Monday, November 8, 2010
Big Ten Week 10 rewind/Week 11 preview
By Adam Rittenberg
It's time to take a look back at Week 10 before peeking ahead to Week 11.
Team of the week: Michigan. The Wolverines are at least the Big Ten's "one-third of a team of the week" after a historic offensive performance against Illinois. Rich Rodriguez's crew racked up 67 points, 676 offensive yards and 33 first downs Saturday, and it needed all of it to outlast Illinois 67-65 in three overtimes. More amazing is the fact that Michigan overcame five turnovers and a minus-4 turnover ratio to snap its three-game losing streak. Penn State also deserves some love after rattling off 35 unanswered points to record the biggest home comeback under coach Joe Paterno and give the 83-year-old his 400th coaching victory.
Best game: Illinois at Michigan. This likely will be the game of the year in the Big Ten when all is said and done. The Big Ten doesn't see many offensive shootouts like this, and some folks say it was the most exciting Big Ten regular-season game since Northwestern and Michigan combined for 105 points in 2000 (a 54-51 Northwestern win in regulation). The 132 combined points were the most ever scored in a game involving Michigan. The teams also combined for 1,237 offensive yards. The game featured two 100-yard rushers, two 100-yard receivers and a 300-yard passer.
Junior Hemingway's touchdown in the second overtime kept Michigan in the game.
Biggest play: Junior Hemingway's juggling catch on a pass nearly picked off by Illinois helped Michigan tie the score in the second overtime. If Illinois intercepts the ball, the game ends and Michigan's season teeters. Hemingway also wrong-footed several Illinois defenders on an electrifying 45-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The single best catch of the day came from Northwestern's Drake Dunsmore, who made a one-handed grab at full extension and managed to get his foot down in the back of the end zone for a touchdown at Beaver Stadium. Marvin McNutt's 52-yard touchdown reception late in the Indiana game gave Iowa the lead for good, while Brett Brackett's leaping touchdown catch with three seconds left in the first half gave Penn State a huge lift against Northwestern.
Specialist spotlight: Not a ton to choose from this week, but Iowa freshman Michael Meyer connected on four field-goal attempts in the win against Indiana. Meyer hit two 27-yarders and a 23-yarder in the first half before converting a career-long 42-yarder in the fourth quarter to cut Iowa's deficit to one. Illinois punter Anthony Santella continued his stellar season, averaging 47 yards on six attempts at Michigan. Punters Brad Nortman of Wisconsin and Cody Webster of Purdue both had nice games at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Most memorable moment: Easy one here. I'll never forget being on the field at Beaver Stadium when Paterno recorded his 400th career victory. Penn State players carried Paterno on their shoulders to midfield, a gesture he surprisingly enjoyed. The school then held a short ceremony that included a video montage of Paterno through the years and a crystal football presented to JoePa to commemorate No. 400. Paterno briefly addressed the crowd of 104,147, all of whom stayed to witness history. "People ask me why I've stayed here so long," the 83-year-old said. "Look around!" Just an amazing moment.
Game balls (given to players on winning or losing teams who didn't receive helmet stickers)
Michigan QB Tate Forcier and WR Junior Hemingway: Remember all the buzz about Forcier transferring? Michigan is very fortunate he stuck around. Forcier once again relieved an injured Denard Robinson and led Michigan to a huge win, completing 12 of 19 passes for 114 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He got a ton of help from Hemingway, his favorite target in 2009, as the receiver caught six passes for 104 yards and two scores.
Penn State RBs Evan Royster and Silas Redd: The senior and the freshman spurred Penn State's rushing attack against Northwestern, getting plenty of help from an improving offensive line. Royster and Redd combined for 265 rush yards and a touchdown on 36 carries. They became the first Penn State tandem to both eclipse 130 rush yards in a game since Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell did so against Iowa on Sept. 25, 1971.
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball: I can't say enough about how much Ball has meant to Wisconsin the past two games. After coming up big late in the Iowa win, he relieved an injured John Clay against Purdue and rushed for a career-high 127 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Michigan State LB Greg Jones and S Marcus Hyde: Jones did his thing with a team-leading nine tackles, including 2.5 for loss, in the win against Minnesota. Hyde bounced back from a rough day at Iowa to record an interception, which he returned 41 yards, and two pass breakups. Jones now ranks second in team history in career tackles for loss with 44.5.
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase and RBs Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford: These three certainly did their part to help Illinois' cause at the Big House. Scheelhaase recorded 211 pass yards and three touchdowns to go along with 101 rush yards and a score. Leshoure added 120 rush yards and three touchdowns, and he also recorded two touchdown receptions. His five total touchdowns are tied for fourth most in Big Ten history. Ford had 101 rush yards and a score on only 10 carries.
Northwestern QB Dan Persa: His team melted down in the second half, but Persa earned a ton of respect from Penn State with his gutsy performance. A week after a concussion, Persa racked up 109 rush yards and two touchdowns to go along with 201 pass yards and a touchdown against Penn State. "If you give me 22 Dan Persas, I'll show you ... a national champion," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
The Big Ten named Michael Mauti the Co-Defensive player of the week for his performance against Northwestern.
Penn State LB Michael Mauti: After a slow start, the sophomore is starting to hit his stride for the Nittany Lions' defense. Mauti set career highs in both tackles (11) and tackles for loss (3) and recorded a sack in the win against Northwestern. He has recorded career bests in tackles in each of the last two games.
Iowa WR Marvin McNutt: McNutt once again showed why he's one of the Big Ten's best deep threats, hauling in a 52-yard touchdown with 2:50 left against Indiana. The junior finished with six catches for 126 yards in Iowa's win.
Deep breath. Now let's take a look ahead at Week 11.
No. 13 Iowa (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) at Northwestern (6-3, 2-3): The Hawkeyes' late-game fortunes turned in Bloomington, as Damarlo Belcher's drop in the end zone kept Iowa alive for the Big Ten title. Only one hurdle remains between Iowa and its Nov. 20 showdown against Ohio State, but this is always a tricky game. Northwestern has won four of the teams' past five meetings, although just one of those has come in Evanston.
Indiana (4-5, 0-5) at No. 7 Wisconsin (8-1, 4-1): After a mini scare at Purdue, Wisconsin returns to Camp Randall Stadium, where it is 41-4 since the start of the 2004 season. The Badgers should have running backs John Clay and James White healthy for an Indiana defense that allows 166.1 rush yards a game. Indiana still needs two wins to get bowl eligible but gave Wisconsin a tough game last year, mounting a late before falling 31-28.
Michigan (6-3, 2-3) at Purdue (4-5, 2-3): Rodriguez and the Wolverines finally are bowl eligible, and a win Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium likely ensures the coach will return for a fourth season in 2011. Robinson is expected to return after injuring his head against Illinois, while Purdue's quarterback situation remains fluid with Sean Robinson, Rob Henry and possibly Justin Siller, who led the Boilers to a win against Michigan in 2008.
Minnesota (1-9, 0-6) at Illinois (5-4, 3-3): The Illini take a second stab at becoming bowl eligible against last-place Minnesota. Watch out for Scheelhaase, Leshoure, Ford and the Illinois rushing attack to have a big day against a Minnesota defense that has slipped to 106th nationally against the run. MarQueis Gray finally got a shot at quarterback for the Gophers on Saturday, and it'll be interesting to see how many snaps he takes against an angry Illinois defense.
Penn State (6-3, 3-2) at No. 9 Ohio State (8-1, 4-1): This year's matchup lacks the hype of the previous two meetings, but Penn State's recent surge has added some intrigue to the rivalry. The Nittany Lions come in on a three-game win streak and are getting better play from an offense led by quarterback Matt McGloin and Royster. Ohio State is rested after an open week and begins its quest for another Big Ten title in its signature month under coach Jim Tressel.