Big Ten: Adam Griffin
- Penn State's quarterback battle is drawing near its conclusion, though Bill O'Brien says it's still very even. True freshman tight end Adam Breneman will play this season.
- Wisconsin coaches are debating whether to use a pair of talented freshman linebackers now or redshirt them. Defense dominated a Badgers scrimmage, so much so that Gary Andersen called out the offense. Jim Delany was impressed by Wisconsin's updated facilities.
- Analyzing the competition at cornerback for Nebraska. Defensive lineman Avery Moss had his indecency case continued. Aaron Curry is focused on getting better in a heated defensive tackle competition.
- Shoulder surgery will likely end the career of Ohio State's Adam Griffin. The Buckeyes' defensive linemen don't act like freshmen. A closer look at freshman safety Vonn Bell.
- The pressure is on Michigan's defensive line to get more sacks. James Ross played on instinct last year but is striving for perfection this season at linebacker.
- Loren Tate tries to get at the root of the problem for Illinois football. Some Illini camp updates.
- Purdue's Jordan Roos likes to eat and could help the offensive line be more physical. Notes from the Boilers practice on Thursday. USA Today makes a camp stop in West Lafayette.
- Michigan State's Micajah Reynolds was instrumental in saving a shooting victim's life, police say. Andrew Maxwell continues to look like the Spartans' starting quarterback. MSU's receivers have played well so far in camp.
- Minnesota's Jon Christenson has given up social media and is concentrating on playing center. The Gophers feel good about their progress. The offense is ahead of the defense right now for Jerry Kill's team.
- Tyler Scott is now the veteran mainstay on the Northwestern defensive line. Ifeadi Odenigbo benefited from redshirting last year.
- A preview of Iowa's opening opponent, Northern Illinois. A Hawkeyes season preview.
- Linebacker Flo Hardin could be a key part of Indiana's defense (subscription required). The defensive line must improve for the Hoosiers to move forward.
Up next in our series is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who return to the practice field this week after enjoying (hopefully not too much) spring break ...
Tyvis Powell, DB, redshirt freshman, 6-foot-3, 201 pounds
There are a whole lot of opportunities to emerge on the Buckeyes' defense this spring, with six starters gone from the front seven and cornerback Travis Howard also exhausting his eligibility. Powell emerged quickly as a potential breakout guy, working with the first string as a defensive back in nickel coverage when Ohio State opened its spring drills earlier this month.
With more and more spread offenses around the Big Ten and the country, the nickel look should be in heavy use this season. And Powell presents an intriguing option there as one of the taller defensive backs you'll see. Head coach Urban Meyer said Powell "earned that right in the offseason" to line up as a starter early on and said he had "done everything right." That doesn't guarantee any fall playing time, of course, especially since Ohio State has a lot of options at corner with guys like Doran Grant, Armani Reeves, Adam Griffin and talented early enrollees like Cam Burrows and Eli Apple.
But Powell has an early head start on being a spring breakout player. The Buckeyes hope to find plenty of them on defense these next few weeks.
Team of the week: Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan State all notched big wins on Saturday. But a team that rarely sniffs this space gets the honor this week: Indiana. The Hoosiers deserve a nod after winning their first Big Ten game since 2010 with a two-touchdown triumph at Illinois. Sure, the Illini are pretty awful. But Indiana has been close all year long and finally got over the hump with a road win where its defense played well. And with Wisconsin losing, the Hoosiers are still very much alive for the Leaders Division title, as crazy as that might sound. The best news for head coach Kevin Wilson might be that his team wasn't overly exuberant about beating Illinois. “I think they expected it," he said. "They weren’t just jumping up and down. We talked about how you want to get used to that feeling. We’ve been doing a lot of things right and it’s nice to get a Saturday scoreboard to go our way, and we want a lot more of those.”
Game of the week: A much anticipated Saturday featuring many closely-matched teams did not actually produce any truly great games. The best of the bunch was Michigan State's 16-13 overtime win at Wisconsin, though the two offenses made that one hard to watch for long stretches. But at least there was a good finish, finally, by the Spartans, who drove the field for a tying touchdown with 1:08 left and then won in the first overtime. "We've been close, and we just kept coming," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "What I'd like to say is basically, 'Hey, we're not going to quit.'"
Biggest play: We go back to East Lansing for Andrew Maxwell's game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to Bennie Fowler on third-and-8. It was a great back-shoulder throw by Maxwell and an even better grab by Fowler, who had to adjust to the ball while falling backward. Both players had drawn heavy criticism this season for their play, so it was nice to see them both succeed in a key moment. “This could be the spark that we need to kind of carry us over and propel us the rest of the way,” Maxwell said.
Best call: The Nebraska defenders turned down an offer to have their blackshirts handed out after last week's win at Northwestern. They wanted to show consistency first, and they did so with a signature performance against Michigan. The Wolverines mustered only 188 yards and failed to score a touchdown (for the second straight week) in Nebraska's key 23-9. Yes, the injury to Denard Robinson was a huge factor, but it wasn't like Michigan was moving the ball at will before that, and the Huskers knocked him out of the game. Nebraska tortured Wolverines backup Russell Bellomy, who completed only 3-of-16 throws and had three interceptions. The blackshirts were well earned with this one.
Big Man on Campus (Offense): Northwestern QB Kain Colter. When you call out your own offense for lacking an identity, as Colter did last week to ESPN.com, you'd better back it up. Colter sure did, running the ball 26 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns and throwing for 80 yards and a score in the Wildcats' 28-17 win over Iowa.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): Michigan State DE William Gholston. The highly-talented junior hasn't always lived up to sky high expectations, but he was all over the place against Wisconsin. Gholston had 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack and put the hit on quarterback Joel Stave that changed the game (and possibly both teams' season).
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Ohio State's Adam Griffin has been a special teams ace, and he made one huge play at Penn State. The Nittany Lions called for a fake punt on the Buckeyes' 43, and punter Alex Butterworth threw to Derek Day, who was open for the first-down reception. But Griffin hustled back to break up the pass, and Ohio State would then march in for a touchdown that made it 21-10. "I thought that was the turning point of the game," Urban Meyer said afterward. Griffin's dad, two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin, had to be proud.
Big (Fresh)man on Campus: Get ready to see a lot of Philip Nelson highlights over the next three or four years. Minnesota's precocious true freshman was tremendous in just his second college game, completing 11 of his first 12 passes and going 15-for-22 for 246 yards with three touchdowns, all in the first half, in a 44-28 win over Purdue. Nelson was so good that Gophers fans are asking what took so long for him to play.
Worst hangover: Wisconsin. Just when it seemed like the Badgers had bounced back and were ready to shoot up the Top 25, their offense got completely shut down against Michigan State. Worse, reports say Stave is out for the year with a broken collarbone, and backup Danny O'Brien was once again wildly ineffective at quarterback. Wisconsin probably will still go to the Big Ten championship game, but that beeping you hear is the sound of the Badgers backing their way into Indy.
Strangest moment: Midway through the second quarter in the Michigan State-Wisconsin game, we saw one of the ugliest series you'll ever (hopefully) witness.
First, the Spartans blocked a punt after Drew Meyer took his eye off the snap and a Keystone Cops reenactment ensued. Michigan State ook over on the Badgers' 11-yard line, in great position to score. Except that the Spartans possession went like this: holding penalty, incomplete pass, false start, sack, incomplete pass, delay of game penalty. When it was all said and done, Michigan State had lost 23 yards and somehow winded up punting on fourth-and-33. That "drive" appeared to encapsulate all of the Spartans' problems this season in one horrific sequence, but at least they solved them late for the win.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Ineligi-Bowl turned into an indelible moment for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes came into a frenzied Beaver Stadium and sliced up a red-hot Penn State team 35-23, leaving no doubt which team is the best in the Leaders Division and the entire Big Ten. Ohio State improved to 9-0 and inched one step closer to its goal of a perfect 12-0 season under first-year coach Urban Meyer.
Here's how it went down:
It was over when: Braxton Miller squeezed a third-down pass into the hands of Jake Stoneburner, who had nothing but daylight in front of him for a 72-yard touchdown catch with 6:11 remaining. That made it 35-16 and extinguished any hope of a Penn State comeback.
Game ball goes to: The Ohio State defense. Penn State's offense came into the night on a roll, but the Buckeyes applied pressure to quarterback Matt McGloin all night and didn't allow an offensive touchdown by the Nittany Lions until there was 9:49 left in the game.
Stat of the game: Ohio State had 233 rushing yards to just 32 for Penn State. Miller piled up 134 of those, along with two scores. He was able to dominate the game in the second half despite completing just 7-of-19 passes.
Second-guessing: Bill O'Brien's gambles have mostly paid off this season. But one backfired on fourth-and-nine from the Ohio State 43 in the third quarter. Penn State went for the fake punt, and Alex Butterworth's pass was broken up on a nice play by the Buckeyes' Adam Griffin (son of two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin). Penn State's defense had been playing really well, and the flipping of field position helped Ohio State drive in for a touchdown to make it 21-10.
What it means: It was an odd meeting of two good teams who can't play in a bowl game, so no result was going to have any postseason implications. But both teams are eligible to win the Leaders Division title, and now Ohio State has a virtual two-game lead in that race with three games left. Hey, it's something.
More importantly, it continued the Buckeyes' impressive march through the Big Ten in Meyer's first year. If Ohio State keeps on winning, Associated Press voters are going to have an interesting time figuring out to do with this team, which hasn't lost but also hasn't beaten a team currently ranked in the Top 25.
For Penn State, the loss halted some serious momentum as the team had won five straight coming into Saturday. The Nittany Lions had hoped for a dominating performance to impress recruits, more than 100 of whom attended the game. This was as close to a bowl game as Penn State is going to play over the next few years. Still, one loss doesn't erase what this team is accomplishing this year.
- Tim Beckman is hoping Illinois can handle the difficult trip out to the desert. The Illini quarterback situation remains a mystery.
- Indiana receiver Nick Stoner has used faith to guide him through life and his football career. The Hoosiers are hungry for a road victory.
- A tale of the tape between James Vandenberg and Steele Jantz. Iowa defensive lineman Joe Gaglione has risen to the challenge as a senior.
- Michigan played 12 true freshmen in the opener and could use more this season. Hard work paid off for some Wolverines walk-ons who earned scholarships.
- Several current Michigan State players were there the day Central Michigan won in Spartan Stadium in 2009. The Spartans' receivers are ready to improve upon a shaky opening performance.
- A hockey rivalry led to this week's football game between Minnesota and New Hampshire.
- Fast-paced offenses are all the rage, and Nebraska is joining the party. Walk-on Tyler Wullenwaber is seeing some time at receiver for the Huskers.
- Northwestern freshman Ifeadi Odenigbo talks about getting his feet wet this week against Vanderbilt.
- Adam Griffin, son of Archie Griffin, is looking to make his own name at Ohio State and is becoming a special-teams ace.
- Derek Day has gone from walk-on to starting running back for Penn State. Bill O'Brien is looking to change an 0-6 record at Virginia from his ACC days.
- Purdue takes a lot of confidence, if not previous success, into Notre Dame Stadium this weekend.
- Mike Taylor is at the top of the list of Wisconsin players looking to atone for defensive mistakes in the opener. Badgers freshman tailback Vonte Jackson suffered a torn ACL, his second in as many years.
You can find coverage of the Buckeyes' game here, here and here.
Star of the game: Quarterback Braxton Miller completed 24 of 31 passes for 258 yards. The surprise star was Michael Thomas, who caught 12 balls for 131 yards to lead all receivers.
How it went down: Meyer signaled a change in direction right away, having players line up for 1-on-1 circle drills to start the spring game, as teammates and coaches raucously cheered them on.
And then the Buckeyes took the field and looked like a much different team, one that could actually throw the ball around. The two squads combined for 443 passing yards and attempted 55 throws in the Scarlet's 20-14 victory over the Gray.
“We’re going to be a very balanced offense; that was very imbalanced,” Meyer said. “However, that was done for a reason. We’re taking one of the worst passing teams in America a year ago, and we’ve got to find out if we can do that. People can stop the run. We know that.
“We know we can run at quarterback. We didn’t run it one time today. What we don’t know -- and, unfortunately, even after the spring game I still don’t know -- is if we can throw the ball. That was the objective today. I have a better opinion of some guys now.”
The Buckeyes used only about 30 percent of Meyer's playbook and were without running back Jordan Hall, who was held out for precautionary reasons. After a spring-long search for a playmaker in the passing game, they may have unearthed one in the freshman Thomas, whom Miller continually looked toward. The two played together at a high school all-star game in Florida before Thomas went off to prep school.
Meyer also gave some high marks to Miller.
“He had a very good spring, a very productive spring, but once again we grade our guys real hard," Meyer said. "First-rounders, that’s how I evaluate [quarterbacks] because I’ve had some first-rounders. He has a lot of talent.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier led the defense with eight tackles and a sack. Adam Griffin, son of two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, had an interception against Miller. Several potential defensive contributors sat out with injuries, while defensive lineman John Simon played sparingly.
A crowd of 81,112, the largest spring game attendance so far this year, was on hand for Meyer's Horseshoe debut. And in case anyone was wondering, Meyer continued the tradition of singing "Carmen Ohio" with the players after the game.
"I'm a big fan of tradition, and this is a school where we don't have to create a whole lot of tradition," Meyer said.
What Ohio State knows it has at running back is options. Lots of them. More than they've had in recent memory.
"Without question," offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said when asked if this is the most running back depth Ohio State has had during his tenure. "Going into [spring practice], yeah. There's some good depth at tailback, a position where you always need to have it."
Senior Brandon Saine and junior Dan "Boom" Herron entered spring practice atop the depth chart after combining for 1,339 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 307 carries in 2009. Neither man has established himself as a featured back, but both came on strong late in the season.
Saine had 232 rushing yards on 37 carries (6.27 ypc) in Ohio State's final three games, wins against Iowa, Michigan and Oregon. He had several breakaway runs against the Hawkeyes and Wolverines, and his true versatility showed in the Rose Bowl, as he caught two passes for 59 yards and a score. Herron, primarily a between-the-tackles runner, also had multiple receptions in his final two games last fall, and Bollman hinted that both backs would play larger roles in the passing game this fall, especially since Ohio State is thinner at wide receiver than running back.
"There's a lot of knowledge on what Boom and Brandon can do," Bollman said. "Should we have them carry the ball 50 times a day? I don't know if that accomplishes what we or they need. To help them increase their overall knowledge of the game, blitz pickup, being a bigger part of the passing game, trying to extend those guys that way is one way for us to approach things. And really test some of the younger guys carrying the ball."
Who are the young guys? Get out a pen and a big sheet of paper.
Jordan Hall stepped up nicely as a true freshman last fall, rushing for 248 yards on 48 carries (5.2 yards per rush). Sophomore fullback Jermil Martin brings a big body (5-foot-10, 235) to the backfield and averaged 7.6 yards per carry as a redshirt freshman in 2009.
Then there's redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry, the most talked-about back on the Buckeyes' roster. Fans wanted to see Berry last fall, but a nagging hamstring injury kept him sidelined. The heralded recruit from Miami is now in a position to compete for carries.
"He showed flashes of some things he can do," Bollman said, "but [he's] got to improve, got to become much more consistent, a guy that everybody can trust. Jordan got a lot of game experience, much more than he or us probably would have thought, and did a really good job. He really had an outstanding year last year.
"Those are a couple good guys to be battling for those next couple spots."
Carlos Hyde, another 2009 recruit, also is in the mix after spending last year at Fork Union Military Academy to boost his academics. Ohio State signed two more backs in February: decorated recruit Roderick Smith and Adam Griffin, the son of Archie.
"When you have all those guys, the secret is everybody progressing as a team," Bollman said. "If everybody starts worrying about how many touches they're getting, then it's easy for the whole thing to come apart at the seams. You've got to stay unified and understand roles."
Jack: That's inspired. You truly are the Picasso of loneliness.
- Texas sources tell the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls that the Longhorns aren't going to the Big Ten. The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein is hearing the same thing.
- The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice wants a better travel schedule, so bring on the Big Ten for Texas.
- Joe Paterno can see clearly now, while his famous glasses are getting big bids at auction.
- Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel surprised Archie Griffin's son by offering him a scholarship, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Four more current or former Michigan State players enter guilty pleas stemming from the residence hall fight.
- Randall McCray's departure from Wisconsin gives Bret Bielema a chance to hire a special teams coach, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Some candid remarks from Minnesota AD Joel Maturi about Tim Brewster and the football program in this Minnesota Daily story by Josh Katzenstein and Max Sanders.
- Illinois hopes Nick Immekus can boost its shaky kicking game, Jeremy Werner writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
Adam Griffin, the son of former Buckeyes star and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, has signed a national letter of intent, becoming the 19th member of Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class. The younger Griffin played running back, defensive back and handled returns for St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus.
"Adam Griffin has a passion to be an Ohio State Buckeye," head coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. "He will add a great deal to our football family on the field, in the locker room and on our campus. Adam clearly understands the privilege of being an Ohio State Buckeye."
Adam Griffin's signing comes as a bit of a surprise, as he didn't receive any other big-time offers. Ohio State had a few extra scholarships to give after coveted offensive linemen Matt James and Seantrel Henderson went elsewhere (Henderson could still end up as a Buckeye if he doesn't sign with USC).
ESPN Recruiting says of Griffin, "He lacks great overall size but he's well-defined and deceptively strong and sturdy. Runs with a low base and good balance. Displays good feet and is effective as both an inside and outside zone runner."
Archie Griffin is the president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31 Final Miami (FL) 21 South Carolina 24 Final/OT Boston College 30 Penn State 31 Final Nebraska 42 24 USC 45
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State