Saturday, September 24, 2011
Halftime around the B1G afternoon games
By Brian Bennett
We've reached halftime in the 3:30 p.m. games, and so far the big news is coming from Champaign:
Western Michigan 13, Illinois 10 I called this a potential trap game and a letdown for the Illini, who upset Arizona State last week and have their Big Ten opener against rival Northwestern so far. Whether that's what is going on in is up for debate, but the Illini are lucky to be as close as they are at the break. The Broncos have controlled the clock and have moved the ball very effectively through the air. Alex Carder has already thrown the ball 34 times. The Illinois defense came up with big stops when Western Michigan threatened the end zone most of the half, but Carder finally broke through with a touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense haven't had the ball enough, and the sluggish Illini are officially on high upset alert.
Ohio State 20, Colorado 7: Braxton Miller has had his freshman moments, but his first start has to be considered a success so far. Miller didn't complete his first pass until the 9:44 mark of the second quarter -- drawing a large cheer from the crowd -- but he followed that with a 32-yard touchdown strike to Devin Smith. Nice freshman-to-freshman connection there. The Buckeyes led 17-0, but Colorado finally showed some signs of life on a touchdown drive that ended with a pass to former Michigan receiver Toney Clemons. Before that, Ohio State's defense had dominated, and the Buckeyes were controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. They still have to feel pretty good at intermission, especially after the Buffs gave them a gift field goal at the end of the half by fumbling a punt return inside the red zone.
Wisconsin 31, South Dakota 3: Almost as soon as I wrote that the Badgers were off to a flat start, they ripped off two quick touchdowns, then another before the half. That's the danger you face with that Wisconsin offense, both as a defense and a real-time blogger. Anyway, the Badgers should have no problems the rest of the way. Nick Toon is having a big day with 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns already. One major potential trouble spot: starting safety Shelton Johnson left the game on crutches. The Badgers are already thin at cornerback, and this doesn't help the depth in the secondary with Nebraska looming next week. Their goal should be to get out of this game without any further injuries.