BY MICK MILLER
BIG TEN INSIDER
“What we do in life … echoes in eternity.”
I believe I have solved the University of Michigan’s problem. Lloyd Carr needs to step down for Russell Crowe. The two met after Crowe discovered that Carr was using his film “Cinderella Man” to motivate his team. Crowe was in Baltimore doing a film and Carr asked him to come up to the game. “The Gladiator” spoke to the Wolverines prior to their game with Notre Dame and inspired them to come out and win their duel with the Fighting Irish. Next Saturday, the vicious defense of the Nittany Lions will need be slain by the Wolverines and more epic battles were fought this weekend with the true test for some the Big Ten (8-3 this week) gladiators’ upcoming next week: the conference schedule.
Michigan: Although most are relieved by the 38-0 win over the Irish (ANY win this season, and ANY over the Irish is good), you have to think that the Wolverines really kicked a worse team while they were down. With Penn State coming into the Big House next week with a stout and active defense, freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett (subbing for the injured senior Chad Henne) may wish he were watching a movie instead. Mallett threw for three touchdowns and managed the game well for his first start. Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen wishes he could have walked out of the show. The Wolverine defense pickled Clausen all day (8 sacks) long and the ineptitude of Notre Dame’s offense this season continued like a bad sequel (they have been outscored 102-13 after three games). Michigan finally wised up and hitched the chariot to halfback Mike Hart to the tune of 35 attempts and 187 yards with two touchdowns.
Up Next: While the Wolverines await the Nittany Lions and Emperor Paterno, the Irish will face the now mighty Spartans.
Michigan State: The other battle being fought in the state of Michigan was at Spartan Stadium where the Pitt Panthers invaded East Lansing. The Spartans overcame lackadaisical play with some timely turnovers by the defense to ward of true freshman halfback LeSean McCoy and his 172 yards. McCoy scored the Panthers only touchdown on the day with a 64-yard score that tied the game at seven in the first half. Safety Otis Wiley picked off a Pitt pass and tailback Jehuu Caulcrick (73 yards rushing on the day) made it pay off, scoring his seventh touchdown on the season. Halfback Javon Ringer added 95 yards rushing while Spartan corner Travis Key returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown to give MSU back the lead at 14-7, which they never relinquished. Head coach Mark Dantonio has the Spartans winning games they use to lose and winning ugly when need be.
Up Next: Michigan State travels to Notre Dame next Saturday looking to keep the luck of the Irish on its current course.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes continue to struggle with their in-state rival, Iowa State. Cyclone place kicker Bret Culbertson kicked a school-record tying five field goals, the last with one second left from 28 yards to beat Iowa in Ames. The Hawkeyes have lost seven of their last ten against Iowa State, who was 0-2 coming into the game. Iowa simply played bad on both sides of the ball with sub-par performances by their offense and defense. Bookend defensive ends Kenny Iwebema and Bryan Mattison combined for six tackles and no sacks. Running backs Damian Sims and Albert Young combined for 100 yards, but couldn’t punch it in and had a long of 17 yards between them. Quarterback Jake Christensen was 12 of 23 for a paltry 118 yards and an 11-yard bootleg touchdown run. Cyclone quarterback Bret Meyer was 21 for 29, but for not much more, 157 yards. The win was the first for Iowa State’s head coach Gene Chizik, whose team had lost to both Kent State and Northern Iowa at home.
Up Next: The Hawkeyes have little time for feeling sorry; they travel to Wisconsin next week for their Big Ten opener against the Badgers.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions started somewhat sluggish and then punched out Buffalo from the second quarter on, 45-24. Down 3-0 after the first, Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli threw for four touchdown passes through the second and third, two to Andrew Quarless (his only receptions of the game) and closed down a valiant effort by Buffalo and their quarterback Drew Willy. The Bulls’ signal caller had a big game against a good Penn State defense, going 28 for 39 and 330 yards, a touchdown and interception. The Lion offense was simply too much for Buffalo, as Morelli opened the lead and halfbacks Rodney Kinlaw (23 carries for 129 yards, touchdown) and Austin Scott (9 for 53, a 40 yard touchdown run in the fourth) took over in the run game to break the Bulls, who outscored the Lions 21-14 in the fourth quarter.
Up Next: Penn State travels to Ann Arbor for a date with Michigan to open their Big Ten slate next Saturday.
Purdue: The Boilermakers continue to blow up opponents on offense by slicing and dicing the Chippewas to a 31-0 lead at the half, and then cruised to an easy 45-22 win in West Lafayette. Halfback Kory Sheets (21 carries, career best 144 yards) unleashed on Central Michigan with two touchdowns (17 and 7) in the first quarter, which opened up the passing game for quarterback Curtis Painter. The Boilermaker touchdown-maker continued his assault on the record books with a 29 for 39, 360 yards and three touchdown passes. Purdue mixes run and pass as good as anyone in the conference right now. Depending on their opponent, they show no preference in how to attack defenses with run or pass, which they use to set up the other. The problem they have is stopping themselves with turnovers. Down early, and the run game absent, CMU quarterback Dan LeFevour had no choice but to throw and had a nice game with 35 of 56, 364 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
Up Next: Purdue opens the Big Ten schedule on the road against the Golden Gophers in Minnesota.
Indiana: Hoosier quarterback Kellen Lewis accounted for five touchdowns and was a one-man wrecking crew in the second half against the Zips Saturday. With Akron giving them all they wanted at 17-17 in the first, Lewis went to work. After closing the second quarter with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Ray Fisher, Lewis’ took to the run, rushing for 199 yards on the game with two, second-half touchdown runs and his third scoring pass. He finished 19 of 24 for 137 yards through the air and fueled a 24-7 second half advantage. Wide receiver Jabari Arthur (7 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown) and quarterback counterpart Carlton Jackson (15-21, 220 yards, touchdown pass, interception, 20 rushes, 71 yards, rushing score) carried the Akron team, who fell to 1-2 on the season with consecutive losses to Big Ten teams (Ohio State last week, 20-2).
Up Next: The Hoosiers host the Fighting Illini next Saturday to open conference play.