Big 10 Report: Week 9


Overview:

 Leave it the Big 10 to remind us how important special teams play is.  Two games were impacted by two gutsy special teams’ plays.  Michigan State was able to pull off another trick play that was a major factor to them remaining undefeated.  Wisconsin used a fake punt to thrust them ahead of Iowa.  The results of both of these games had a major impact on the Big 10 standings so it is just another reminder that special teams are exactly that special.  Ohio State rebounded from their loss last week and put a pounding on Purdue but the Buckeyes need help if they want to regain their Big 10 Crown.  It was a tough loss for Northwestern but I am still counting on them for at least 1 big win this year so keep an eye on the Wildcats.

IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23- Quarterback Scott Tolzien  of the Wisconsin Badgers throws under pressure from Defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn  of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes as offensive lineman Gabe Carimi  defends during the first half of play at Kinnick Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 31-30 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

Standout Players:  

If you want to watch a player giving 110% on every play look no further than Dan Persa of Northwestern.  This guy plays with a lot of guts and almost led his team to an upset victory over Michigan State.  While watching that game I was shocked that he kept getting up after every big hit.  This kid is a gamer and deserves a lot of respect for his play on the field.  This weekend had good performances from several quarterbacks but I was really impressed by the play of Ricky Stanzi.  Stanzi has a reputation of making poor decisions, but he was on point against Wisconsin.  He ended the game throwing 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.  Even though Iowa lost I think Stanzi proved that he is still a force in the Big 10. Not to be out done Kirk Cousins had an impressive game too.  Michigan State had to lean on their Junior quarterback more than usual as they found themselves down early.  Cousins completed 67% of his passes going 29-43 with 331 yards.  His play had a lot to do with the Spartans staying undefeated.

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Kirk Cousins  of the Michigan State Spartans throws a pass under pressure from Corbin Bryant  of the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Looking Ahead:

Another College Football weekend and another great Big 10 match-up.  This weekend could be the last major test for Michigan State as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium.  I like Michigan State in this game but it is really difficult to win in Iowa City.  Another game that promises to be exciting is the Michigan @ Penn State game.  Penn State is looking to get their season back on track and a win against Michigan would do the trick.  Michigan looks to answer the questions surrounding the team, as to whether they can win games in the Big 10.

Written by Jon Dove.  Follow him on Twitter @NFLMocks.

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Big 10 Report: Week 8


Overview

 Two big things were lost this weekend; Ohio State’s #1 ranking and Tim Brewster’s job.  You cannot talk about this past weekend’s games without mentioning the big win by the Wisconsin Badgers as they upset the #1 Buckeyes.  Wisconsin played their game and won because they were able to establish a running game.  John Clay and James White were a great 1-2 punch as they put up 184 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.  The loss by the Buckeyes put a serious dent in their National Title hopes, now they must keep winning and hope that other teams lose.  Terrelle Pryor regressed as a passer and threw more than a handful of balls in the ground.  Not all is lost for Ohio State so they need to regain focus and play well.  Lost in upset talk was the nice performance by the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans.  I felt that this could possibly be a trap game for the Spartans but they came out and played their game.  They have a few tough games coming up including at Iowa and at Penn State.

Iowa also took care of business this weekend knocking off the Michigan Wolverines.  It appears that the Big 10 has as many as 4 teams battling for the title; those teams include Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 25: Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez reacts to a play during the second quarter of the game against Bowling Green on September 25, 2010 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated Bowling Green 65-21. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

You have to think this might be the start of the slide for Michigan as they have not lost 2 games in a row.  It is obvious that Michigan is struggling with the bigger stronger teams of the Big 10, compared to the different style teams they played early in the season.

Standout Players:  

Over at NFLMocks.com we looked at the performance of Gabe Carimi and I think he is worth mentioning here as a stand out player.  He had a tough match-up against Cameron Heyward but he held his own in pass protection and also opened up several big holes for the running backs.  I was really impressed with the way he got to the second level.  You also have to mention another Wisconsin player in JJ Watt as he was all over the field.  He was constantly in the backfield putting pressure on Pryor while holding strong against the run.  Finally, I want to point out the game by Iowa’s Adam Robinson who carried the ball 34 times for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Robinson is going to be one of the most important pieces to Iowa’s Big 10 championship hopes.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05: Adam Robinson #32 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Looking Ahead:

There is really only one game that will get a lot of attention and that is the match-up of Wisconsin @ Iowa.  This game could very well knock the loser out of title contention.  The key to the game is on the front lines as the Wisconsin offensive line looks to get a push against the impressive Iowa defensive front.  A nice head to head match-up to keep an eye on is Gabe Carimi vs Adrian Clayborn.

Written by Jon Dove.  Follow him on Twitter @NFLMocks.

Big 10 Report: Week 7


Overview:

Over the weekend we got a good gauge on who the contenders are going to be for the Big 10 title. As I see it right now I would say that Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa have the best shot of coming home with the Big 10 crown. However, this weekend’s matchup of Ohio State vs Wisconsin could change a lot if Wisconsin could manage an upset.

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) passes to a receiver during their NCAA football game against Indiana in Columbus, Ohio, October 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Michigan State avoided their first loss last week by containing the extremely dangerous Denard Robinson. They have proven that they have all the parts necessary to end the season at the top of the Big 10. Their running attack is 2nd to none in the conference and they will continue to count on it heavily.

Two teams had devastating losses and they would be Penn State and Northwestern. Both teams didn’t have a legitimate shot at finishing atop the conference but these loss have a lot of questions swirling round each team. Penn State was expected to have a down year but nobody expected them to lose to Illinois at home. And while it’s not a major upset many expected Northwestern to handle a struggling Purdue team.

Lastly, is this the fall of the Wolverines? They started last season off very similar to this season and they ended the season very poorly. The Michigan State defense exposed the blue print to slow down Denard Robinson, and I am sure the rest of the Big 10 took notice.

Standout Players:

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans looks to pass the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers on September 26, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

To me the standout players come from 1 team in particular and that is Michigan State. Edwin Baker may very well be the top running back in the Big 10 and he continues to help this Michigan State team claim victories. Kirk Cousins has been a rock at the quarterback position, he is a very clutch player and is capable of leading his team when it matter most. I really couldn’t pinpoint just one player so I think you have to recognize the entire Illinois team for their dominating performance against Penn State in Happy Valley, not many teams are able to win in Beaver Stadium.

Looking Ahead:

The top game is Ohio State vs Wisconsin and we should know a lot more about both teams after Saturday’s game. In one hand a victory for Ohio State brings them a lot closer to playing for a National Title and Wisconsin is trying to get back into the Big 10 Championship discussion. Another game that I will be keeping a close watch on is the Illinois vs Michigan State game where the Spartans look to avoid a letdown after their big in vs Michigan. I also wouldn’t sleep on the Iowa vs Michigan game because the Wolverines will be thrusty for revenge as they attempt to get back on the winning track.

Written by Jon Dove.  Follow him on Twitter @NFLMocks.

Week 6 in the Big 10


Overview:

 This was a big weekend in the Big 10 as it was good to see some teams take charge of their spot in the pecking order.  Michigan State had a very good win against the higher ranked Wisconsin Badgers.  Michigan State looks to have a strong team that has hopes to make a run at a Big 10 title or at the very least a Rose Bowl bid if Ohio State makes it to the National Championship Game.  Iowa came out and did what they were expected to do against Penn State and you cannot count them out of the Big 10 race.  Penn State looked sluggish on offense and that has a lot to do with a inconsistent running game and a true freshman quarterback.  Northwestern and Michigan are undefeated but many will argue the neither has played a tough schedule, and that is probably true.  Michigan had another shootout win against Indiana giving up over 200 receiving yards to Indiana wideout Tandon Doss.  Ohio State had a dog fight of a game against Illinois and they looked terrible when Pryor went out briefly with an injury.  This is noteworthy because if he is unable to stay healthy, this Buckeye team could be in serious trouble.

Standout Players:

There is no way you mention Big 10’s top players without leading off with Denard Robinson.  This kid has himself positioned nicely for a Heisman trophy run and is stuffing the stat sheet every week.  He is such an electric player and is one of the most exciting players in College Football.  Iowa’s defensive end Adrian Clayborn showed up in a big way against Penn State recording 10 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack; a truly dominate performance.  You also have to give a lot of credit to Kirk Cousins because he led his team to a good victory while going for an efficient 8-10 118 yards in the second half.

Looking Ahead:

The top game on the schedule is the match-up between rivals Michigan and Michigan State, this will be an exciting one people.  Each team is ranked in the top 20 and are undefeated, this game will go a long way towards the final Big 10 standings.   It will be interesting to watch Denard Robinson go against a legitimate defense this week.  I like Michigan State in this game because I feel they will control the clock with their running game and slow down Robinson just enough. 

January 1, 2009: Greg Jones of the Michigan State Spartans in action during the NCAA football game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Georgia Bulldogs in the Capital One Bowl. The Bulldogs defeated the Spartans 24-12 Photo via Newscom

 Two other intriguing games to keep an eye on are Illinois vs Penn State and Ohio State vs Indiana.  The Penn State vs Illinois game pins two teams hoping to keep pace with the top part of the Big 10 and a loss for either team could be the beginning for a disappointing season.  The only reason I would give Indiana a chance against Ohio State is because I am a little unsure of the health of Pryor.  I feel if he misses any time due to injury the Indiana offense could make this game interesting.

Written by Jon Dove.  Check out his work at NFLMocks.com and on Twitter @NFLMocks

Big 10 News & Notes


 

Overview: I don’t know how you don’t start your Big 10 conversation this week without mentioning Michigan State.  The Spartans pulled off a big win against Notre Dame with a fake field goal in overtime.  This win has the makings of a pace setter that could propel a team to several more wins.  Michigan State did what they did best by running the ball.  I was also pretty impressed with the defense who were expected to lose the game for the Spartans.  Of course not all things were good for Michigan State as their Head Coach Mark Dantonio suffered a mild heart attack and will be out for awhile.

The other big news in the Big 10 this weekend was Iowa suffering an upset to upstart Arizona.  Iowa was taken out of their game early when they went down by 14 points.  They were never able to rebound as they were forced to throw the ball.  They mounted a late comeback only to fall short.  For most this eliminates the Hawkeyes from National Title contention and exposes some of their weaknesses. 

Michigan and Wisconsin both struggled to put away teams they were suppose to handle easily as UMass and Arizona State hung around and made things interesting.  Michigan and Wisconsin fans are happy with the win but should feel a little uneasy about their team’s performance.  There are a few more games before the teams open up Big 10 play and thing will need to be tightened up before then.

Standout Players: Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell put up another good performance as he builds his resume for Big 10 freshman of the year.  He had 114 yards on 17 carries and 1 touchdown.  Denard Robinson continues to be an all purpose yard machine combining for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Robinson continues to gain momentum as we head towards Big 10 play.  Two Wisconsin players made headlines with big games and they were John Clay and Lance Kendricks.  Clay rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown as Kendricks hauled in 7 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.  Both players were instrumental in Wisconsin’s tight victory.

Looking Ahead: The biggest game on this week’s schedule is Temple at Penn State in what is sure to be a good match-up.  Temple comes into the game undefeated coming off an impressive win against UConn but to this point hasn’t played a team as talented as Penn State.  The Nittany Lions need to stay focused and not look ahead to their big match-up against Iowa in a few weeks.  This is a potential trap game for Penn State as they will be expected to win but can easily be upset.  Temple possesses a good defense and a solid running game, with some experience at the quarterback position.  Temple Coach Al Golden has heard his name in connection to the Penn State coaching job once Joe Paterno steps down, this will be his audition.

The rest of the Big 10 slate is filled with lesser opponents where I don’t expect any upsets.  The only other game to keep an eye on is Northern Illinois @ Minnesota.

Written by Jon Dove @NFLMocks on Twitter