Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Big Ten stock report: Week 9
By Brian Bennett
From Wall Street to Main Street, everyone's waiting on this stock report:
Kyle Carter: The Penn State tight end was named Big Ten freshman of the week after recording six catches for a career-high 85 yards in his first career start at Iowa. Carter now has 10 catches in his last two games and has become the second option in the passing game behind Allen Robinson. "He's really smart," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's an instinctive kid and he can play a lot of different positions. That position in our offense, that 'F' tight end, is very difficult to learn, second only to quarterback. And he's done a really nice job."
Drew Dileo: The Michigan receiver had four catches for 92 yards against Michigan State, including a late one to help get his team into field-goal range for the winning kick. The junior had never caught more two passes in a Big Ten game before Saturday.
Chris Fields: The Ohio State receiver had no catches before last week. So naturally he came up with the touchdown catch with three seconds left in regulation against Purdue, one of his three receptions for 44 yards in the game. Head coach Urban Meyer said that Fields "changed his whole dynamic, the way he works, his practice habits and his performance" in order to gain playing time.
Quincy Enunwa: Theme alert! Yet another pass catcher sees his stock rise. Nebraska's Enunwa has been known as a tough guy and a great blocker. Last week at Northwestern, he became a go-to receiver. Enunwa had six receptions for a career-high 110 yards, including four in the fourth quarter. And he did it despite some serious pain in his right shoulder. "He played a big-time game," Bo Pelini said. "He really stepped up and made some great plays for us down the stretch."
Devin Smith: No, not Ohio State receiver Devin Smith. Not Purdue offensive lineman Devin Smith. Not even former Penn State receiver Devon Smith. We're talking about the Wisconsin cornerback. Bret Bielema turned heads this summer when he said that a healthy Smith might have meant an undefeated season for the Badgers in 2011. The fifth-year senior is showing why Bielema said that with two interceptions in his past three games. "He's really gotten into a groove the last two or three games with his reads and reactions," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "He's playing with confidence. ... I'm sad to say that it's his last year with his, because he's a kid who's grown every day in our program."
Northwestern's fourth quarters: The Wildcats made a great late comeback to beat Syracuse in the opener and held off Vanderbilt and Boston College in the next two weeks. But lately, the end of games haven't gone so well. Northwestern led Penn State 28-17 in the fourth quarter and lost, and last week, it led Nebraska 28-16 in the final period and lost. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald doesn't think there's any underlying theme to the losses and made his favorite "Major League" reference when asked about it this week. "I bought a rubber chicken, so this week I’m going to cut the head off of it like Cerrano did," he said. "You guys are overanalyzing this, man. If you dwell on it, history has a chance to repeat itself."
Iowa's offensive line health: The Hawkeyes got hit by a double whammy from the injury bug on their offensive line last week at Penn State. Starting left tackle Brandon Scherff (broken leg) and starting guard Andrew Donnal (knee) are both lost for the year. Iowa will now turn to guys like Austin Blythe and Conor Boffeli to try and fill in the gaps.
Purdue's PATs: The Boilermakers have somehow already missed five extra points this season. You had to know that was going to come back and haunt the team at some point, and it did so on Saturday. Paul Griggs' PAT was blocked just 17 seconds left in the game. That point proved crucial as Ohio State was able to use a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the game at 22 at the end of regulation before going on to win 29-22. The highest-percentage scoring play in football has become a difficult one for Purdue.
Michigan State's running game: We knew the Spartans' passing game would struggle, but running game woes are also contributing to the team's scoring woes. Michigan State is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in conference action, tied with Illinois for the worst mark in the league. Le'Veon Bell has been held to just 3.4 yards per carry against conference opponents; Michigan and Ohio State tied Bell up to the tune of just 113 yards on 43 attempts (2.6 ypc). Injuries on the offensive line are a big reason why the running game -- and the Spartans' season -- has stalled.