By JOHN SEARS - BIG TEN INSIDER
In case you had a nice little Saturday planned at Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond, here’s what happened in the Big Ten during week three:
1. WISCONSIN [3-0] (W: Wisc 13, Fresno State 10): A very questionable call on an FSU fumble kept this one much closer than it should have been. The Badgers held onto victory thanks to a key sack. Speaking of sacks, or lack thereof, the Badgers’ offensive line has yet to surrender one. Wisconsin takes the top ranking after tough road win.
2. PENN STATE [3-0] (W: PSU 55, Syracuse 13): QB Daryl Clark has engineered some smooth sailing offensively to start the season as the Lions have outscored their opponents 166-37. Next week’s breeze against Temple should only increase this gaudy statistic and keep PSU near the top of the conference rankings.
3. OHIO STATE [2-1] (L: USC 35, OSU 3): Containing USC’s stable of running backs was the key to the Bucks keeping this one close. However, that proved too much to ask of the OSU defense. Frosh QB Pryor looked solid on foot, occasionally breezing past USC defenders. Hope should not be lost--Beanie Wells’ will return and conference play starts soon.
4. ILLINOIS [2-1] (W: ILL 20, LA-Lafayette 17): Despite man-child WR Arrelious Benn averaging eight touches a game (and netting two TDs), the offense is still focused on the legs of Juice Williams and Daniel Dufrene. Dufrene is keeping the Illini chugging, already equaling his output from last year (45-300, 6.7 avg).
5. MICHIGAN STATE [2-1] (W: MSU 17, FLA Atlantic 0): Still haven’t heard of MSU’s RB Javon Ringer? After three games, he has rushed for 498 yards on 104 carries (4.8 avg) and 9 scores. His capstone came in the heavy rain (43-282 and 2 TDs)…perhaps the “other” Big10 team from Michigan should take some “how to perform in bad weather” lessons from Ringer.
6. IOWA [3-0] (W: Iowa 17, Iowa St. 5): The Cy-Hawk trophy comes back to Iowa City after the Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State, 17-5, led by old-school style Big Ten football – defense and special teams. Although the Hawkeyes’ defense is relatively young and untested, the unit has been putting up strong numbers, allowing only two FGs in its first three games.
7. PURDUE [2-1] (L: Oregon 32, Purdue 26 in OT): It’s disappointing to see Purdue lose another game by not closing out its opposition. This needs to change fast to make Coach Tiller’s swan song a memorable one. RB Kory Sheets ran well, showing Purdue’s offensive versatility (180 yds and two scores).
8. NORTHWESTERN [3-0] (W: NWU 33, SIU 7): It pays to be patient. In this case, running the spread with seniors at QB (C.J. Bacher) and RB (Tyrell Sutton) leads to lopsided scoring; the Cats have outscored their opponents 87-37. Northwestern has added to their offensive arsenal, landing four star commit OL Patrick Ward. Is Coach Fitzgerald finally on stable footing, ready to take the program to the next level?
9. MINNESOTA [3-0] (Minn 35, Montana St. 23): So far, the Gophers are making their last stand at the Metrodome a memorable one. Sophomore QB Adam Weber is building nicely on his freshman campaign, going 60-86 (70%) for 732 yds and 6 TDs with no INTs. Their first true test comes in their conference opener against the Buckeyes in two weeks.
10. INDIANA [2-0] (IDLE): Indiana held serve against much weaker opposition to start their season. In their two wins, star QB Kellen Lewis has accounted for 497 yards and four TDs with a QB rating of 131.2. Are the memories of the late Coach Hoeppner inspiring this year’s squad as well? Time will tell.
11. MICHIGAN [1-2] (L: Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17): I apologize. I suggested that one pass play over senior CB Morgan Trent would be the difference-maker for the Irish’s key to victory. Instead, Trent gets beaten on a fade and a slant-and-go double move and is called for a pass-interference in the end zone, all of which resulted in Notre Dame TDs. The game was essentially over after that as ND went up 21-0 in the first quarter. The Wolverines are the only Big Ten team with two losses. Yikes!
Monday, September 15, 2008
By JOHN SEARS - BIG TEN INSIDER