played two seasons with the team. And where did Pat Dunsmore go to school? Yep: Drake University.

Posted on: November 6, 2010 4:32 pm
 

Michigan wins 3OT epic; RichRod safe?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At one point, it looked like Michigan had it in the bag, up 38-31 with the ball and driving deep into Illinois territory. Then it looked like they had no chance, down 45-38 with time for only one drive and Tate Forcier in for the injured Denard Robinson , out with either a head r hand injury (again).

But Forcier converted that drive into a critical last-minute touchdown, and Michigan survived three overtimes to win today's nominee for Big Ten game of the year 67-65 when Nathan Scheelhaase couldn't get a two-point conversion passoff. The game featured all kinds of superlatives and records, but maybe the most impressive is that Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree is now the school's single-game record holder for receiving yardage, having hauled in 9 catches for 246 yards. Even considering the addition of three extra frames, the amount of offense is staggering: 676 total yards for the Wolverines, 561 for the Illini. And the game provided some nice redemption for Forcier, the one-time golden boy who lost his job to Robinson in the offseason and began his outing today by setting up an Illini score with an unforced fumble.

But the biggest winner of all is Rich Rodriguez , who has his team bowl-eligible for the first time in his three seasons and could even push to seven wins with a victory over injury-riddled Purdue . As powerful as the Michigan offense looks, it seems unlikely the usually-stolid Michigan administration will rfire him after a bowl season over simply asking him to make defensive staffing changes. RichRod had never been in more trouble after last week's defensive meltdown against Penn State , but he might never have been safer than he is after this week's victory.

That's crazy, but it's also week-to-week business as usual in the college football business.
 
 
 
 
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