Big Ten: Minnesota Gophers

Big Ten's lunch links

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
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Hoops, hoops everywhere. Here's some football:

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
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National Signing Day is just five days away, so this is now in my head. Don't judge me.

Big Ten class rankings analysis 

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
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National signing day is almost upon us and Big Ten teams have been feverishly adding prospects to their classes. Here is a look at the latest movement within the conference in the ESPN class rankings and trends from the past week.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
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There is only one weekend left for visits before signing day. Things are getting down to the wire, which means we are set to see a lot of activity in a short amount of time.

Here is a look at what happened within the Big Ten this past week.


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
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There have been commitments and decommitments across the board in the Big Ten, which means there has been movement among the class rankings.

As signing day approaches, teams will be looking to fill the final spots in their class. Here is a look at trends and a few items to watch within the conference:

Trending up: No Big Ten teams moved up in the class rankings for this week, but that doesn’t mean schools aren’t improving.

Penn State has been on a tear recently with James Franklin and his staff on board. Despite losing ESPN 300 defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) to Florida and defensive back Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore/Gilman) to NC State, the Nittany Lions have added some big pieces as well.

The most recent was three-star athlete Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who flipped his commitment from Vanderbilt to Penn State. McSorley was originally recruited as a defensive back by Franklin at Vanderbilt, but then the offer was switched to quarterback while he was committed to the Commodores.

McSorley will add some depth and competition at the quarterback spot for Penn State, as Christian Hackenberg and early enrollee Michael O’Connor are the only other quarterbacks on the roster.

Indiana has also been on a nice run, picking up five commitments in the past week, from linebacker Tegray Scales (Cincinnati/Colerain), running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita), athlete Waynedriko Smith (Orlando, Fla./Orangewood Christian) and defensive backs Zeke Walker (Cayce, S.C./Brookland-Cayce) and Tony Fields (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby).

Trending down: Michigan hasn’t lost any commitments in the 2014 class, but the Wolverines lost ESPN Junior 300 running back Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern) over the weekend.

Harris is the No. 1-ranked running back and No. 17 overall in the 2015 class. Losing Harris and fellow ESPN Junior 300 member George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) is a big blow to the 2015 class.

Add in the fact that Michigan’s main remaining target for the 2014 class, Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) could end up not picking Michigan and could end up at rival Michigan State or Ohio State, that’s more bad news for Michigan.

The Wolverines haven’t landed a commitment since August and steadily have been moving down the class rankings. If the coaches miss on McDowell, that would mean they missed on three major targets: McDowell, five-star defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) to Alabama and in-state defensive end Jhonathon Williams (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs) to Notre Dame.


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The football world has descended on Mobile, Ala., this week as the top senior college prospects gear up for the Reese's Senior Bowl on Saturday. Be sure to follow ESPN.com's coverage of practices and the game itself as players audition before NFL coaches, general managers and other personnel types.

Here are a few takeaways after reading some of the Senior Bowl coverage:

  • [+] EnlargeRa'Shede Hageman
    Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsMinnesota defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman has impressed scouts this week at the Senior Bowl practices.
    Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has impressed a lot of folks in Mobile and strengthened his case to be a first-round pick in May's draft. Hageman blossomed as a senior for the Gophers, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, and has shined alongside other defensive linemen like Pitt's Aaron Donald (who won the Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award). At 6-foot-6 and 318 pounds, Hageman has a unique frame and unique abilities that are showing up right now.
  • Kain Colter played mostly quarterback at Northwestern, but his cameos at wide receiver underscored his ability to excel at the position. He's playing exclusively at wideout during Senior Bowl week and has caught the eye of the ESPN Scouts Inc. crewInsider, which sees him as a slot receiver who compares in some ways to another former Big Ten quarterback-turned-NFL-receiver, one-time Indiana star Antwaan Randle El.
  • Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland is another player generating buzz. Borland's height continues to be a topic of discussion, but as he did throughout a decorated Badgers career, he's getting it done on the field in impressive fashion. The Zach Thomas comparison is being made, and some also liken Borland to former Boston College standout Luke Kuechly, who has transitioned very well to the pro level with the Carolina Panthers.
  • While everyone continues to talk about Richard Sherman, another cornerback with a similar build to Sherman stood out at Monday's practice. Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who like Sherman began his college career at wide receiver, impressed onlookers with his length in press coverageInsider. NFL Media's Gil Brandt described Jean-Baptiste as "like a clone of Richard Sherman." At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Jean-Baptiste is part of the new wave of larger cornerbacks.
  • Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has drawn praise from Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage and others following some good practices. Fiedorowicz has told reporters in Mobile that there's more to his game than he displayed at Iowa, where he was used primarily as a blocker before emerging to record 75 receptions his final two seasons. His size has always jumped out, and he's showing how well he can catch passes this week.

There's much more to come from Mobile, so be sure to follow all of our Senior Bowl coverage.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
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As usual there is a ton of action happening around signing day. The Big Ten has had commitments, decommitments, offers and everything in between.

Here is a look at what took place within the conference on the recruiting trail this past week:


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Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
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I need my football fix. Someone should consider resurrecting the XFL ...

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
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Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?

Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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Let the (B1G) games begin ...
  • Bo Pelini was all business as Nebraska arrived at its bowl site and said that "obviously, not everybody made the trip" -- although he wouldn't specify who.
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As the calendar year winds down, there is still plenty to talk about within recruiting. Big Ten teams have been on a roll on the recruiting trail as of late, and each program is hoping that continues into signing day.

Here are five things for fans to watch as we head into the holiday season.

Under Armour Game

There are six Big Ten teams represented in the Under Armour All-America game this year with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State all having commitments scheduled to play in the game.

The game will be played Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla., but there will be plenty to watch before the big game. The participants will go through tough practices and skill competitions leading up to the event, which always has some interesting storylines.

The practices put the best players in the country against each other, so it’s a good measuring stick of top prospects.


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Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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The only thing scarier than Friday the 13th? Knowing there's nearly no football on Saturday the 14th ...

Texas Bowl

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
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Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4) vs. Syracuse Orange (6-6)

Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET, Houston (ESPN)


MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS BREAKDOWN
The Gophers were the surprise team in the Big Ten this year, as they overcame low expectations and fought through uncertainty surrounding coach Jerry Kill to clinch their first eight-win season in a decade.

[+] EnlargeRa'Shede Hageman
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsBehind dominating defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, the Gophers won eight games and are heading to a bowl.
Kill suffered his fifth game-day seizure on Oct. 5, took medical leave and began resuming some coaching duties a little more than three weeks later. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has taken over as needed, but the Gophers haven't missed a beat.

It's not as though this team is loaded with stars. Only one player -- DT Ra'Shede Hageman -- was a unanimous selection on the All-Big Ten team. But, week after week, the Gophers relied on a bend-but-don't-break defense (No. 17 in the nation in the red zone) and a run-heavy offense (200.9 ypg) to find a way to win.

Their bread and butter has been the run game, but the Gophers have played their best football when they have struck a balance. During their key four-game winning streak during the conference season -- against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State -- the Gophers averaged 182.5 passing yards per game compared to 121.5 yards outside of that streak.

Minnesota is still not one of the best teams in the Big Ten, as it lost to both Wisconsin and Michigan State. But, behind quarterback Philip Nelson and tailback David Cobb, the Gophers have taken a step forward -- and are now hoping for their first bowl win since 2004. -- Josh Moyer

vs.

SYRACUSE ORANGE BREAKDOWN
The Orange not only had key personnel losses to fill when the season started, they also had a new head coach and a new conference to call home. Doubters wondered how Syracuse would get back to a bowl game given all the questions.

[+] EnlargeTerrel Hunt
Kellen Micah/Icon SMITerrel Hunt delivered Syracuse past Boston College to make the Orange bowl eligible.
Well, it took nearly every second of the season, but Syracuse got the job done. The Orange became bowl eligible on the final weekend of the regular season with a 34-31 win over Boston College, securing the victory on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Terrel Hunt to Josh Parris with 6 seconds remaining. This is the first time since 1998-1999 Syracuse is going to consecutive bowl games.

It was not pretty at times. Drew Allen started the season at quarterback but threw too many interceptions and was benched after three starts. Hunt was better, but he was nowhere near elite. He didn’t throw his first touchdown pass in league play until the second-to-last game of the season. There were ugly losses to Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech, too.

But first-year coach Scott Shafer was able to keep his team together. What got his team four ACC wins was its physical play. Jerome Smith had 840 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season, and the rushing defense played inspired. In three of those wins, Syracuse held its opponents to a combined 13 points.

In addition, Jay Bromley posted nine sacks and forced three fumbles to lead the defense. The Orange ended up in a tie for third in the Atlantic Division. Certainly not a bad way to open Year 1 in the ACC.
-- Andrea Adelson

Big Ten primer: Week 14

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
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This is the final week of the regular season. So sit back, relax, enjoy -- and try not to think about just how long you'll have to wait until next year.

Noon ET

Minnesota (8-3, 4-3) at No. 11 Michigan State (10-1, 7-0), BTN: The Spartans will be in the Big Ten title game no matter what, but a loss eliminates their hope for an at-large BCS berth. Minnesota has been the biggest surprise in the conference this season, and a victory would cement its status as one of the bigger surprises in the BCS. But the Gophers' run-first offense could have quite a bit of trouble against Michigan State's top-ranked run defense.

No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) at Michigan (7-4, 3-4), ABC: This has not been a season to remember for the Wolverines -- but that's also what makes The Game so great. If Michigan can somehow pull off the upset, then you have to consider this year a success on some level. The Wolverines have twice knocked off a a heavily favored, undefeated OSU team in series history -- and Brady Hoke sure could use a landmark victory here. The Buckeyes have their sights set on a national title, though, and Braxton Miller will do everything possible to ensure his team a spot.

3:30 ET

Penn State (6-5, 3-4) at No. 15 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1), ESPN: The Badgers defense still remembers last season, when Zach Zwinak carried the ball 36 times and rumbled for 179 yards in a Penn State win -- and they want revenge. Gary Andersen's squad is a three-touchdown favorite, and Penn State's defense has struggled against running backs who like to bounce outside. Bill O'Brien is looking to build off something for the future, but he won't have an easy time at Camp Randall.

Purdue (1-10, 0-7) at Indiana (4-7, 2-5), BTN: There's not really a whole lot to play for here, outside of saving some embarrassment. The Boilermakers haven't beaten an FBS team for 53 weeks and, if they lose here, they will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst Big Ten teams of the 2000s. Indiana's uptempo offense has given something for fans in Bloomington to be excited about ... but the defense is among the worst in the country. Both of these teams have a lot of work to do during the offseason.

Northwestern (4-7, 0-7) at Illinois (4-7, 1-6), BTN: It seems like an eternity ago when Pat Fitzgerald's name graced national headlines and debates were circulating about whether the Wildcats had finally taken that step from good to great. The season started somewhat similarly in Illinois after a 3-1 start and finally looked like it had gone from punching bag to bowl contender. But the teams have combined for just one victory since October. Now, both teams are looking for something -- anything -- to build from before they head into the long offseason.

Weather

The season hasn't been kind to a lot of Big Ten teams, but the weather sure is cooperating for the last week of the regular season. It'll be especially nice in Bloomington, Ind., and Champaign, Ill., where it's mostly sunny with temperatures climbing to the mid-40s.

All the other Big Ten destinations will see similar weather -- some clouds with temperatures in the high-30s. No precipitation appears to be on its way to any home field today.

Top Week 14 stories

What to watch in the Big Ten | Predictions | Did you know?

Michigan State-Ohio State roundtable

Michigan AD defends Brady Hoke

One day, Bo will know Bo

Meyer's rivalry approach is 'over the top'

Buckeyes' Shazier in position for hardware

If needed, Dantonio will campaign for BCS

Andersen says Badgers are BCS worthy

Video: Penn State LB Mike Hull

Illinois' Steve Hull (!) going out with a bang

Big Ten lunchtime links

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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Take your leftover turkey home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you've got a stew going.

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