Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Ten Week in Review: Week Five

What a week in the Big Ten! Leaving the big Illini victory to Jeff, let’s take a lot at what went down around the conference:

Game of the Week

Wisconsin 37, Michigan State 34 – The Spartans exposed the weak Badger defense Saturday, but couldn’t shut down PJ Hill or Tyler Donovan enough to get a win. MSU had two chance in the fourth, but missed a field goal with a few minutes left and stalled out on 4th down in the waning seconds. Wisconsin TE Travis Beckum (10 rec., 132 yds.) had his first real big game of 2007, and Tyler Donovan got another nice win to move to 7-0 as a starter. The Spartans have nothing to be ashamed of; there was no meltdown, just coming up a few points short against a better team on the road. Brian Hoyer was solid (22-36, 323 yds.) and Javon Ringer (10 rec., 145 yds.) showed explosiveness we’ve rarely seen from him. The Badgers’ schedule gets really tough after this, with road trips the next two weeks at Illinois and Penn State; if the defense plays like they did today, they’ll lose one or both of those games.

Best of the Rest

Michigan 28, Northwestern 16 – So, Michigan’s back, right? Maybe not. The Wolverines got beat up at Northwestern for the better part of three quarters before a 5 yard TD pass from Chad Henne to Carson Butler brought them within 2, at 16-14. After a Wildcat fumble, Adrian Arrington caught a TD pass to give Michigan the lead, and UM went on to win, 28-16. Here’s how ridiculous this game was: Northwestern committed 5 turnovers to Michigan’s 0. If someone told you Michigan would win the turnover battle by 5, and not take the lead until the mid-fourth quarter, you would have laughed, right? I have no idea what to expect of Michigan going forward, but Northwestern showed some sparks, with Omar Conteh getting 115 yards rushing to bring his career total to 213.

Ho Hum

Purdue 33, Notre Dame 19 – The Irish are improving and, to their credit, haven’t gone totally in the tank after the embarrassing start. But their best still wasn’t good enough Saturday, as they fell to Purdue 33-19, despite getting great work off the bench from deposed QB Evan Sharpley (16-26, 208 yards). ND’s best effort probably won’t be good enough until they face Navy at 0-8, so until then they’ve got to figure out this QB thing. Sharpley is better right now, but Clausen is obviously the future. Purdue got the win, but disappointed in a couple areas: Curtis Painter threw his second and third picks of the year, and the Boilers surrendered 377 yards to a passing attack that had previously been downright anemic.

Indiana 38, Iowa 20 – Two teams showed their true colors in Iowa City yesterday, as Indiana proved they are a contender for a solid bowl game this season, and the Hawkeyes showed how suspect their secondary really is, and how much they’ve fallen off since the glory days of the Kirk Ferentz era just a few short years ago. Iowa got torched for two long touchdowns in the first half, and fell victim to a flukey 71 yard fumble recovery TD by Indiana’s QB, Kellen Lewis (19-26, 322 yards). In addition to all Iowa’s other problems, they’ve got kicking issues now, as both Daniel Murray and Austin Signor continues their struggles, missing 3 kicks between them. With Penn State, Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State looming, Iowa could very, very easily be 0-6 in Big Ten play by November.


Ohio State 30, Minnesota 7 – Another workmanlike outing from the Buckeyes, who continue to roll along headed in to next weekend’s showdown in West Lafayette. OSU is giving up 7.2 points per game, and stayed right on course with a lockdown effort on a solid Gopher attack, holding Minny to just 45 yards on the ground. What is there to say about this game? OSU was solid as can be; they got production from QB Todd Boeckman (18-29, 208 yards, 2 TD), RB Chris Wells (24 cars, 116 yards) and, of course, the defense.

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