Big Ten: Garrett Miller

Big Ten internal affairs: Week 8

October, 15, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Time for our weekly look inside five Big Ten teams.

Michigan State -- The Spartans went deep into their roster against Northwestern, as 59 of the 70 players in uniform for the game saw action in a 37-20 victory. Freshmen Glenn Winston and Keshawn Martin made big contributions on kickoff returns and in the passing game, and Jeremy Ware sparked a banged-up secondary with five pass break-ups. Michigan State could be a bit healthier for Saturday's clash against No. 12 Ohio State, as top cover corner Chris L. Rucker might return from an elbow injury. Wideout Mark Dell remains the starter on the depth chart despite being limited against Northwestern with an undisclosed injury.

Ohio State -- Head coach Jim Tressel reaffirmed his support Tuesday for starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor despite struggles on offense the last few weeks. Tight end Jake Ballard stumped for senior Todd Boeckman and a two-quarterback system that could better balance the offense. The Buckeyes rank 108th nationally in pass offense and 70th in scoring, but Tressel is satisfied with the direction. Pryor's individual yardage totals have dropped in each of the last three weeks, but Ohio State continues to win and didn't fare much better with Boeckman at the helm.

Wisconsin -- In addition to having no definitive starting quarterback at this point in game week, Wisconsin could have a new look on the offensive line Saturday at Iowa. Right guard Kraig Urbik, who has made 45 consecutive starts on the line, likely will miss the game after sustaining a knee injury last Saturday against Penn State. Sophomore Bill Nagy would start in Urbik's place. The Badgers are a bit more hopeful about getting left tackle Gabe Carimi back for Iowa, though Carimi also has a knee injury and is questionable. Redshirt freshman Josh Oglesby could get his second straight start and would protect the quarterback's blind side if right-hander Dustin Sherer replaces Allan Evridge.

Purdue -- The Boilermakers' offensive line had another setback with the season-ending loss of tackle Garrett Miller to a foot injury. Miller, a fifth-year senior, will undergo surgery in the coming weeks. Purdue's other tackle, Sean Sester, has been battling back problems this season, and right guard Justin Pierce is struggling with headaches. Starting center Cory Benton hurt his elbow against Ohio State and reserve center Jared Zwilling recently had an ankle injury. Purdue is tied for 52nd nationally in sacks allowed (1.67 per game) and on Saturday faces a Northwestern defense that is tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks (19).

Illinois -- Juice Williams' importance to the Illini offense has become even greater after the weekend arrest of backup quarterback Eddie McGee. The sophomore was arrested for allegedly shoving a woman, and his status for Saturday's game against Indiana is unclear. McGee has appeared in only one game this season, completing one of two passes, but he's the only other Illinois quarterback with collegiate game experience. Williams leads the Big Ten in passing (279.5 ypg) and ranks fourth nationally in total offense (353.7 ypg).

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The real referendum on the Big Ten comes this afternoon and tonight, but the league avoided any setbacks in the early games. Michigan State's Javon Ringer can expect a helmet sticker in his future after rushing for 276 yards and two scores on 43 carries, but defense dominated in East Lansing and elsewhere in the early games.

Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern allowed a combined 12 points in victories. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has to be thrilled with his defense, which underachieved earlier this year, and Iowa's looked solid protecting the red zone.

Illinois should be a little worried after having to hang on against Louisiana-Lafayette. The defense struggled in the fourth quarter and Juice Williams couldn't find a passing rhythm. A 3-point win at home could knock the Illini out of the polls.

Surprisingly, the sun is out here at Ross-Ade Stadium, but a strong wind is blowing to the northeast. Could be trouble for Curtis Painter and the Purdue offense. And there's still a chance for thunderstorms. Game-time temperature is 88 degrees (heat index of 92).

I'm no fashion guru, but Oregon's road unis look chic: green pants, white jerseys and white helmets. It's certainly an upgrade from these eyesores. The Ducks coaches look a bit like crossing guards in their bright yellow shirts, but overall, not bad.

The world's largest drum made its appearance with Purdue's marching band. Those guys with conquistador hats ran it around the field. A pretty funny sight.

A couple of depth chart changes for Purdue: