BigTen.org takes an in-depth look at each of the conference teams in action this weekend
Nov. 24, 2010
(7-4, 3-4 Big Ten)
Michigan at No. 8 Ohio State
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 • Noon ET • Columbus, Ohio • Ohio Stadium (102,329)
ABC • Announcers: Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Quint Kessenich
Series: Michigan leads, 57-43-6 • Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2009: Ohio State 21, Michigan 10
(10-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
With last week’s win over Iowa, Ohio State became the first team in Big Ten history to win at least 10 games in six consecutive seasons. But no matter how significant that win might be, no conference victory matches up to the importance of a “W” against Michigan each year. “The Game” returns to Columbus this season with the Wolverines hungry as ever to top their rival in Ohio Stadium. Michigan leads the all-time series with Ohio State by a 57-43-6 count, including a 27-23-2 mark in games played in Columbus. OSU has captured eight of the nine games during the Jim Tressel era and has taken the last six contests against the Wolverines. U-M has not won in Columbus since 2000.
Michigan’s offense has been potent this season and will surely offer the Bucekyes’ defense a tough test on Saturday. The Wolverines are first in the conference in rushing (257.4) and total yards (514.5), second in passing (257.2), and third in scoring (36.8). On the other side of the ball, Ohio State ranks third nationally in rushing (86.3) and total defense (241.4), fifth in scoring (13.9) and against the pass (155.1), and seventh in turnover margin (+1.09). The Buckeyes, who have recorded 25 turnovers this season, have also allowed just 15 touchdowns on the campaign. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has rushed for 14 scores on the year. Robinson ranks second in the NCAA in total offense (342.5), third in rushing (139.8), and among the top 20 in pass efficiency (158.21). In the loss to Wisconsin, Robinson racked up 360 yards of total offense (239 pass, 2 TDs; 121 rush, 2 TDs) to become the first NCAA quarterback to rush for 1,500 yards and pass for 2,000 yards in the same season while breaking the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (1,538). Roy Roundtree surpassed 100 receiving yards (114) for the fourth time this season on seven catches and scored a touchdown. He upped his per-game receiving average to 76.3 yards, which ranks second in the Big Ten. The OSU defense will look to contain Robinson on the ground and force him to the air where he has been prone to make bad mistakes. Coincidentally, he and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor have a league-high 10 interceptions each. That’s just fine for a Buckeye “D” that is tied atop the Big Ten with 17 picks on the year. Ross Homan leads the team with 6.1 tackles per game, while Cameron Heyward is tied for seventh in the conference with 9.5 sacks on the season.
Michigan is not the only ballclub that has a versatile quarterback. Ohio State’s Pryor enters the weekend needing just 67 yards rushing to become the school’s career rushing leader among quarterbacks. He’s not a bad passer either. Despite those 10 interceptions, Pryor ranks fifth in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in pass efficiency (158.56). With 2,331 yards passing to date, Pryor has already surpassed his passing yardage (2,094) from last year. A lot of stress has actually been taken off Pryor this season with the success Daniel “Boom” Herron has had on the ground. Herron, who is just 68 rushing yards shy of 2,000 for his career, has scored at least one touchdown in 10 consecutive outings and currently ranks fourth among Big Ten running backs in conference games with 100.1 yards per contest. Junior DeVier Posey has also been streaking this year, catching at least one pass in 25 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten. Dane Sanzenbacher, who recorded the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his career with six catches for 102 yards in the win at Iowa, is second in the Big Ten with nine touchdown receptions. He has 49 catches for 818 yards, an average of 16.7 yards per catch. On defense, Michigan ranks ninth in points allowed (33.5) and against the rush (182.2), and 11th in passing (263.9) and total yards (445.2). The Wolverines have forced at least one turnover in each of the last three games, including last week when senior cornerback James Rogers recorded his third interception in the past two outings. Sophomore linebacker Kenny Demens set a new career best with 13 tackles. On the year, senior James Mouton leads the Big Ten with 10.2 tackles per game while sophomore Jordan Kovacs is tied for third with 8.6 per game.
(4-7, 0-7 Big Ten)
Indiana at Purdue
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 • Noon ET • West Lafayette, Ind. • Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Tom Hart, Anthony Herron, Lisa Byington
Series: Purdue leads, 70-36-6 • Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2009: Purdue, 38, Indiana 21
(4-7, 2-5 Big Ten)
Both Indiana and Purdue have struggled to meet their expectations this season. The Boilermakers have been plagued by injuries and have been trying to form a new identity throughout the year. Indiana entered the 2010 campaign looking to “finish” as it lost so many close ballgames late a year ago. But the Hoosiers have still managed to find heartbreak this season with close losses to Michigan, Iowa and Northwestern. So with bowl eligibility out of the question for both teams, Saturday’s contest between the two in-state rivals becomes all about pride and the Old Oaken Bucket. The rivalry is the seventh-longest in NCAA FBS history, with Saturday marking the 86th battle for the Bucket and the 113th meeting overall. Purdue has defeated Indiana two straight years, in seven of the last eight, and 12 of the last 15 contests dating to 1995. Purdue is 70-36-6 in the series and 36-20-4 in West Lafayette. Indiana has not won a Bucket Game in Ross-Ade Stadium since 1996
The Hoosiers’ offense ranks first in the conference in passing (283.3), seventh in scoring (26.5) and total yards (386.1), and 11th in rushing (102.8). It has been that kind of up-and-down year for Indiana where the pass-heavy Hoosiers have struggled to get the ground game going. Now in the past two weeks, with senior quarterback Ben Chappell suffering through a nagging hip injury, Indiana’s pass offense has taken a bit of a hit as of late. At the start of November, Indiana led the conference with 312.9 passing yards each time out. Now that league-high average has fallen 30 yards to its current mark. To assist Chappell’s recovery, head coach Bill Lynch has used Edwin Wright-Baker in its offensive scheme over the past two weeks. In 2010, Wright-Baker has completed 5-of-11 passes for 80 yards with one touchdown, a 62-yarder to redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson against Wisconsin, and one interception to go along with 28 rushing yards on eight attempts in four games. Demarlo Belcher (6.36), Tandon Doss (5.50) and Terrance Turner (5.18) remain Indiana’s top aerial targets this year, ranking first, second and fourth in the Big Ten in receptions per game. IU’s offensive front has only allowed 11 sacks on the season, which is second-best in the conference, but will surely be tested Saturday against Purdue and Ryan Kerrigan. The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten with 32 sacks (T-8th nationally), 83 tackles for loss (T-7th) and 10 interceptions. Kerrigan leads the nation with 25.0 tackles for loss (109 yards), is second with 12.5 sacks (73 yards) and shares second with five forced fumbles. He also has 66 tackles 48 solo, and two fumble recoveries. Sophomore defensive tackle Kawann Short has added six sacks, 12.5 TFLs and a team-high eight pass breakups. True freshman cornerback Ricardo Allen has two interceptions returned for scores, including a 35-yarder last weekend, and leads the team with three picks in addition to 65 tackles. Junior safety Logan Link paces the team with 87 tackles, 62 solo, with one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two TFLs. Overall, Purdue is allowing 28.3 points, 143.8 rushing yards, 222.5 passing yards and 365.9 total yards per game.
Offensively, the Boilermakers are averaging 18.6 points, 170.2 rushing yards, 141.5 passing yards and 311.7 total yards per outing. The Boilermakers have started four quarterbacks in 2010, including current starter Rob Henry who made his fifth start in the near upset at MSU last weekend. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 744 yards with five touchdowns, six interceptions and a 53.0 completion percentage. Henry is also second on the team with 519 rushing yards to go with four TDs and a 5.5 average. Senior fullback Dan Dierking leads the team with 521 rushing yards, good for a 52.1 average, with three scores and a 4.9 average. Senior Keith Carlos rushed for 103 yards last weekend, including an 80-yard touchdown, and has 291 yards and a 6.1 average in 2010. Fifth-year senior tight end Kyle Adams (33 receptions, 210 yards), senior Cortez Smith (31, 370, 3 TDs) and sophomore Antavian Edison (27, 227, 3) are the team's top three targets. Although Purdue posted 31 points against MSU last week, Indiana welcomes the struggling offense as the Hoosiers rank last in the Big Ten with 34.3 points allowed each game, including 40.7 in conference play. IU is 10th against the pass (237.1) and rush (182.2), as well as in total yards allowed (419.3). Tyler Replogle is fifth in the league with 8.4 tackles per game, followed by Jeff Thomas in 16th at 6.7 and Mitchell Evans in 25th at 6.1. Last week against Penn State, Replogle finished with 14 tackles, seven solo, for his second double-digit tackle effort of the season and the fifth of his career, while Evans finished with 10, including eight solo stops.
(10-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
No. 10 Michigan State at Penn State
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 • Noon ET • University Park, Pa. • Beaver Stadium (107,282)
ESPN2 • Announcers: Mike Patrick, Craig James, Heather Cox
Series: Penn State leads, 14-12-1 • Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2009: Penn State 42, Michigan State 14
(7-4, 4-3 Big Ten)
Saturday’s contest marks the 28th meeting between Michigan State and Penn State – a game that is undoubtedly the most important outing in the series for the Spartans. A win would give MSU at least a share of its first conference championship since 1990. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 14-12-1, including a 9-4-1 record in games played in State College. The home team has won 11 of the last 14 games, while Penn State has captured 13 of the last 17 overall. The Spartans have lost eight-straight games in Beaver Stadium, including a 49-18 loss on Nov. 22, 2008. MSU’s last win in State College came on Sept. 25, 1965 – the year before Joe Paterno took over as Penn State’s head coach. Saturday also marks the 18th meeting for the Land Grant Trophy, a rivalry game in which the Nittany Lions hold a 13-4 lead.
Despite getting off to a slow start last week against Purdue, Michigan State rallied for a 35-31 victory to keep the team within reach of the Big Ten title. The Spartans also eclipsed 30 points for a school-record ninth time this season, which could prove to test a Penn State defense that is giving up 22.1 points per game on the year. The Spartans as a whole average 31.6 points, 169.4 rushing yards, 244.2 passing yards, and 413.5 total yards per outing, which all rank in the top half of the conference. Quarterback Kirk Cousins enters Saturday with an injured ankle and despite suffering a shoulder injury in last week’s game against the Boilers, the junior will be ready for the Nittany Lions. Last week he threw for 276 yards and accounted for four touchdowns to help Michigan State rally from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit. On the day he was 28-of-37 passing for 276 yards, three TDs and one interception, and completed passes to 10 different receivers. Mark Dell caught eight balls for 108 yards and two scores, which helped increase his career high totals this season to 49 receptions, 761 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. In Big Ten games, Dell ranks second in the conference in both receptions (5.6) and receiving yards (84.1) per contest. Sophomore Edwin Baker leads the team in carries (167), rushing yards (1,069) and rushing TDs (12). With 16 carries for 90 yards against Purdue, Baker became just the sixth sophomore in MSU history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone. Penn State is allowing 164.7 rushing yards, 207.1 passing yards and 354.5 total yards per game. Last week the Nittany Lions held Big Ten passing leader Indiana to just 242 yards in the air. Linebacker Nate Stupar's team-high 10 tackles were the second-highest of his career, while Gerald Hodges made a career-best six stops in his first career start. Chris Colasanti is sixth in the conference with 8.4 tackles per game, while Michael Mauti is 17th with 6.7 hits each time out.
Offensively, Penn State is eighth in passing (223.9) and rushing (148.2), as well as ninth in total yards (372.1) and scoring (24.8). Quarterback Matt McGloin threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in his third career start last week, while wideout Derek Moye caught six balls for 90 yards and a score. Tailback Evan Royster ran for a TD but was held under 50 yards for the second straight week, leaving him 169 shy of becoming the team’s first running back with three 1,000-yard seasons. Royster, who rushed for 114 yards on 13 carries in last year’s 42-14 victory over Michigan State, is currently eighth in the league with 75.5 rushing yards per game. The Spartans’ defense ranks 23rd nationally in scoring (19.9), rushing (125.4), and turnover margin (+0.64), tied for 26th in takeaways (23), and 28th in both pass efficiency defense (116.4), and total yards allowed (332.5). Penn State’s McGloin did have some turnover issues against a tough Ohio State pass defense a few weeks back, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to a Spartan squad poised for picks. With two interceptions in the home finale against Purdue, Michigan State upped its INT total to 16 for the year – its highest season total since recording 17 in 2004. The 16 interceptions rank third in the Big Ten and 12th in the NCAA FBS. The Spartans had just six interceptions in 13 games last season. Senior linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordon have combined for 775 career tackles – the most by any active linebacker duo in the NCAA FBS. Jones is currently tied for third in the Big Ten with 8.6 stops per game, while Gordon is 13th with 7.5 tackles per contest and teammate Marcus Hyde follows in 14th at 6.8.
(7-4, 4-3 Big Ten)
No. 24 Iowa at Minnesota
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 • 2:30 p.m. CT • Minneapolis, Minn. • TCF Bank Stadium (50,805)
Big Ten Network • Announcers: Eric Collins, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson
Series: Minnesota leads, 59-42-2 • Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2009: Iowa 12, Minnesota 0
(2-9, 1-6 Big Ten)
No. 24 Iowa and Minnesota have been battling each other since 1891 and Saturday’s regular season-finale is highlighted by an interesting twist. The Golden Gophers, who have struggled this year to a 2-9 record and 1-6 mark in conference action, are coming off their lone league win (at Illinois) and a bye following nine straight defeats. The Hawkeyes on the other hand, were once considered a Big Ten title contender but have dropped the last two contests to Northwestern and No. 7 Ohio State. Saturday will be the 104th meeting between Iowa and Minnesota with the Gophers holding a 59-42-2 advantage. Iowa has won the last three meetings and eight of the last nine. The Hawkeyes won 12-0 last season in Kinnick Stadium to retain the Floyd of Rosedale and are now visiting Minnesota's new TCF Bank Stadium for the first time. Minnesota holds a 36-15-1 advantage in games played at Minneapolis, but Iowa has taken three of the last four on Gopher ground.
Earlier in the season Iowa’s offense was making headlines for the number of points it was putting on the scoreboard. The Hawkeyes began the year with wins scoring 35, 37 and 45 points. Then they went on to score 30 or more points in three consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 2005. In the three league contests since, Iowa put up 18 points in a win at Indiana and recorded 17 in losses against Northwestern and Ohio State. Scoring was not so common in last year’s win over the Gophers as well, with the Hawkeyes posting a 12-0 shutout. Despite the “lack of scoring,” Iowa still remains incredibly efficient on offense. The Hawkeyes are ninth in the nation in pass efficiency (160.79) and have been guilty of just seven turnovers, which is tied for the fewest in the country. Iowa boasts 29.6 points, 146.6 rushing yards, 247.5 passing yards and 394.1 total yards per game. In last week’s loss to Ohio State, Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi completed 20-of-31 passes for 195 yards, with Marvin McNutt, Jr. grabbing seven receptions for 92 yards. Freshman tailback Marcus Coker led Iowa's ground game with 70 yards on just nine carries. Stanzi ranks third in the conference with 243.4 passing yards, while McNutt is fifth with 68.4 receiving yards each time out. Defensively, Minnesota is sixth in the Big Ten against the pass (207.5), ninth in total yards allowed (408.0), 10th in scoring (33.8), and 11th against the run (200.5). Two weeks ago the Gophers still gave up 34 points to Illinois but their offense managed to rally to secure the win. Gary Tinsley led Minnesota with 12 tackles, including two stops for loss. Kyle Theret and Keanon Cooper each collected nine tackles on the day. Tinsley is ninth in the conference with 7.8 stops per outing, followed by Theret in 11th at 7.6.
And just how Iowa’s Stanzi has been efficient this season, Minnesota’s Adam Weber has been reliable for the Gophers throughout his entire career. The senior quarterback will tie the Big Ten’s all-time record for consecutive starts (50) after taking the first snap on Saturday. Weber has been the constant for Minnesota over the past four years and enters his final collegiate game as one of just five conference signal callers to throw for more than 10,000 yards in a career. Weber currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten at 228.6 passing yards per game. Two weeks ago in the win over Illinois, Weber was 20-of-36 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’ll need to be turnover-free again on Saturday as the Hawkeyes’ defense is second in the nation in turnover margin (+1.27). Iowa also ranks sixth nationally in rushing defense (93.3) and scoring defense (15.5), 14th in total defense (311.2) and 20th in pass efficiency defense (113.06). Last year Iowa kept Minnesota off the scoreboard for the second straight season, which marked the first time that had happen since the 1955 and 1956 campaigns. Iowa looks to continue that trend and couple that with its recent momentum on defense. The Hawkeyes held the powerful Ohio State offense 100 yards and 20 points under its season average while collecting two interceptions last week. Jeremiha Hunter, who is currently 10th in the conference with 7.6 tackles per game, led the way with 11 stops, while Micah Hyde added nine hits to go with a pick. Freshman linebacker James Morris had nine tackles, giving him at least nine stops for the fourth straight game. Look for quite the action in the return game as well, as Minnesota's Troy Stoutermire (27.9) and Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (27.1) rank first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten in kickoff return average.
(7-4, 3-4 Big Ten)
Northwestern at No. 7 Wisconsin
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 • 2:30 p.m. CT • Madison, Wis. • Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
ABC • Announcers: Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman, Jeannine Edwards
Series: Wisconsin leads, 55-33-5 • Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2009: Northwestern 33, Wisconsin 31
(10-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
Should history have anything to say about it, at least a share of the Big Ten Championship is in store for Wisconsin come Saturday afternoon. The Badgers hold the all-time series advantage over Northwestern by a 55-33-5 count, including a 24-14-2 mark in Madison. The home team has won each of the last five games between the Badgers and Wildcats. UW has exploded for an average of 40.7 points in its last three outings against NU and the Wildcats last win in Madison came 10 years ago. So, historically speaking, things are looking promising for Wisconsin, which has won 10 regular-season games for just the third time in school history. A victory over the Wildcats would give the Badgers at least a share of their 12th Big Ten title in school history and first since 1999.
Northwestern enters the regular-season finale ranked third in the conference in passing (253.5), fifth in total yards (402.3), seventh in rushing (148.8) and eighth in scoring (25.6). Last Saturday was the first week the Wildcats were played without injured quarterback Dan Persa, who had accounted for 75 percent of NU’s offense. Forced into the starter role was redshirt freshman Evan Watkins, who completed 10-of-20 passes for 135 yards and one interception. Watkins has a strong receiving corps to his disposal, led by Jeremy Ebert, who leads the conference with 79.6 receiving yards per game. Ebert paces the Wildcats in catches (56), receiving yards (876), and yards per reception average (15.6,). In addition, Sidney Stewart(32) and Demetrius Fields (22) are Northwestern’s other wideouts with 20 or more catches this season. On the ground, the Wildcats are led by Mike Trumpy, who last week paced NU for the fifth time with a career-high 129 yards. He scored both Northwestern offensive touchdowns, including one that was an 80-yard run – the longest NU run from scrimmage since 1986. After failing to have a 100-yard rusher in 20 straight games, Northwestern has touted a 100-yard rusher three times in its past four games. Wisconsin is third in the Big Ten in total defense, having allowed just 327.1 yards per game. The Badgers also rank among the top four in the league in scoring defense (20.3), rushing defense (129.0) and pass defense (198.1). Last week against Michigan, the Badgers held the Wolverines scoreless in the first half for the first time this season and then held them to 168 yards on the ground, U-M’s second-lowest total of the year. UW has become more aggressive on defense as well. After forcing just seven turnovers its first eight games, Wisconsin has nine takeaways in the last three games. Antonio Fenelus has had a hand in six takeaways this season, including two fumble recoveries, an interception and a forced fumble in his last three games. J.J. Watt has been the Badgers’ most consistent playmaker. His 18.0 tackles for loss are tied for seventh in the country, while his 6.0 sacks are third in the Big Ten. He has recovered two fumbles, forced another and recorded his first career interception against Michigan.
Northwestern is facing a red-hot Wisconsin offense that has scored 30 or more points in each of its last six games. In their past two contests, the Badgers have scored a combined 131 points. Wisconsin is averaging 40.9 points per game, tops in the Big Ten, seventh in the country, and 6.5 points ahead of the school record. UW is second in the conference in rushing (239.9), third in total yards (440.3), and ninth in passing (223.9). Wisconsin's trio of running backs--John Clay, James White and Montee Ball--have combined for 2,510 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns. All three running backs have scored 13 TDs apiece. Under center, Scott Tolzien leads the country and is on pace to break the Big Ten single-season record for completion percentage, having completed 73.9 percent of his passes this season. He also ranks seventh in the country in pass efficiency rating at 163.0. The Northwestern defense is coming off a performance that has the Badgers’ ground game as hungry as ever. The Wildcats gave up 519 yards on the ground last week and currently rank eighth in the conference with 172.1 rushing yards allowed each time out. NU also ranks eighth in total defense, giving up 402.6 yards per game. Brian Peters, who is tied in the Big Ten with 8.3 tackles per game, led Northwestern’ s defense last week with a career-best 18 stops and two interceptions, one of which was a 59-yard interception return. Vince Browne is second in the league with 7.0 sacks and third with 14.0 tackles for loss.