With the top teams taking care of business, there isn’t much movement in my bowl projections. Ohio State still is headed to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl—not the BCS title game. I still think the deck is stacked against the Buckeyes, who appear stuck at No. 4 in the BCS standings, being able to ascend into the Nos. 1 or 2 spots in the final BCS standings.
Happy Monday, Big Ten Nation! Time to start prepping for the big game this week: Nebraska at Michigan. Neither team can afford another loss in its pursuit of Michigan State in the Legends Division. What’s ironic is that a win by the Wolverines over the Huskers would be a big help to the Spartans. That would give Nebraska two league losses, the same as Michigan. MSU has none. So, will Mark Dantonio be cheering for the Wolverines on Saturday, when the Spartans are off?
A thrilling Saturday of action went a long way in shaking up my weekly Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. But, in the end, the trio at the top–Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State–reframed its top-billing status with impressive wins. After that trio, it’s surprising Minnesota checking in at No. 4. See my latest list in this post.
There was so much to learn on Saturday, one of the most exciting days of action all season. A last-second win by Nebraska … a close finish between Minnesota and Indiana … overtime between Penn State and Illinois. Here’s what I learned.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
This was one of the best weeks of action, highlighted by Nebraska’s stunning last-second win over Northwestern on a Hail Mary pass. Ohio State rolls on, while Michigan State continues to look like the team to beat in the Legends. And the feel-good vibes continue for Minnesota, which may have killed Indiana’s bowl hopes. Here is my wrap of Week 10.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State wanted to deliver a message. Mission accomplished … loud and clear.
It’s time to take my weekly Big Ten football quiz in preparation for another big Saturday football.
November is here, and that means the homestretch of the season is in view. Can you feel it? Can you sense it? This Saturday’s menu is dotted with some interesting clashes, headed by Michigan’s visit to Michigan State. Wisconsin’s trip to Iowa also will be fascinating. Here’s a look at all the action in my Four Downs feature.
November has arrived! And, that’s a beautiful thing. Because, well, you know the saying: The games to remember are played in November. Where to start today’s daily links? How about with this on Carlos Hyde? He has been a revelation since returning from a three-game suspension at the start of the season. Turns out, he wants to carve a spot for himself among the great Ohio State running backs.
Welcome to the Best of Week 10. And this is a special week after all the ones that came before it. Why? Because every team is in action for the first time since Sept. 14. All eyes will be on East Lansing for Michigan vs. Michigan State, a battle that not only will determine state bragging right but also go a long way toward determining the Legends Division race.
Brace yourself, fans: There could be a lot of fouls called in games this season as players adjust to two new rules changes that figure to have a profound impact. Officials are supposed to whistle hand-checking a foul. No more: no harm, no foul. You touch a player cutting through the lane, and you’ll hear the shrill of a whistle. The goal: To boost sagging offensive numbers.
Minnesota’s Richard Pitino and Northwestern’s Chris Collins are the new kids on the Big Ten block. And, each has a big hill to climb to keep pace with the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, among other programs.
Michigan State is the pick to win the Big Ten. Why not? The Spartans teem with talent for a program that went 27-9 last season while advancing to the Sweet 16. There’s Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine for a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in some polls. But the hub of all this talent is Gary Harris. How good is the sophomore, who spurned the NBA to return to East Lansing? Listen to Tom Izzo.
Michigan lost key players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., from a team that reached the national title game. But this edition of the Wolverines looks formidable even though it has a combined 33 points to replace with Burke and Hardaway gone. A key guy: Glenn Robinson III.
Illinois is an interesting team with eight newcomers. Who will be a leader for a team coming off a 23-13 season that won a NCAA game? John Groce is looking to senior Joseph Bertrand, especially as a vocal leader. Among the new faces are three transfers from four-year schools: Rayvonte Rice (Drake); Jon Ekey (Illinois State); Ahmad Starks (Oregon State), though Starks was denied a waiver to play this season.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
There is a full Saturday of action, as all 12 teams will play. The last time that happened? The third week of the season, September 14. And there are some interesting games, with Michigan’s trip to Michigan State the clear headline tilt. Here are looks at all six games as the season hits the homestretch.
I can’t wait to get to East Lansing for the Michigan-Michigan State game. I have been to the rivalry game before. But this year’s meeting appears to be a bit juicer than normal. Maybe it’s just me. Still, it sounds like the Michigan State game is personal for Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint.
When you think of Michigan State, you think defense. And, there is no better player on the Spartan “D” than cornerback Darqueze Dennard. The 5-11, 197-pound senior from Dry Branch, Ga., is in his third season as a starter and has 136 tackles and 25 passes defended (eight interceptions, 17 pass break-ups) in 37 career games, including 33 starts (22 consecutive).
The early returns are in, and the new penalty for targeting is having an impact. According to Big Ten officials coordinator Bill Carollo, there have been 54 targeting calls in 534 FBS games in 2013. Fifteen were subsequently overturned upon replay review, putting the number of disqualifications through 534 games and nine weeks of action at 39.
As we head full steam into the second half of the season, my mail box is getting stuffed with comments and questions. You know what that means: I have to reach into my mail bag and answer the best of your queries. Thanks for all of the interest! Keep the cards and letters coming! And don’t forget to watch this week’s top ten plays in this post, too.
Happy Tuesday! No doubt, the coaching offices at Minnesota still have to be filled with giddy Gophers assistants after that big win vs. Nebraska. Minnesota could get a lift in recruiting from the headline-making triumph on Saturday. Sure! It was a national story, and just the pick-me-up this program needed.
Not much movement in this week’s bowl projections. Ohio State is still No. 4 in the BCS standings and has a big hill to climb to get to the Nos. 1 or 2 spots. But Wisconsin still has time to perhaps be a BCS at-large bowl bid. The Badgers were just No. 24 in the BCS standings; they need to get into the Top 14. Michigan is No. 21; Michigan State is No. 22. The Spartans’ situation has improved, as have the bowl destinations for Iowa and Minnesota.
It’s Michigan State-Michigan week. And that’s a good thing. This heated rivalry is among the best in the nation. Each team looks like it may be headed in opposite directions. No doubt, a victory by the Spartans would greatly enhance their status as Legends Division front-runners. And, Mark Dantonio knows all about beating the Wolverines.
What did I learn in Week Nine? Ohio State and Michigan State are really good—and may be headed for a showdown in Indianapolis. Minnesota is a feel-good story that keeps getting better. Iowa is alive and well. And Northwestern’s season is on the edge.
If you somehow had any doubts prior to Saturday about who was the best team in the Big Ten, Ohio State surely cleared those up with its dominating effort vs. Penn State. Iowa and Minnesota were big risers. But Saturday wasn’t so good for Nebraska and Penn State. Here are my post-Week Nine Power Rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal.