Dienhart: 5 things I learned in Week 9
The Big Ten race continues to take shape, as nine weeks are in the books. A big story this week: Injuries at quarterback. Last week, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller left the game with a neck injury but returned to play well this Saturday. But now, Wisconsin lost Joel Stave for the season with a collarbone injury and Michigan saw Denard Robinson go down with a right elbow issue that he is supposed to rebound from next Saturday. Scary stuff. Here is what I learned this week.
1. Nebraska is in control in the Legends Division. It now is 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. Even better, the Cornhuskers hold the tiebreaker over Michigan and Northwestern by virtue of their victories over each the last two weeks. Things are more exciting than ever in Lincoln as the stakes continue to escalate.
[RELATED: Dienhart: ‘Huskers are in driver’s seat’]
2. Braxton Miller is A-OK. The Ohio State wunderkind went down with a neck injury last week vs. Purdue and was taken to the hospital. But he showed no ill effects in a 35-23 win at Penn State. The sophomore ran for 134 yards on 25 carries with two scores and hit 7-of-19 passes for 143 yards with a touchdown and interception. Welcome back, Braxton! Glad everything is fine.
3. Wisconsin still appears to be in little danger of not going to the Big Ten title game as the Leaders Division representative. Yes, Indiana (3-5, 1-3) could win out and claim the bid, but that seems like a long shot. Still, Wisconsin would like to finish strong. But that may be difficult with quarterback Joel Stave out for the season with a broken collarbone that caused him to miss almost the entire second half of the loss to the Spartans. Danny O’Brien took over and had some issues.
4. The Big Ten has many good dual-threat quarterbacks in Braxton Miller, Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez. It also has two promising true freshman signal-callers who do most of their work through the air. Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld and Minnesota’s Philip Nelson. Each looked great on Saturday, offering hope for a strong finish—and bright future–for their respective schools. Sudfeld hit 10-of-15 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-17 win at Illinois. Nelson connected on 15-of-22 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-28 victory over Purdue. It was the first Big Ten triumph for each school
5. Iowa and Purdue are looking for answers. The Hawkeyes are coming off a 28-17 loss at Northwestern, their second defeat in succession. The Boilermakers’ 44-28 loss at Minnesota was their fourth in a row. Each team has myriad questions on both sides of the ball. And each also may be in peril of missing the postseason.
[RELATED: Watch BTN.com’s Week 9 top 10 plays]
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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