Big Ten: Devin Garnder

Previewing Michigan-Minnesota

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
10:00
AM ET
For the first time this season, there's only one Big Ten game on tap during the noon ET window. Michigan and Minnesota will have the stage to themselves as they compete for the Little Brown Jug at TCF Bank Stadium.

Let's take a quick look:

Michigan (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (5-3, 1-3), Big Ten Network: The Jug game got a lot more interesting after Week 9, as a Denard Robinson-less Michigan squad lost in Lincoln, while freshman quarterback Philip Nelson dazzled in his home debut as Minnesota thumped Purdue. Robinson, who has a nerve issue in his throwing elbow, is expected to play and start, but Michigan fans will be holding their breath as the injury can be aggravated fairly easily. The Wolverines seem better prepared should Robinson go down as wide receiver Devin Gardner, a former backup QB, took more snaps at quarterback this week in practice. Minnesota has its own injury issues as several key players, including top wide receiver A.J. Barker and safety Derrick Wells, are questionable for the game. Don't expect a whole lot of passing in this one as Michigan is tied with Alabama for the national lead in pass defense (145.9 ypg allowed), while Minnesota is seventh (159.9 ypg). If Nebraska beats Michigan State, Michigan needs a win to remain in the Legends division race, while the Gophers try to regain the Jug for the first time since 2005.

Big Ten stock report: Week 5

September, 29, 2010
9/29/10
9:00
AM ET
Who's rising? Who's falling? How are those awards races shaping up?

No worries, friends. I've got you covered.

STOCK UP

Iowa WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: Go ahead and list him as a co-starter on your depth chart, Kirk Ferentz. He's still your best receiver. Again. DJK has recorded 11 receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. He's getting closer and closer to passing Tim Dwight to become Iowa's all-time leading receiver.

Indiana TEs Ted Bolser and Max Dedmond: The Hoosiers' wide receivers get most of the hype, and deservedly so, but both Bolser and Dedmond provide more options for quarterback Ben Chappell. The two tight ends combined for three touchdown catches and 43 receiving yards in a win against Akron. Bolser ranks among the Big Ten leaders with four touchdown receptions and boasts nine catches for 128 yards on the season.

Northwestern DTs Jack DiNardo and Corbin Bryant: These two are holding it down on the interior line for the Wildcats. DiNardo blocked a field-goal attempt and a PAT attempt against Central Michigan, while Bryant had a fumble recovery. The two tackles have combined for 7.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and two blocked kicks this season.

Don Treadwell: The Michigan State offensive coordinator certainly deserves credit for steering the Spartans' ship through a tough time without head coach Mark Dantonio. But the biggest reason he appears here is the better offensive balance Michigan State has shown the last two weeks. The Spartans' rushing attack is legit, but quarterback Kirk Cousins is making more big plays through the air. A two-pronged attack really will help MSU heading into Big Ten play.

Michigan's supporting cast: It was important for Michigan's offense to produce without superstar quarterback Denard Robinson, even against a shaky defense like Bowling Green's. Reserve quarterbacks Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner both played well, particularly Forcier, and Michigan received boosts from receiver Roy Roundtree and running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Smith and Michael Cox.

STOCK DOWN

Minnesota's lines: You win and lose games at the line of scrimmage, and the Gophers need to get better on both sides of the ball. Minnesota's inability to covert two fourth-and-1 situations in the second half of the Northern Illinois loss was simply inexcusable. A veteran Big Ten offensive line that prides itself on the run game should get a yard against a MAC defense, period. The new-look defensive line didn't fare well, either, as NIU's Chad Spann ran wild (223 yards).

Ohio State's veteran RBs: I've gotten a bit annoyed by the incessant calls for Jaamal Berry from Ohio State fans, but maybe they have a point. Senior running back Brandon Saine had only 11 yards on three carries against Eastern Michigan, while junior Dan Herron had an OK day (12 carries, 55 rush yards, TD). Berry, meanwhile, had a 67-yard touchdown run, while Jordan Hall averaged 6.5 yards a carry and threw a touchdown pass to Terrelle Pryor. Perhaps it's time youth is served.

Purdue's defense: The unluckiest offense in America has lost its top running back (Ralph Bolden), its top receiver (Keith Smith) and now its top quarterback (Robert Marve). But a bigger issue could be the Boilers' defense, which struggled Saturday to stop a Toledo offense that entered the game ranked last nationally in yards. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan is turning into this year's Brandon Graham: a great player on a very shaky defense. Purdue needs more from its front seven to protect a new-look secondary.

Penn State's red zone offense: Kudos to the Nittany Lions for finally reaching the end zone on an impressive 96-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, but they left too many points on the field. Penn State has scored only six touchdowns in 15 red zone opportunities this season. It needs to change in a hurry.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR RACE: OFFENSE

(Player, Week 4 performance)

1. Michigan QB Denard Robinson: five carries, 129 rush yards, 2 TDs; 4-for-4 passing, 60 yards in less than a quarter of work against Bowling Green.

2. Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor: 20-for-26 passing, 244 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT; seven carries for 104 rush yards, 1 TD; one reception for a 20-yard touchdown against Eastern Michigan.

3. Northwestern QB Dan Persa: 23 for-30 passing, 280 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 17 carries, 43 rush yards in win against Central Michigan.

4. Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi: 19-for-25 passing, 288 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT in win against Ball State.

5. Indiana QB Ben Chappell: 23-for-33 passing, 342 yards, 4 TDs in win against Akron.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR RACE: DEFENSE

1. Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan: 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, forced fumble, fumble recovery in loss to Toledo.

2. Michigan State LB Greg Jones: Recorded first two interceptions of his career plus a forced fumble, two quarterback hurries and four tackles in a win against Northern Colorado.

3. Northwestern LB Quentin Davie: Recorded a sack and a forced fumble in win against Central Michigan.

4. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Recorded three tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, in win against Austin Peay.

5. Ohio State S/LB Tyler Moeller: Recorded three tackles and a pass breakup in win against Eastern Michigan.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR RACE

1. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell: 11 carries, 93 rush yards, 3 TDs; 1 reception for 35 yards in win against Northern Colorado.

2. Wisconsin RB James White: 11 carries, 145 rush yards, 4 TDs; 2 kick returns for 45 yards; 1 reception for 12 yards in win against Austin Peay.

3. Penn State QB Rob Bolden: 18-for-28 passing, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs in win against Temple.

4. Indiana TE Ted Bolser: 3 receptions for 35 yards, 2 TDs in win against Akron.

5. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase: Bye week

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