Big Ten: Ryan Aplin

If you enjoy points and passing offense, you'll like watching the Indiana Hoosiers in 2010.

Indiana swept its cushy nonconference slate with another high-scoring shootout win, rallying in the second half to beat Arkansas State 36-34 in Bloomington. Bill Lynch's squad now only needs two Big Ten wins to become bowl eligible.

Where would Indiana be without Ben Chappell? The senior quarterback rebounded from a rough day at Ohio State to pass for 382 yards and four touchdowns today.

He got a ton of help from talented receivers Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss, both of whom eclipsed 100 receiving yards. And perhaps the most encouraging sign for Indiana's offense was the play of running back Trea Burgess, who rushed for 96 yards on 19 carries in place of the injured Darius Willis. The big question is whether Burgess can be the answer against Big Ten defenses, and he faces a good one next week at Illinois.

Speaking of defense, Indiana's still worries me. Aside from two first-half interceptions, Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin threw the ball very well (33-for-44, 275 pass yards) against the Hoosiers. IU stopped the run well, but it's still too easy for teams to pass against its secondary.

I really think Indiana needs to win one of its next two contests, at Illinois and against Northwestern in Bloomington, to get to six wins. It likely needs to play a lot better on defense to do so.

We'll learn a lot about the Hoosiers before the end of the month.video

Indiana passes its way into lead

October, 16, 2010
10/16/10
2:48
PM ET
Although Indiana is getting a nice lift from running back Trea Burgess today, the Hoosiers remain a pass-first, pass-second offense.

Senior quarterback Ben Chappell appears headed for another 300-yard passing performance, as he has completed 22 of 36 passes for 267 yards and two scores. Senior wideout Terrance Turner has a touchdown grab, and Tandon Doss is having another big day.

The problem: Indiana's defense continues to struggle. Arkansas State just drove for a touchdown and trails by only two points with plenty of time left.

Ryan Aplin and the Red Wolves aren't going away.
If Indiana plans to make its second bowl in four years, it had better take care of business in the second half against Arkansas State.

The Hoosiers trailed the Red Wolves 14-12 at halftime, and the deficit would have been worse if not for an impressive 80-yard scoring drive at the end of the second quarter. After a slow start, IU quarterback Ben Chappell is picking up his play, completing 16 of 26 passes for 208 yards and a score.

Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin is the latest quarterback to take aim on Indiana's secondary. Aplin has completed 17 of 24 passes, but twice was picked off in the first half. The Red Wolves easily could have been up more than two points.

Some good news for Indiana as Trea Burgess has 44 rushing yards on eight carries. Indiana needs to spark his rushing attack in the wake of Darius Willis' season-ending injury.

Big Ten predictions: Week 7

October, 14, 2010
10/14/10
9:00
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I'm a coward.

I really thought Illinois had what it took to knock off Penn State last week, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. And like a quarterback who hesitates before making a bad pass, I got picked off.

I'll fully admit I didn't see Purdue beating Northwestern on the road, so kudos to the Boilers for that win. Anyway, a 3-2 week doesn't sit well.

Let's see if I can do better in Week 7.

Indiana 35, Arkansas State 24: You have two great quarterbacks (Ben Chappell and Ryan Aplin) and two shaky defenses. The result will be a pass-happy shootout won by Chappell and the Hoosiers, as receiver Tandon Doss has two touchdown catches. Indiana finishes off a very favorable nonconference slate at 4-0 before making a huge trip to Illinois next week.

Purdue 23, Minnesota 21: The Boilers come in with a ton of confidence on both sides of the ball, and quarterback Rob Henry will be able to run the ball on a Gophers team that ranks 100th nationally in rush yards allowed (196.3 ypg). Minnesota also will move the ball in this one, as Adam Weber does a better job of attacking Purdue's secondary than Northwestern did. Still, I can't see the Gophers putting it all together as Purdue moves to 2-0 in league play.

Michigan State 26, Illinois 20: This is a trap game for the Spartans, but they shouldn't overlook Illinois after what the Illini did to Penn State last week. I like the matchup of Michigan State linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordon against Illinois' run-heavy scheme. The first team to beat Michigan State will need to do it through the air. Illinois hangs tight for the entire game, but Michigan State is too tough as quarterback Kirk Cousins turns in another efficient performance.

Iowa 30, Michigan 24: This is my prediction of the week. Check back later for a video post breaking down my selection.

Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 23: This is certainly one that could go either way, and if Wisconsin can reduce Ohio State to a one-dimensional offense, the Badgers have a very good shot. But what has Wisconsin shown this year to indicate it's capable of knocking off the nation's No. 1 team? The Badgers come in fired up and take an early lead, but Terrelle Pryor, still a bit limited by his quad injury, has a big second half attacking the middle of Wisconsin's defense. Ohio State's opportunistic defense forces two turnovers and escapes Madison with a W.

Bye: Northwestern, Penn State

Last week: 3-2

Season record: 45-7 (.865)
It's time to look back at Saturday's action before peeking ahead at Week 7 in the Big Ten.

[+] EnlargeNathan Scheelhaase
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicNathan Scheelhaase played well in Happy Valley as Illinois made history.
Team of the week: Illinois. The Fighting Illini made history in more than one way Saturday at Penn State. They recorded their first win in Happy Valley and handed Penn State its worst Homecoming loss (33-13) in Joe Paterno's 45 years as head coach. After giving Ohio State a scare in Week 5, Illinois continued to deliver on defense, stuffing Penn State in the red zone and getting a huge lift from Nate Bussey's pick-six. Vic Koenning's defense held Penn State to season lows in first downs (7), total yards (235), third-down conversions (2-for-14) and time of possession (21:48). Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase showed impressive growth in his first road Big Ten start and capitalized on a banged-up Penn State defense. Michigan State and Purdue merit mentions for road wins.

Best game: Purdue at Northwestern. Not many choices here as four of the five Big Ten games were decided by 17 points or more. At least the Boilers and Wildcats provided some fourth-quarter drama. Down 17-13, Purdue mounted a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive that featured two third-down conversions and a fourth-down touchdown run by Dan Dierking to give his team the lead with 3:54 left. Northwestern quickly moved the ball into Purdue territory and appeared set up for the game-winning touchdown when Jacob Schmidt dashed inside the 5-yard line on third-and-5. But a holding penalty negated the run and Northwestern had to settle for a potential game-tying field-goal attempt, which senior Stefan Demos missed badly. The banged-up Boilers left Evanston with a confidence-boosting win.

Biggest play: Not a clear choice this week. Purdue made several big plays to win its Big Ten opener, including Dierking's 7-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-inches and Kawann Short's field-goal block early in the fourth quarter. Bussey's pick-six against Penn State was huge for Illinois, and Michigan State set the tone for a big second half at Michigan with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Mark Dell early in the third quarter. Cousins got the ball away just before absorbing a hit and made a perfect throw to Dell for the score.

Specialist spotlight: Illinois kicker Derek Dimke gets the nod this week after going 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts at Penn State, connecting from 50, 41, 37 and 31 yards away. His 50-yarder put Illinois up 17-10 in the second quarter, and he closed the half with a 31-yarder. Dimke became the first Illinois kicker to make four field goals in a game since 2006. Several Big Ten punters had good days Saturday, including Michigan State's Aaron Bates (45-yard average, two punts inside the 20), Penn State's Anthony Fera (6 points, 44-yard average) and Purdue's Cody Webster (6 punts, 47.7-yard average).

Most talked-about call: Bret Bielema's decision to attempt a two-point conversion with Wisconsin leading Minnesota 41-16 midway through the fourth quarter. Bielema claimed he was following the coaches' guide on when to go for two, but Minnesota coach Tim Brewster and many others saw it as an attempt to run up the score. Brewster might not get a chance for revenge in the rivalry, but you can bet Minnesota's underclassmen will remember what happened.

Game balls:

  • Illinois LB Nate Bussey: Bussey made an athletic play to record a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown against Penn State and tied his career high with eight tackles in the victory.
  • Purdue's defense: Hard to give this to only one player, so the Boilers' defenders will have to share after an outstanding effort at Northwestern. Some notables include linebacker Joe Holland (12 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack), tackle Kawann Short (8 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 blocked kick, 1 pass breakup) and safety Logan Link (6 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup). Ryan Kerrigan had a sack and created a ton of problems for Northwestern.
  • Michigan State S Trenton Robinson: Robinson came up big on the opening drive against Michigan, recording a touchdown-saving tackle on Michael Shaw and then intercepting a Denard Robinson pass in the end zone. The much-hyped Spartans junior finished with seven tackles and a pass breakup in the win.
  • Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins: Cousins has been brilliant in his last six quarters of football and dissected Michigan for 284 pass yards on 18 of 25 attempts with a touchdown and no interceptions.
  • Ohio State WR DeVier Posey: Somewhat overshadowed by fellow receiver Dane Sanzenbacher this year, Posey led Ohio State in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (103) in Saturday's blowout win against Indiana. He hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor in the second quarter.
  • Wisconsin LB Mike Taylor: Taylor recorded a career-high three tackles for loss against Minnesota and finished with seven stops in the game.

OK, now let's take a quick look at Week 7.

Illinois (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 13 Michigan State (6-0, 2-0): In most years, this would be a classic trap game for Michigan State, which comes off of two emotion-charged victories against ranked opponents. This Spartans team seems much more grounded and mentally tough. Still, Illinois' improved defense and strong running game provides a good test. Two the Big Ten's best running backs match up with Michigan State's Edwin Baker and Illinois' Mikel Leshoure.

Minnesota (1-5, 0-2) at Purdue (3-2, 1-0): What looked like the Basement Bowl before Saturday night suddenly becomes an opportunity for Purdue to start 2-0 in league play. Freshman quarterback Rob Henry tries to gash a Minnesota defense that allows 196.3 rush yards a game, last in the Big Ten. Minnesota has won back-to-back games in the series and needs a victory in the worst way Saturday.

Arkansas State (2-4) at Indiana (3-2): After back-to-back losses, Indiana should get well against an Arkansas State team that ranks 88th nationally against the pass (237.7 ypg). That said, the Hoosiers shouldn't overlook a Red Wolves team that can throw the ball with talented sophomore Ryan Aplin and has been in every game since a season-opening 26-point loss to Auburn. Indiana needs to get its defense in order before resuming Big Ten play at Illinois.

No. 15 Iowa (4-1, 1-0) at Michigan (5-1, 1-1): Extra prep time usually translates to Iowa success, and the Hawkeyes have had two weeks to prepare for Denard Robinson after shutting down Penn State. Robinson ran for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Hawkeyes last year, and he'll provide a good test for Adrian Clayborn and the defense. Look for Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi to attack Michigan's shaky secondary down the field with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

No. 1 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) at No. 18 Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1): All eyes will be on Madison as Ohio State tries to take a big step toward the national championship game against a Wisconsin team that is 40-4 at home since the start of the 2004 season. Wisconsin's home dominance is offset by Ohio State's brilliant play in Big Ten road games under Jim Tressel. Ohio State boasts the more accomplished defense, but Wisconsin can be the Big Ten's best offense when hitting on all cylinders.

Bye: Northwestern (5-1, 1-1), Penn State (3-3, 0-2)

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