Big Ten: Devin Barclay

Let's look back before a very quick look ahead.

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarKirk Cousins and the Spartans celebrate after their 28-22 win against Penn State.
Team of the Week: Michigan State. The Spartans put the final stamp on a special season by winning at Penn State for the first time since 1965. The victory gave Michigan State a share of the Big Ten championship for the first time since 1990. Michigan State took control of the game early behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Edwin Baker and a stout defense, and held on late to prevail 28-22. Minnesota and Indiana both deserve mentions as well for winning rivalry games and earning the right to do this and this.

Biggest play: Two defensive plays propelled Minnesota and Indiana to wins Saturday. Gophers cornerback Troy Stoudermire stripped the ball from Iowa's Marcus Coker late in the fourth quarter, which led to Minnesota running out the clock to preserve a 27-24 victory. Indiana linebacker Jeff Thomas picked off a Rob Henry pass in overtime, allowing the Hoosiers to drive for the game-winning field goal. Michigan State's recovery of an onside kick after Penn State had cut its deficit to six points also stands out.

Specialist spotlight: Indiana freshman Mitch Ewald came up big against Purdue with two field goals, the first to send the game into overtime and the second to win it in the extra session. Minnesota's Eric Ellestad went 2-for-2 on field goals and recovered his own onside kick against Iowa, helping the Gophers jump out to a 10-0 lead. Ohio State's Jordan Hall prevented Michigan from gaining any momentum with an 85-yard kick return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Northwestern's Venric Mark had a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown against Wisconsin, and his 273 return yards mark the second-highest single-game total in Big Ten history. Ohio State's Devin Barclay went 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts. The day featured good punting performances from Purdue's Cody Webster (56-yard average, three inside the 20-yard line), Iowa's Ryan Donahue (47.5-yard average, two inside the 20-yard line), Michigan State's Aaron Bates (46.5-yard average, two inside the 20-yard line) and Wisconsin's Brad Nortman (39.6-yard average, four inside the 20-yard line).

Filling the void: A quick shoutout to Jeff Horton, who did a very good job in a very difficult situation at Minnesota as interim coach. Horton kept the team focused despite the midseason firing of head coach Tim Brewster, and the Gophers ended the year with two solid wins against Illinois and Iowa. Although Minnesota will bring in a new coach, I would hope Horton gets consideration to remain on the staff. Otherwise, I'm sure he'll latch on elsewhere.

Game balls (given to players on winning or losing teams not recognized in helmet stickers)

  • Ohio State defensive end Nathan Williams: Williams ended the regular season on a very strong note with 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups as Ohio State held Michigan scoreless in the second half.
  • Indiana receiver Tandon Doss: Doss recorded three touchdown catches for the second multi-touchdown game of his career. He added 18 rushing yards on two carries and had 117 yards on six kickoff returns with a long of 30 yards.
  • Indiana linebacker Jeff Thomas: In addition to the interception in overtime, Thomas recorded three tackles for loss against Purdue.
  • Michigan State cornerback Chris L. Rucker: The senior recorded three pass breakups, a forced fumble and five tackles for a playmaking secondary in the win against Penn State.
  • Purdue linebacker Jason Werner: Werner finished his college career by recording 3.5 tackles for loss and eight total tackles in the overtime loss to Indiana.
  • Minnesota running backs DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett: The Gophers backfield tandem finished an up-and-down season on a good note, combining for 158 rush yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in the win against Iowa.
  • Wisconsin safety Jay Valai: Valai recorded six tackles with a forced fumble and an interception as the Badgers recorded seven takeaways in the rout of Northwestern.
  • Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen: It was another rough day for the Wolverines' defense, but Van Bergen did his part with three tackles for loss, a sack and five total tackles.

There's only one Big Ten game on the docket this week and it comes to you Friday night on ESPN2.

Illinois (6-5) at Fresno State (7-4): The Illini can secure their first winning season since 2007 and possibly earn a berth to a Florida bowl with a victory. Fresno State typically plays very well at home, but has dropped games to Nevada and Hawaii on its home turf. The Bulldogs won last year's contest in Champaign 53-52 after one of the wildest plays you'll ever see, a two-point conversion by Fresno State offensive lineman Devan Cunningham following a tipped pass. Illinois' Mikel Leshoure rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns against Fresno State last year and comes off of a 330-yard rushing performance at Wrigley Field.
Let's take a look back at Week 12 before looking ahead to rivalry week.

Team(s) of the Week: Wisconsin and Illinois. Both teams get the nod for different reasons. The Badgers overcame their Michigan misery and won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1994. After Wisconsin's red-hot offense surged out to a 24-0 lead, the Badgers survived a mini scare in the third quarter before steamrolling Michigan with 28 consecutive designed run plays. Running backs James White and Montee Ball combined for 354 rush yards and six touchdowns in the win. Speaking of the ground game, no back in America had a bigger day than Illinois' Mikel Leshoure, who racked up a team-record 330 rushing yards against Northwestern. Behind Leshoure's brilliance, Illinois piled up 519 rush yards and claimed a must-win game against Northwestern at Wrigley Field to become bowl eligible.

[+] EnlargeOhio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor
Reese Strickland/US PresswireOhio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor overcame a pair of interceptions to lead the Buckeyes to a win.
Game of the Week: Ohio State at Iowa. The game featured three lead changes and an exciting fourth quarter defined by big plays on both sides of the ball. Both defenses came to play, and only one touchdown was scored in the first half. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor overcame two interceptions to lead a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives. After Buckeyes receiver DeVier Posey dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the end zone with the Buckeyes down 17-13, Pryor saved the day with a 14-yard scramble on fourth-and-10. Ohio State scored the go-ahead touchdown moments later and its defensive line stepped up down the stretch. Iowa's season of heartbreak continued, while Ohio State kept its streak of Big Ten titles intact.

Biggest play: Three immediately come to mind. Pryor's scramble on fourth-and-10 likely saved Ohio State's season. Michigan State's Denicos Allen blocked a Purdue punt late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning touchdown as the Spartans rallied from a 28-13 deficit. And Penn State's Andrew Dailey and James Van Fleet teamed up for a punt block and a touchdown return that broke a 24-24 tie against Indiana at FedEx Field.

Specialist spotlight: The two punt blocks by Michigan State and Penn State loomed large in both teams' victories. Michigan State punter Aaron Bates had another big game, averaging 43.4 yards per punt and placing three inside the Purdue 20-yard line. After not attempting a punt the week before against Indiana, Wisconsin's Brad Nortman made the most out of his only chance against Michigan, pinning the Wolverines at their 1-yard line. Ohio State's Devin Barclay kicked a clutch field goal against Iowa for the second straight year, this time a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter. Both punters looked comfortable at Wrigley, as Illinois' Anthony Santella averaged 53.5 yards per punt and Northwestern's Brandon Williams had a 45.2-yard average. Northwestern's Venric Mark had a 58-yard punt return that set up a Wildcats touchdown against Illinois.

Best sign: The Big Ten's last-minute decision to primarily use one end zone at Wrigley Field became the top story in college football heading into Saturday. But just in case players from Northwestern and Illinois didn't hear about the rule changes, a fan sitting behind the dreaded East end zone provided a reminder. He held up a sign that read: "Wrong Way!" Nice.

Game balls (given to players on winning or losing teams who didn't receive helmet stickers)

  • Penn State QB Matt McGloin: The sophomore racked up a career-high 315 pass yards and two touchdowns against Indiana, completing 22 of 31 attempts in the win. His 315 pass yards tie for the 10th most in team history.
  • Illinois LB Martez Wilson: The Chicago native sparkled in his hometown Saturday, recording three tackles for loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble in the win against Northwestern.
  • Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien: He completed his first 13 pass attempts against Michigan and showed good toughness, absorbing several hits before releasing the ball. Tolzien finished the game 14-for-15 for 201 yards and an interception.
  • [+] EnlargePenn State quarterback Matt McGloin
    AP Photo/Nick WassPenn State quarterback Matt McGloin had a career day in a win over Indiana.
    Michigan State WR Mark Dell: Dell made Senior Day a memorable one by recording eight receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Purdue. The senior receiver hauled in scoring passes of 24 yards and nine yards to match a career high for touchdowns.
  • Michigan QB Denard Robinson: He started slowly against Wisconsin but came on strong in the second half. Robinson racked up 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, breaking the FBS single-season record for quarterback rushing. He also had 239 pass yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
  • Purdue CB Ricardo Allen: Any postseason awards list of top freshmen should include Allen, who recorded his second pick-six in as many weeks against Michigan State. He tied Mike Rose's single-season record for interceptions returned for touchdowns. Allen now leads Purdue with three interceptions this season.
  • Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins: The junior played through pain and overcame an early miscue to record four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) and 276 pass yards. Cousins completed passes to 10 different receivers in the come-from-behind win against Purdue.
  • Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor: It's not how you start in football, and Pryor finished extremely strong against Iowa. He led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, racked up 78 rush yards against a stout Iowa defense and passed for 195 yards.
  • Indiana WR Tandon Doss: The dynamic junior led Indiana in both receiving yards (90) and rushing yards (61) against Penn State. Doss had seven receptions and five rushes on the day. He also shined as a return man and finished the game with 293 all-purpose yards, tied for the seventh-best effort in team history.

Now let's look ahead to rivalry week.

Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1): If the Buckeyes win, they will tie a Big Ten record with their sixth consecutive league title (won or shared). They also aim for their seventh consecutive win against their archrival. Michigan can spoil it all for Ohio State and take the heat off of third-year coach Rich Rodriguez, but a Wolverines win would qualify as a major upset. Pryor takes aim at a Wolverines defense that ranks 99th nationally in points allowed (33.6 ppg).

No. 10 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) at Penn State (7-4, 4-3): A special season for the Spartans comes down to this, the biggest game in recent team history. Michigan State can record a team record for wins if it beats Penn State, and a victory ensures the Spartans of at least a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990. McGloin and the Nittany Lions look to spoil the party and end the regular season with wins in five of their final six games.

Indiana (4-7, 0-7) at Purdue (4-7, 2-5): For the second straight year, the Bucket game will be played with just pride and bragging rights on the line. Neither Indiana nor Purdue will be going bowling this season, but both teams want to end 2010 on a good note. It could be a pivotal game for Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch, who has recorded just two Big Ten wins since his Hoosiers beat Purdue in 2007 to clinch a bowl berth.

No. 24 Iowa (7-4, 4-3) at Minnesota (2-9, 1-6): Iowa has shut out Minnesota in each of the last two seasons, and the Hawkeyes will come in angry after dropping back-to-back games. The Golden Gophers, meanwhile, come off of an open week after an uplifting win against Illinois and look for their first home victory of the season. It'll be the last game for quarterback Adam Weber, the other Minnesota seniors and probably most of the coaching staff. Iowa has won eight of the teams' last nine meetings.

Northwestern (7-4, 3-4) at Wisconsin (10-1, 6-1): The Badgers are playing for a share of their first Big Ten title since 1999 and most likely their first Rose Bowl appearance since that year. Barring an Ohio State loss, a Badgers win likely punches their ticket to Pasadena. Wisconsin's offense has been sensational as of late, and starting running back John Clay should be back in the fold. It likely spells bad news for Northwestern, which had no answer for Illinois' rushing attack at Wrigley.

Bye: Illinois (6-5, 4-4)

Big Ten lunch links

November, 19, 2010
11/19/10
12:00
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As a writer once said ...
“I don't know how other colleges are, but when you walk around here, you’ve got people ... you've got guys walking around in dresses and just these hippies," Stanzi said. "They're doing nothing. There's the Ped Mall area down there, right in the middle. Those people are going nowhere. Those people are the people who don't like America."
MADISON, Wis. -- Down 21-3 against a power-run, clock-killing team like Wisconsin, Ohio State's best chance for a comeback rested with takeaways.

Good thing, too, because Ohio State has one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country. The Buckeyes showed it as linebacker Andrew Sweat picked off a Scott Tolzien pass and returned the ball inside Wisconsin territory. A terrible late hit call on Wisconsin -- Sweat merely tripped over his teammates near the Ohio State sideline -- had Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes sitting pretty, first-and-10 at the Wisconsin 23.

And once again, Ohio State couldn't capitalize. It needed a touchdown and instead came away with nothing after a Devin Barclay missed field goal. Wisconsin continues to dominate the line of scrimmage, as J.J. Watt had a huge sack of Pryor on third-and-9.

Wisconsin still leads 21-3 with 2:53 left in the half. And if Tolzien can limit his mistakes, the Badgers will be in excellent shape to win this game.

Week 3: Did you know?

September, 17, 2010
9/17/10
9:00
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A few nuggets to make you smarter (hopefully) as you head out to watch Big Ten teams in action Saturday. A tip of the cap to ESPN's Stats & Information crew for most of these.
  • Quarterback Ricky Stanzi led Iowa to four wins last season after the Hawkeyes trailed in the fourth quarter. A big reason for Iowa's fourth-quarter success was because Stanzi was significantly more accurate and efficient with his downfield passing when the game was on the line. In the first three quarters last season, Stanzi completed just 37.5 percent of his passes on attempts of 15 yards or longer, with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. In the fourth quarter last season, Stanzi completed 58.8 percent of pass attempts 15 yards or longer with two touchdowns and no picks.
  • Ohio State leads the nation in turnover margin, forcing 7 while not turning the ball over yet this year. Ohio State is one of 6 teams without a turnover this season, joined by Indiana, N.C. State, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon State.
  • Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson leads the nation in most 10-yard rushes with 16. How impressive is that? Only one other player has more than 10 (Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter with 12). Even with an expected drop-off, Robinson has a chance to become the first 2,000-yard passer and 2,000-yard rusher in major college history. The FBS record for rushing yards by a 2,000-yard passer is 1,427 by UAB's Joe Webb last season.
  • Since 1990, Pac-10 teams are 25-6-1 at home against Big Ten teams. Both teams were ranked in seven of those 32 games, and the Pac-10 team won all seven. Iowa hasn’t won a regular season game in the mountain/pacific/Hawaiian time zones since 1987. Since 2004, the Pac-10 is 15-8 overall against the Big Ten (including bowls). Three of those Pac-10 losses, however, have been by Arizona.
  • Wisconsin has won 26 straight nonconference regular season games. That streak is the third-longest active streak, behind LSU and USC. The last Wisconsin nonconference loss before bowl season came in 2003 to UNLV. The Badgers have won eight of their last nine against Pac-10 teams (at the time of the game), with the only loss coming in 2001 vs Oregon. But Arizona State has won four straight against Big Ten teams, starting with its win vs. Purdue in the 2004 Sun Bowl.
  • Minnesota has come from behind in each of its last seven wins. The last time it won a game in which it didn't trail was October 2008 in a 17-6 win against Purdue.
  • Penn State is looking for its 500th victory since Joe Paterno joined the coaching staff in 1950.
  • In the latest NCAA individual statistical rankings, Big Ten players lead the nation in four categories and appear among the top 10 in multiple areas, including five of the top 10 rushers in the country. Michigan's Denard Robinson ranks first nationally with 227.5 rushing yards and 442.5 yards of total offense per game and is tied for fourth with 227.5 all-purpose yards per outing. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa tops the country with a pass efficiency rating of 212.1, while Ohio State's Devin Barclay is tied for the national lead with three field goals per game. The Big Ten boasts five of the top 10 rushers in the country.
  • The Big Ten boasts five teams ranked among the Top 25 for the first time since Oct. 5, 2008. The Big Ten and SEC are the only conferences to feature at least five Top 25 teams in both polls, while the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are the only conferences to boast multiple teams among the top 10 in both rankings.

Big Ten Week 2 rewind/Week 3 preview

September, 13, 2010
9/13/10
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Let's look back at Week 2 before looking ahead to Saturday's completely full slate (11 games) of Big Ten action.

[+] EnlargeRicky Stanzi
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallRicky Stanzi and the Hawkeyes had their way with Iowa State on Saturday.
Team of the week: Iowa. Ohio State and Michigan drew more national attention, as usual, but Iowa delivered the most impressive performance of the day. The Hawkeyes annihilated in-state rival Iowa State, storming out to a 35-0 lead behind Adam Robinson and Ricky Stanzi. Iowa State supposedly had improved since last year's meeting, but the Hawkeyes once again victimized quarterback Austen Arnaud for three interceptions. After walking the tightrope every week in 2009, Iowa isn't letting inferior teams hang around. It'll be interesting to see how the Hawkeyes perform Saturday at Arizona.

Best game: Michigan at Notre Dame. For the second consecutive season, the Wolverines and Irish provided plenty of drama. And once again, a young quarterback became the hero for the Maize and Blue. Denard Robinson's brilliance helped Michigan overcome a late defensive breakdown and rally for a 28-24 victory in South Bend. The game featured plenty of plot twists, as Notre Dame jumped ahead early, lost quarterback Dayne Crist to injury, got him back and took the lead before falling. Just great theater in one of college football's great cathedrals.

Biggest play: Going with three of them this week. Robinson set a Notre Dame Stadium record with his 87-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, a beautiful display of pure speed. And who doesn't like to see a defensive lineman rumble? That's exactly what Ohio State's Cameron Heyward did on an 80-yard interception return against Miami early in the third quarter with the game still very much in doubt. Purdue running back Al-Terek McBurse also deserves props for keeping his balance while rolling over a Western Illinois defender and then scooting into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown run.

Specialist spotlight: Michigan State entered the season with major questions at the kicker spot after losing standout Brett Swenson. Dan Conroy eased the concern Saturday against Florida Atlantic, converting field goal attempts of 50, 44 and 41 yards. Conroy is 4-for-4 on field goals for the season. Ohio State kicker Devin Barclay tied a team record with five field goals before missing his sixth attempt. "It was the first time I've ever been in a game where the kicker cramped up," Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said afterward.

Game balls (given to players from winning teams not selected for helmet stickers):

  • Northwestern QB Dan Persa: Robinson and Terrelle Pryor get all the pub, but Persa is leading the nation in pass efficiency with an amazing rating of 212.06. He has completed 86.4 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no picks. It's still early, but Persa is answering NU's biggest question mark entering the fall.
  • Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan: Kerrigan is continuing his dominant play from 2009 and recorded four tackles for loss with a sack and a forced fumble against Western Illinois. He leads the league in both tackles for loss (6.5) and forced fumbles (2), and ranks fifth in tackles (19).
  • Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure: Another player who has carried over his success from last fall, Leshoure racked up 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries against Southern Illinois. Imagine what he'll do if he ever gets a full carries load.
  • Michigan State WR/KR/PR Keshawn Martin: Martin showed against Florida Atlantic why he can be so dangerous for the Spartans this year. He had a 42-yard reception, a 46-yard kickoff return and a 47-yard punt return. He finished with a game-high 204 all-purpose yards.
  • Michigan WR Roy Roundtree: Labeled as doubtful last Monday after taking a huge shot against UConn, Roundtree not only played against Notre Dame but led Michigan with eight receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown. Plus, he took another big hit in the game. Gutsy performance.
  • Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Watt is performing like an All-Big Ten player so far this season, and he came up big against San Jose State with 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a blocked field goal attempt.
  • Purdue RB Dan Dierking: Dierking eased some concerns about the Boilers' run game with 14 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns against Western Illinois. He broke career bests for rushes, rushing yardage and touchdowns for the second straight game.
How bizarre: The entire Miami-Ohio State game fits into this category. Ohio State allowed a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history. Miami's Jacory Harris threw four interceptions and still had a chance in the second half. Pryor completed just 12 of 27 passes but still put up great yardage totals for both passing (233) and rushing (113). Just a very weird game at The Shoe, but the Buckeyes will take the W.

Now, let's take a quick look at the Week 2 slate ...

Massachusetts (2-0) at Michigan (2-0): What will Robinson do next? Tune in for the first half, as he might not be around for much of this one. The real subplot should be how Michigan uses backup quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Tate Forcier.

Ohio (1-1) at Ohio State (2-0): Frank Solich's Bobcats gave the Buckeyes a real scare two years ago, but Ohio is coming off of a home loss to Toledo. Can't see Ohio State letting Ohio hang around very long.

Kent State (1-1) at Penn State (1-1): The Lions should finally be able to get Evan Royster and the run game going, right? One problem: Kent State leads the nation in rush defense, allowing just 11 yards per game.

Northern Illinois (1-1) at Illinois (1-1): The Illini looked great against Southern Illinois and try to continue maintain their unbeaten record (12-0) against public schools from the state. NIU coach Jerry Kill could miss the game after being hospitalized Sunday.

Ball State (1-1) at Purdue (1-1): Life without star wide receiver Keith Smith begins for the Boilers, who still are looking for more consistency on both sides of the ball. Can Dierking nail down Purdue's top running back spot?

USC (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1): These are the big-ticket games Tim Brewster wants to play at Minnesota, but the heat is rising on the fourth-year coach after an embarrassing loss to South Dakota. USC's Matt Barkley takes aim at a Gophers' secondary that made South Dakota's Dante Warren look like superman.

Arizona State (2-0) at Wisconsin (2-0): Steven Threet sparked Wisconsin's downward spiral in 2008 after leading Michigan to a historic come-from-behind win at the Big House. Now Threet leads the Sun Devils into Madison looking for an upset.

Indiana (1-0) at Western Kentucky (0-2): Remember the Hoosiers? It feels like months since they last played. All-Big Ten wideout Tandon Doss is expected to make his season debut as Indiana hits the road for the first time.

Northwestern (2-0) at Rice (1-1): The Michigan-Big Ten reunion continues as former Wolverines running back Sam McGuffie faces Northwestern. This could be a tricky game for the Wildcats, but if Persa continues to perform like he has, they should be fine.

Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0): We should learn a lot more about the Spartans in this prime-time affair, as Notre Dame should test a secondary that struggled mightily in 2009. Linebacker Greg Jones and the Michigan State seniors try to go 3-1 against the Irish.

Iowa (2-0) at Arizona (2-0): Stay up late for this one, people. Both teams have looked dominant so far, and Iowa will have to adjust to the elements in the desert. Nick Foles and the Arizona offense will test Adrian Clayborn & Co., but Arizona also must contend with an Iowa offense that looks very strong so far.
Best call:

How bizarre: The entire Miami-Ohio State game fits into this category. Ohio State allowed a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history. Miami's Jacory Harris threw four interceptions and still had a chance in the second half. Terrelle Pryor completed just 12 of 27 passes but still put up great yardage totals for both passing (233) and rushing (113). Just a very weird game at The Shoe, but the Buckeyes will take the W.

Big Ten Players of the Week

September, 13, 2010
9/13/10
11:47
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The league offense has made its selections, and here they are ...

OFFENSE: Michigan QB Denard Robinson

One week after setting school records for total offense and rushing yards by a quarterback, Robinson reset those marks with 502 yards of total offense and 258 yards on the ground, including the game-winning touchdown run with 27 seconds left to lead Michigan to a road victory at Notre Dame. The sophomore quarterback accounted for 502 of the Wolverines’ 532 yards in the game. His 258 rushing yards rank as the fifth-best single-game effort in school history and shattered the Big Ten record of 217 rushing yards by a signal-caller, set by Northwestern’s Mike Kafka in 2008. Robinson recorded 28 rushes for 258 yards (9.2 avg.) with two touchdowns and also completed 24 of 40 passes (60.0 pct.) for 244 yards and another score. He became the ninth quarterback in NCAA history and second in Big Ten annals to rush and pass for 200 yards in a game, joining Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El, who accomplished the feat in 2000. After Notre Dame took a 24-21 lead with 3:41 left in the game, Robinson led a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped by his two-yard scoring run for the win. Robinson is the first Big Ten player to earn back-to-back offensive player of the week laurels since Michigan State running back Javon Ringer was honored three straight weeks on Sept. 8, 15 and 22 of the 2008 season.

DEFENSE: Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa

Chekwa picked off a pair of passes and recorded two pass breakups, while adding six tackles and a tackle for loss to help hold the offense of nationally ranked Miami to only 10 points. With the Hurricanes leading 7-3 in the second quarter, Chekwa broke up a pass in the end zone to force a field goal. The senior cornerback then recorded both of his interceptions in the last seven minutes of the half. With OSU leading 13-10, Chekwa snagged his first interception to give the hosts the ball at the 19-yard line, which led to a touchdown and a 20-10 lead. With less than a minute left, he picked off his second pass to set up a field goal to give Ohio State a 26-17 halftime advantage.

CO-SPECIAL TEAMS: Michigan State K Dan Conroy and Ohio State K Devin Barclay

Conroy tallied a career-high 12 points in Michigan State’s 30-17 victory over Florida Atlantic and connected on all three of his field goal attempts, each over 40 yards. The sophomore kicker opened the scoring with a 44-yarder in the first quarter before adding a 41-yarder in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 20-7 lead at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Conroy connected on a career-long 50-yarder to cap the scoring for MSU.

Barclay matched a school record with five field goals and accounted for 18 points in Ohio State’s 36-24 victory over nationally ranked Miami (Fla.). The senior kicker’s five field goals are tied for the second-most in Big Ten history. Barclay connected on field goals of 24, 41, 21 and 24 yards in the first half to boost the hosts to a 26-17 halftime advantage. He added a 24-yarder in the third quarter to provide OSU’s final points of the game.

FRESHMAN: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase


In his second career start, Scheelhaase completed 14 of 18 passes (77.8 pct.) for 229 yards and two touchdowns to lead Illinois to a victory in the home opener against Southern Illinois. The freshman signal-caller posted a pass efficiency rating of 221.31, which ranks as the sixth-best single-game rating in school history. On the Illini’s second possession, Scheelhaase hit wideout A.J. Jenkins on a 54-yard scoring strike to give the hosts a 7-0 lead. He added a 33-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's defense had done a masterful job of forcing turnovers, but the Buckeyes really needed a simple stop, and they got one.

Miami's offense has looked very good since halftime, and the Hurricanes had a glimmer of hope following Devin Barclay's missed field goal. But after allowing the Canes to cross midfield, the Buckeyes forced a turnover on downs and regained control.

Ohio State always has had a bend-but-don't-break defense, and today's performance is truly emblematic of how it plays. Miami has made plays here and there, but the Buckeyes keep coming up big in their own end of the field.

Terrelle Pryor just rushed for a big first down, and Ohio State is in command, up 36-24 with about five minutes left.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Everything is clicking right now for Ohio State, even the special teams.

On a day when the Buckeyes allowed a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history, they're finally cleaning things up in the all-important third phase. A blocked field-goal attempt by Devon Torrence negated a Miami drive, and Ohio State tacked on another Devin Barclay field goal.

Barclay has been a bright spot on special teams so far this year after entering camp with questions about his accuracy. He's 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts Saturday, tying a team record.

More good news for the Buckeyes, as star D-lineman Cameron Heyward is back on the field after a right leg problem.

Miami actually has looked good on offense this half, but the Canes have nothing to show for it. When Jacory Harris isn't throwing interceptions, his receivers are letting him down or his linemen are committing penalties. Just too many mistakes to beat the nation's No. 2 team on the road.

Ohio State leads 36-17 late in the third quarter.
The position rankings finish with the special-teams units. For this list, I examine kickers, punters, return men and coverage units and look at each team's overall picture in the all-important third phase. The Big Ten loses several elite specialists, including punter Zoltan Mesko and kicker Brett Swenson. It's a little odd not to see Ohio State near the top, but if there's a hole on Jim Tressel's team this year, it might be on special teams.

Here are my top five:

[+] EnlargeDerrell Johnson-Koulianos
Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMIDerrell Johnson-Koulianos ranked second in the Big Ten in kick return average (31.5 ypr) in 2009.
1. Iowa: The Hawkeyes boast one of the league's top punters in Ryan Donahue, who has averaged more than 40 yards per punt in each of his first three seasons. Iowa also brings back Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who ranked second in the Big Ten in kick return average (31.5 ypr) in 2009. There's competition at kicker (big surprise), but Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker both boast experience. Colin Sandeman quietly ranked second in the league in punt return average last year.

2. Michigan State: Swenson is undoubtedly a major loss, but Michigan State should improve in the other phases of special teams. Punter Aaron Bates was extremely solid in 2009, averaging 41.6 yards despite a league-high 63 attempts. Look out for Keshawn Martin, who averaged 28.9 yards on kick returns last fall. Martin could be the league's top return man by season's end. The Spartans need to upgrade their kickoff coverage unit.

3. Ohio State: Despite question marks at both specialist spots, Ohio State's history as an elite special-teams squad under Tressel can't be overlooked. Hopes are high for Ben Buchanan at punter, and Devin Barclay has a very big kick on his résumé against Iowa last year. The Buckeyes must replace return man Ray Small, but there's enough talent there. The coverage teams are always good in Columbus.

4. Minnesota: The Gophers' strengths are their return teams, led by Troy Stoudermire and Bryant Allen. Minnesota led the Big Ten in punt return average, although it had only nine runbacks all year, and finished fifth in kick return average. Eric Ellestad was perfect on PATs and had a decent year on field goals. The Gophers need Dan Orseske to step in at punter for Blake Haudan.

5. Wisconsin: There are some concerns about the Badgers' special-teams units, but everyone is back and should be better. Punter Brad Nortman averaged 42 yards per punt last year, and while kicker Philip Welch took a mini step back, he still booted 17 field goals. David Gilreath is one of the league's most experienced return men, and linebacker Chris Borland proved to be a difference-maker on special teams last year.

More rankings ...

Opening camp: Ohio State

August, 6, 2010
8/06/10
5:00
PM ET
Schedule: Ohio State's first preseason practice takes place today in Columbus.

What's new: Not that much. Jim Tressel's staff remains intact, and Ohio State returns 16 starters, including 10 on offense. The only spot that sees a decent amount of turnover is safety, as the Buckeyes lose both Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell. They also will have a new look along the defensive line, although Cameron Heyward is a familiar face, one opposing offensive linemen won't be happy to see.

Sidelined: Ohio State is healthy entering camp, although the Buckeyes are down a running back as Jermil Martin will transfer. The Scarlet and Gray will have incoming freshman running back Rod Smith on the field after Smith met his academic requirements.

Key battle: Let's start at kicker, a position that always means a lot to a Tressel-coached team. Aaron Pettrey departs, and Devin Barclay needs to rebound after struggling at times this spring. Punter Ben Buchanan and freshman Drew Basil are possibilities if Barclay can't hold down the top job. The other key battle takes place at left tackle, as junior Mike Adams tries to lock up a starting spot ahead of Andrew Miller and others.

New on the scene: Ohio State isn't deep at wide receiver and could find room for James Louis and Corey Brown. Defensive back Christian Bryant will have a chance in the secondary, and linebacker David Durham also might make an early impact. Carlos Hyde could work his way into a crowded mix at running back after enrolling a year later than expected. Basil will be a factor on special teams.

Back in the fold: Tyler Moeller is cleared for full contact after suffering a head injury last summer as an assault victim. Moeller played linebacker early in his career, but was on track for a possible starting job at safety in the spring of 2009. As Ohio State looks to replace Coleman, Moeller might be the answer.

Breaking out: Everyone is raving about sophomore defensive lineman John Simon, a weight-room superstar who saw some action last season. There also was some buzz this spring about linebacker Etienne Sabino, who should join Ross Homan and Brian Rolle in the starting lineup. Ohio State needs a No. 3 wide receiver, and watch out for redshirt freshman Chris Fields.

Quotable: "We're a very capable team. I think we should be a team that's being targeted. I know we'll be a team that's being targeted. And we'll always get everyone's best shot. And with that in mind, we better make sure our best shot's ready each Saturday. But it's just part of the deal." -- head coach Jim Tressel

Fresh Faces: Ohio State

July, 19, 2010
7/19/10
3:00
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My look at three newcomers to watch for each Big Ten team in 2010 continues with Ohio State.

OFFENSE: Chris Fields, WR, Fr., 6-0, 185

I considered going with one of Ohio State's young running backs (Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde), but the coaches really like what they see from Fields, who plays a position of need for Ohio State. The Buckeyes boast two solid options at receiver in DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher, but they need a No. 3 target after Duron Carter left school. Taurian Washington is a veteran option, but Fields should get ample playing time this fall. Fields added some weight during the offseason and boasts excellent speed.

DEFENSE: Melvin Fellows, DE, Fr., 6-5, 249

Cameron Heyward doesn't have to worry about his job security, but Fellows is the latest in a line of dynamic young Buckeyes defensive linemen. He worked his way into the two-deep with an impressive performance this spring and forms a very exciting young nucleus with John Simon, Nathan Williams, Solomon Thomas and others. Fellows isn't an every-down player yet, but he gives Ohio State the ability to be flexible with a guy like Heyward.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Ben Buchanan, P/K, So., 6-0, 195

Special teams are a bit of a concern entering the season, but Buchanan could put a lot of folks at ease with his play. He takes over the starting punter spot after averaging 42.8 yards on four attempts in 2009. Ohio State finished 41st nationally in net punting last fall, a stat Jim Tressel would like to see improve. Buchanan also likely will handle long field goal attempts for Ohio State and might move into a featured role at kicker if Devin Barclay or Drew Basil doesn't nail down the job.
By most measures, Joe Bauserman qualifies as a veteran.

You can start with his birth certificate. It reads Oct. 4, 1985. That means he'll turn 25 years old two days after Ohio State visits Illinois this season.

[+] EnlargeBauserman
D. Jay Talbott/Icon SMIOhio State quarterback Joe Bauserman doesn't complain about being Terrelle Pryor's back-up.
Bauserman also is no stranger to high-level athletic competition. Aside from Ohio State teammate Devin Barclay, a 27-year-old former Major League Soccer player, no Buckeye has had a more extensive athletic career.

Bauserman was part of Ohio State's 2004 recruiting class but delayed his arrival to play minor league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. A fourth-round draft pick by the Pirates, Bauserman pitched three years in the minors, compiling a 14-12 record with a 3.42 ERA. He finally joined the Ohio State football program as a walk-on in 2007.

About the only place where Bauserman can't be called an old hand is the football game field. He has only 25 pass attempts in two seasons as Terrelle Pryor's backup, racking up 146 pass yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

"It's hard when you're the backup," quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said.

Pryor is as entrenched as any quarterback in the country, having started 22 of Ohio State's last 23 games. Other signal callers like Antonio Henton and Rob Schoenhoft left Columbus after Pryor signed, sensing the inevitable, but Bauserman has stuck around.

"Joe’s been in a tough position ever since Terrelle got here," Siciliano said. "From a maturity standpoint, I don't think you can be any better than he has. He hasn’t whined, he hasn’t complained, he’s been a total team guy.

"He loves to compete, and that’s why Joe has a chance."

Bauserman's right arm gives him that chance. He's not the runner that Pryor and fellow reserve Kenny Guiton are, but the former pitcher can sling the football.

Siciliano stopped short of proclaiming Bauserman has the strongest arm on the team, saying, "If I say yes, Terrelle might get offended, so I’ll leave that one." But the coach added, "Joe’s ball gets up to speed as fast as it can and comes out really easily. He can chuck the thing with the best of 'em."

The 6-1, 233-pound Bauserman spent the spring working on his decision-making and his footwork, trying to get his drops in sync with the receivers' routes. Like the other quarterbacks, Bauserman struggled in the team's jersey scrimmage, completing 4 of 13 passes with an interception, though he did connect on passes of 32 and 25 yards.

Bauserman's woes continued in the spring game, as he completed 6 of 15 passes with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Guiton, who Siciliano praised for being quick to absorb information and instructions, turned heads by tossing two touchdown passes.

Pryor is Ohio State's clear starter, but Bauserman is being challenged for the No. 2 job.

“I would say it’s Joe 2 and Kenny 3 with Kenny pushing the gap a little bit," Siciliano said.

Many think an injury to Pryor would torpedo Ohio State's national title hopes, but Siciliano has faith in the men behind him.

"I don’t think I’d bat an eye because the other 10 guys around [the new quarterback] in the huddle would step up their game," Siciliano said. "Don’t get me wrong, there’d be some level of difficulty with Terrelle leaving the game. Our mind-set’s got to change a little bit, but I’ve got the utmost confidence that those guys would do a great job."

Ohio State spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
7:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 11-2

2009 conference record: 7-1 (1st)

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Brandon Saine, RB Dan Herron, WR DeVier Posey, LG Justin Boren, C Michael Brewster, DL Cameron Heyward, LB Ross Homan, LB Brian Rolle, DE John Simon

Key losses

OL Jim Cordle, DE Thaddeus Gibson, DT Doug Worthington, LB Austin Spitler, S Kurt Coleman, S Anderson Russell, PK Aaron Pettrey, P Jon Thoma

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Pryor* (779 yards)

Passing: Pryor* (2,094 yards)

Receiving: Posey* (828 yards)

Tackles: Ross Homan* (108)

Sacks: Cameron Heyward* (6.5)

Interceptions: Ross Homan* and Kurt Coleman (5)

Spring answers

1. Pryor ready for expanded offense: Ohio State fans have wanted the offense to open up, and they finally should get their wish this fall. Pryor built on his Rose Bowl performance with a solid spring, displaying improved footwork and rebounding nicely from some struggles in the jersey scrimmage to complete 8 of 12 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

2. Sabino steps up: Ohio State returns two All-Big Ten linebackers in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, but it needed a third player to step up and Etienne Sabino answered the call this spring. He spent the entire session with the first-team defense and finished things off with a game-high seven tackles and a forced fumble in the spring game.

3. Guiton provides insurance at QB: Pryor played through pain toward the end of last season and has proven to be durable at quarterback, but every team needs a backup plan and Ohio State might have found one with Kenny Guiton. He wasn't the Buckeyes' first choice for the 2009 recruiting class, but Guiton showed some promise in the spring game by tossing two touchdowns. Guiton certainly will push Joe Bauserman for the backup quarterback spot.

Fall questions

1. The kicking game: It seems sacrilegious to question the specialists on a Jim Tressel-coached team, but Ohio State has some legitimate concerns here. Devin Barclay couldn't separate from freshman Drew Basil, and the place-kicker competition will continue in fall camp. Ben Buchanan should lock up the starting punter spot, but he struggled a bit in the spring game.

2. Left tackle: Ohio State opened up the competition this spring and seemed to narrow it down to Mike Adams and Andrew Miller, with Adams as the frontrunner entering the summer. The competition will continue for some time, but the hope is the gifted Adams can finally step up and lock down a starting spot. Ohio State returns its other four starters up front and likely would rather have J.B. Shugarts stay at right tackle.

3. No. 3 pass-catching option: Some folks don't think this is a big deal in Tressel's offense, but if Ohio State really wants to open things up, Pryor needs a third target after Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher. Wideout Taurian Washington made a good case in the spring game with 83 receiving yards and a touchdown, and he'll compete with Chris Fields and most likely Duron Carter this summer. Tight end Jake Stoneburner also should be a much bigger part of the passing attack this season.

4. Running back rotation: I couldn't resist and had to toss in a fourth question for the fall. Brandon Saine and Boom Herron are two proven options, but Ohio State has plenty of depth and only one football to go around. Can Jaamal Berry, Jordan Hall or Carlos Hyde challenge the top two?
The spring game recaps series marches on with Ohio State, which held its spring game Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes didn't have many glaring issues this spring, but Terrelle Pryor and the offense responded nicely Saturday after a poor performance the week before in the jersey scrimmage. Pryor played only one quarter but completed 8 of 12 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, finding wideout Dane Sanzenbacher four times for 61 yards.

The game's most significant development came with the reserve quarterbacks, as Kenny Guiton made a strong case to back up Pryor, rather than Joe Bauserman. Guiton, an eleventh-hour signing in 2009, completed 11 of 21 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, both to Taurian Washington, including the game-winner with 55 seconds left to give the Gray team a 17-14 victory. Guiton also had a potential touchdown pass dropped by DeVier Posey minutes into the game.

Bauserman, meanwhile, had his struggles Saturday, completing just 6 of 15 passes for 75 yards and two interceptions, including one in the end zone. He had a 43-yard completion to James Jackson and led the Scarlet team with 35 rush yards, but he'll be in a battle with Guiton in preseason camp.

The game didn't provide too many answers in the running back race, as top backs Dan Herron and Brandon Saine both had only four carries apiece. Herron racked up 32 yards, giving him a solid yards-per-carry average (8 ypc), while Saine broke off a 14-yard gain. Redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry missed the game with an ankle injury, so Carlos Hyde (6 carries, 26 yards), Jordan Hall (4 carries, 17 yards) and Bo DeLande (5 carries, 28 yards, TD) got most of the work.

Other Buckeyes nuggets:
  • Ohio State needs to identify a No. 3 wideout, and Washington strengthened his case Saturday with three receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Duron Carter should be back with the team at some point, but Washington enters the summer as the man to beat. Chris Fields and Jackson also are in the mix there.
  • Linebacker Etienne Sabino ended spring ball on a good note with a game-high seven tackles and a forced fumble. Sabino likely locked up a starting job this spring alongside All-Big Ten candidates Ross Homan and Brian Rolle. Dorian Bell also should be in the mix at linebacker after recording five tackles, including one for loss, in the spring game.
  • Like the rest of the offense, the line bounced back nicely from the jersey scrimmage and protected the quarterbacks. The left tackle spot isn't settled, but junior Mike Adams finally appears to be taking charge of a spot that, given his talent, should already be his.
  • I really think Ohio State needs to get its tight ends and fullbacks more involved in the passing attack this fall, and Saturday seemed to be a good step in that direction. Tight end Jake Stoneburner, who could be a huge factor for the Buckeyes, had three catches for 43 yards, while fullback Zach Boren led the Gray team with four receptions for 44 yards.
  • The kicking game remains a question mark entering the summer. Punter Ben Buchanan struggled Saturday (35.7-yard average), and there was only one made field goal, a 47-yarder by freshman Drew Basil. It'll be interesting to monitor the kicker competition between Basil and Devin Barclay in preseason camp.

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