Big Ten: Quinn Evans

Big Ten power rankings: Week 11

November, 5, 2012
Week 10 brought few surprises around the Big Ten. As a result, the power rankings see little shuffling before the second Saturday of November.

Ohio State cruised to a perfect 10-0, while Michigan and Penn State both recorded road wins in impressive fashion. In the two true toss-up games, Indiana outlasted Iowa and Nebraska rallied for a dramatic win against hard-luck Michigan State. Our top five teams from Week 9 remain the same. The toughest call comes at No. 3, as there's very little separating Penn State and Michigan, who unfortunately don't play this season. But both teams recorded decisive road wins, so we're keeping the Lions ahead for now. Both teams face bigger challenges in Week 11 with Nebraska and Northwestern, respectively.

Indiana makes a small move after its win, while the bottom of the league stays intact.

To the rundown:

1. Ohio State (10-0, 5-0, last week: 1): Ten straight weeks of games, 10 straight wins for Urban Meyer's Buckeyes, who get a well-deserved break after thumping Illinois at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State is 10-0 for the first time since 2007 as it chases its first perfect season since 2002, when it captured a national title. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde form the Big Ten's most dangerous backfield and the defense continues to make big plays, getting another interception from CB Travis Howard. Ohio State has scored 52 points or more in three Big Ten games. It resumes play Nov. 17 at Wisconsin.

2. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1, last week: 2): For the second time in three weeks, Nebraska faced a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of a Legends Division road game. And once again, the Huskers found a way to win behind QB Taylor Martinez, who overcame three turnovers (nearly four) to fire the game-winning touchdown strike and eclipse 200 rush yards. Nebraska wouldn't announce itself in the Big Ten until it recorded signature road wins, and the Huskers finally have gotten over the hump after the Ohio State debacle Oct. 6. Bo Pelini's team is in control of the Legends Division and might lock it up with a win this week against Penn State.

3. Penn State (6-3, 4-1, last week: 3): Resiliency has been Penn State's calling card under Bill O'Brien, so it wasn't surprising to see the Nittany Lions bounce back well from their first Big Ten loss. The Lions re-established the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, shutting down Purdue's offense and generating a nice power run game behind RB Zach Zwinak. Penn State racked up a season-high 506 yards of offense as QB Matt McGloin had another 300-yard passing performance. Gerald Hodges led the way on defense with three tackles for loss. Penn State has been dominant on the road in Big Ten play but faces its biggest test this week in Lincoln.

4. Michigan (6-3, 4-1, last week: 4): No Denard Robinson? No problem for Michigan despite a potentially tricky game at Minnesota. Devin Gardner moved from wide receiver to quarterback and stepped up in a big way in place of Robinson, while Gardner's fellow wideouts Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon picked him up with key catches as Michigan revived its passing attack against one of the nation's top pass defenses. The Wolverines' defense stepped up repeatedly in the red zone as Michigan retained the Little Brown Jug. Michigan must keep pace with Nebraska to stay alive in the division race and needs to beat Northwestern this week.

5. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2, last week: 5): Pat Fitzgerald gave his team a "C" for October, as the Wildcats went 2-2 in a month in which they've historically struggled. Northwestern now enters a month in which it typically thrives under Fitzgerald, and the Wildcats remain alive in the Legends Division chase, although they need Nebraska to start losing. They'll look for some of their road magic the next two weeks against the Michigan schools, and they also hope to regain the services of injured defensive backs Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans. It'll be interesting to see if QB Kain Colter truly has control of the offense this week at the Big House.

6. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2, last week: 7): The open week came at a perfect time for the Badgers, who must regroup after losing starting quarterback Joel Stave to a season-ending broken clavicle. Danny O'Brien and Curt Phillips competed for the top job throughout the practice week, as the staff decides who will lead the offense in a now crucial game at Indiana before a tough closing stretch (Ohio State, at Penn State). The Badgers will need a big game from their defense in Bloomington and arguably a bigger game from Montee Ball and the rushing attack against an Indiana team that struggles against the run.

7. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4, last week: 6): Close losses have defined Michigan State's season, and the Spartans suffered another devastating setback Saturday after having Nebraska on the hopes. Controversial calls once again played into the outcome, but the Spartans' defense couldn't get the stops it needed and surrendered 313 rush yards to the Huskers. RB Le'Veon Bell came to play, but QB Andrew Maxwell had another rough day. Michigan State must regroup during an off week before fighting for bowl eligibility the final two weeks. It needs one more win and faces Northwestern (home) and Minnesota (road).

8. Indiana (4-5, 2-3, last week: 9): This isn't a great Indiana team, but it also isn't a typical Indiana team. Typical Hoosiers teams would have folded after falling behind 14-0 on their home field against Iowa. But the 2012 Hoosiers didn't back down, steadied themselves and outlasted Iowa to record back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time since 2007 and their first Big Ten home win since 2009. Cameron Coffman re-emerged at QB, while WR Cody Latimer had a huge day (7 catches, 113 yards, 3 TDs). The defense allowed only 14 points as IU set up a huge Leaders Division showdown this week against Wisconsin.

9. Minnesota (5-4, 1-4, last week: 8): Missed opportunity was the catchphrase for Minnesota on Saturday after failing to capitalize against a Robinson-less Michigan team. The Gophers couldn't build on a 7-0 lead and repeatedly stubbed their toe in the red zone, despite some decent play from QB Philip Nelson. Jerry Kill has cleansed the program of a lot of problems from the Tim Brewster era, but terrible penalties have remained. The Gophers have scored 13 points in all four of their Big Ten losses. Minnesota's typically stout pass defense also struggled against a backup quarterback. The Gophers try to get bowl-eligible this week when they travel to slumping Illinois.

10. Iowa (4-5, 2-3, last week: 10): The Hawkeyes slipped below .500 for the first time since 2007, and barring a surprising turnaround, they won't get back on the right side of the mark this season. Despite a very strong start at Indiana, the same problems surfaced on both sides of the ball as Iowa couldn't translate yards into points and surrendered way too many yards to their opponent. Senior QB James Vandenberg will get more criticism, and his end zone interception didn't help, but the problems go beyond him on a team that just isn't very good in any area. Iowa could get well against Purdue this week but will be an underdog in its final two games (Michigan, Nebraska).

11. Purdue (3-6, 0-5, last week: 11): We wish we could drop Purdue lower after its fourth Big Ten blowout loss in five games. Alas, there's Illinois. One of those teams amazingly will get a Big Ten win when they meet Nov. 17 in Champaign. Purdue still can get bowl-eligible, but it will need a rapid turnaround in its final three games and show a lot more fight on the defensive side of the ball. The offense once again looked good on the opening drive and then disappeared, as QB Robert Marve couldn't stretch the field. Another poor performance at home before a mostly empty Ross-Ade Stadium turns up the heat even more on embattled coach Danny Hope.

12. Illinois (2-7, 0-5, last week: 12): We knew there would be no bowl for the Illini this year, but Ohio State made it official Saturday, handing Tim Beckman's team its seventh loss. After a decent first quarter, Illinois reverted to form and imploded before halftime. The offense once again couldn't stretch the field, and slumping junior QB Nathan Scheelhaase threw an interception and completed 19 passes for only 96 yards. Illinois is right there with Colorado and Kentucky in the group of the worst major-conference teams in the country. The Illini need to generate something positive down the stretch before the 2013 campaign.
Here's the latest check of personnel nuggets from around the Big Ten:


Nebraska senior running back Rex Burkhead is day-to-day for the Michigan game after aggravating his left knee injury for the second time in three weeks Saturday at Northwestern. Coach Bo Pelini is taking a cautious approach with Burkhead and mentioned he's inclined to have the senior rest a week even though the latest aggravation isn't as bad as what happened at Ohio State on Oct. 6. "He felt really good going into the [Northwestern] game, didn't have any issues in practice," Pelini said. "He's frustrated and obviously disappointed he's had to deal with it. It's been too bad." Ameer Abdullah, who leads Nebraska with 514 rush yards and seven touchdowns, will fill in for Burkhead if the senior can't play against the Wolverines. Huskers defensive tackle Chase Rome (concussion) remains out for Michigan, while cornerback Josh Mitchell (ankle) could play and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (shoulder) will play.


Cornerback Ramon Taylor, who suffered an undisclosed injury last week against Michigan State, is listed as a starter on the depth chart for this week's game at Nebraska. Head coach Brady Hoke said Taylor had "a little boo-boo" and that he would "probably be OK, most likely."


Badgers head coach Bret Bielema said he's unsure if left tackle Ricky Wagner will be available for this week's game against Michigan State. Wagner injured his right knee two weeks ago against Purdue. Ryan Groy filled in at left tackle in the second half against the Boilers and in last week's win over Minnesota.


The Wildcats secondary could be very thin against Iowa this week. Cornerbacks Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans are doubtful because of injuries, head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. Daniel Jones has been starting ahead of Evans, but VanHoose, who suffered a shoulder injury against Nebraska and was missed down the stretch, is clearly the team's top cover man. In better news, star running back Venric Mark -- who left the second half of the Nebraska game with an undisclosed injury -- is expected to play Saturday, Fitzgerald said.


As expected, Nolan MacMillan is listed as the starter at left tackle in place of the injured Brandon Scherff (leg). Right guard Andrew Donnal (knee) isn't listed on the depth chart for the Northwestern game, as redshirt freshman Austin Blythe is listed as the starter. Mark Weisman and Greg Garmon are listed as co-starters at running back.


Linebacker Joshua Perry and wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown both are expected to be fine for the Penn State game after getting nicked up against Purdue. The news isn't so good for freshman special teams ace Devan Bogard, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. "He's one of my favorite guys on the team, top five guy on the team, Devan Bogard," coach Urban Meyer said. "... If we could go out and recruit a hundred Bogards, life would be pretty good around here."


Linebacker Chase Hoobler, who has been battling back issues, is listed on the depth chart for Illinois at backup middle linebacker. Forisse Hardin is listed at starting strong-side linebacker, as Jacarri Alexander had a stinger last week and missed the Navy game.

Big Ten Monday personnel notes

October, 15, 2012
A few personnel nuggets from around the league as we inch toward Week 8. Iowa running back Mark Weisman (ankle) isn't on the two-deep for Penn State, although coach Kirk Ferentz hasn't totally ruled him out.
  • Wisconsin LT Ricky Wagner (knee) is listed as the starter on the depth chart for Minnesota, but his status for the game is still to be determined. Offensive line coach Bart Miller told reporters Sunday that Wagner would only miss a game if he doesn't suit up Saturday. LB Ethan Armstrong (knee) also is listed as a starter on the two-deep, and it seems like there's a decent chance both he and DE Tyler Dippel will play against the Gophers.
  • As expected, Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead will play this week against Northwestern after re-aggravating his left knee injury Oct. 6 at Ohio State and leaving the game. Coach Bo Pelini said Burkhead will be eased into practice this week.
  • After leading Ohio State in tackles at Indiana as a linebacker, top fullback Zach Boren will be seeing more time on defense in the coming weeks. The Buckeyes have little depth and almost no veteran depth at linebacker, and Boren certainly held his own in his first real action of the season as a defender. Coach Urban Meyer describes Boren's move as "temporarily permanent."
  • In other Buckeyes news, DE Nathan Williams (concussion) is expected to return this week against Purdue. RB Jordan Hall (knee) is doubtful and is "not healing well," according to Meyer.
  • Michigan RB Vincent Smith (hamstring) and FB Stephen Hopkins (hamstring) are expected to play this week against Michigan State. And if there was any doubt, QB Denard Robinson (hand) is fine and said he has had no limitations.
  • Northwestern moved CB Daniel Jones ahead of Quinn Evans on the depth chart for Saturday's game against Nebraska. Evans struggled against Minnesota but still will be part of the Wildcats' nickel package. Northwestern also will go with the all-black jerseys against the Huskers, who are looking for their own blackshirts.

Big Ten lunch links

August, 9, 2012
Working for the weekend ...

Impact transfers in the Big Ten

July, 14, 2012
Who are the impact transfers in (and out) of the Big Ten in 2012? Keep an eye on these players who switched four-year schools and who should be eligible this season:

Incoming transfers

Danny O'Brien, QB, Wisconsin (from Maryland): O'Brien hopes to follow Russell Wilson's playbook and go directly from the ACC to the Rose Bowl with the Badgers. O'Brien, who graduated from Maryland to become immediately eligible, is expected to start at quarterback and solve the depth problems Wisconsin has. And he'll be able to play in 2013, too.

DeAnthony Arnett, WR, Michigan State (from Tennessee): Receiver is a major position of need for the Spartans, so it was great news when Arnett was ruled immediately eligible after transferring to be close to his ailing father. Arnett had 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman for the Volunteers in 2011.

Kyle Prater, WR, Northwestern (from USC): Prater is still awaiting word on whether he'll be immediately eligible this season. But if he is cleared, the former blue-chip recruit should make a major contribution for the Wildcats with his size and speed.

Quinn Evans, CB, Northwestern (from Stanford): The Wildcats know that Evans, who graduated from Stanford, can play right away. And though he missed all of last year with an injury, Evans could provide help to a secondary that really struggled in 2011.

Brock DeCicco, TE, Wisconsin (from Pitt): DeCicco started three games for Pittsburgh in 2010 before switching to the tight end haven that is Wisconsin. The Badgers already have All-America candidate Jacob Pedersen at the position, but DeCicco should provide additional depth and playmaking skills.

Tommy Davis, S/KR, Illinois (from Northern Illinois): Davis graduated from Northern Illinois and became immediately eligible for the Illini when he transferred earlier this summer. He's a two-time All-MAC kick returner who could help Illinois' woeful special teams while providing depth in the secondary.

Outgoing transfers

Marcus Coker, RB, Stony Brook (from Iowa): Coker led Iowa in rushing and was second in the Big Ten with 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns. He transferred to the FCS after some off-the-field problems. His departure was a big loss for the Hawkeyes and he figures to dominate at a lower level if focused.

Big Ten lunch links

June, 19, 2012
Division I conference commissioners meet today and Wednesday in Chicago. Colleague Mark Schlabach and I will be on hand, so be sure and check the blog and the college football home page for coverage.
Northwestern's struggles in the secondary are well documented and hardly exclusive to the 2011 season. After losing three starters, including first-team All-Big Ten safety Brian Peters, the group is a ginormous area of concern entering the season.

The Wildcats got some help Monday by adding Quinn Evans, a graduate transfer from Stanford, to their roster. Evans, a cornerback for the Cardinal, will be eligible for the 2012 season because he'll complete his sociology degree at Stanford later this month. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

A native of Chandler, Ariz., Evans played just two seasons for the Cardinal. He redshirted in 2009 and missed all of last season because of injury. Evans played mostly on special teams in 2009 and 2010 -- he started one game at cornerback in 2009 -- and recorded a total of 13 tackles and two pass breakups. He'll begin pursuing his master's degree at Northwestern.
"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to finish my college football and academic careers at Northwestern," Evans said in a prepared statement. "My visit to campus and the relationships I've developed with Coach [Pat] Fitzgerald and other members of the Northwestern football program have left no doubt that NU is the right fit for me at this time. I'm looking forward to meeting my new teammates at the start of camp and contributing any way I can to our success this season."

Northwestern obviously needs Evans to stay healthy and contribute more than he did at Stanford, but there's no downside to this move, as the roster lacks experience and many upperclassmen at the cornerback or safety spots. This isn't Danny O'Brien stepping in for Wisconsin, but Northwestern's need in the secondary mirrors that of Wisconsin's at the quarterback spot.

Fitzgerald in April called the graduate transfer rule "one of those rules that doesn't make a lot of sense," but added that if it's there, coaches should use it.

Northwestern is still awaiting word on another Pac-12 transfer, Kyle Prater, the former USC wide receiver who hopes to earn a waiver that would make him eligible for the 2012 season. The NCAA is reviewing Prater's paperwork, and a decision could come anywhere from later this month to sometime in August.