Chicago Colleges: Helmet-stickers-092411

Big Ten viewer’s guide: Week 7

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
Week 7 is here, and let’s not sugarcoat it: Big Ten football has looked more interesting on other weekends. This first Saturday of the season without nonconference action lacks marquee matchups. Still, the division races will continue to take shape.

Here’s a look at the five games (all times Eastern):


Illinois (3-3) and Wisconsin (3-2), ESPN2: Will Melvin Gordon run for 300 yards? If the Badgers wanted it to happen, Illinois’ 119th-ranked rushing defense would likely comply. More of the intrigue in Madison involves the quarterbacks. For Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who returned last week against Northwestern, will see time, in addition to Tanner McEvoy, who might also take a shot at receiver. And with Illinois’ Wes Lunt out with a fractured leg, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, who was set to redshirt, have competed in practice this week.

Indiana (3-2) and Iowa (4-1), ESPNU: Indiana has shown it can win on the road in tough spots, handing Missouri its lone loss on Sept. 20. The Hoosiers are more explosive on offense than any foe Iowa has faced. But Indiana still can’t defend well, in particular against proficient quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes are going back to Jake Rudock at the start, but C.J. Beathard will play. How well can Greg Davis manage this? If it’s a disaster, Indiana might just find itself in the right place at the right time for an upset bid.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cobb
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDavid Cobb and Minnesota can take a big step in their quest for a Western Division crown by beating Northwestern on Saturday.
Northwestern (3-2) at Minnesota (4-1), BTN: Who would have guessed a month ago, as the Golden Gophers fell flat at TCU and the Wildcats sat winless, that this game would have legitimate implications for the West Division title race? It does, with NU in quest of a third straight unexpected win to open league play. Its defense led the charge against Penn State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is simply solid, led by David Cobb, statistically the league’s most valuable offensive player. Minnesota has defended the pass especially well in recent games and will test Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, 13th in the Big Ten in QBR.

3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) at Purdue (3-3), ESPN2: At least it’s not the best team in the Big Ten against the worst. Purdue escaped the low spot last week with a win over Illinois. And sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby looked good in the victory. Very good, in fact. Back at home, he figures to find a much more difficult situation against the Spartans, who might come in a bit angry after nearly blowing a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead against Nebraska.

7 p.m.

Penn State (4-1) at Michigan (2-4), ESPN2: The visitors from Happy Valley, after an off week, get an opportunity to show that their anemic performance against Northwestern was just a fluke. With an upcoming stretch of three challenging games, no better time exists for PSU to get healthy than at Michigan, trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Big Ten since 1965. Against a good Penn State front, the Wolverines must protect Devin Gardner and throw the football, neither of which they’ve done well in recent weeks.

Required reading

Notre Dame helmet stickers: Week 4

September, 24, 2011
PITTSBURGH — This wasn't a shellacking of the reigning Big Ten champs, but it was enough to move the Irish to .500. Here, we reward those who played big roles in the win.

Tyler Eifert: Game-highs of eight catches and 75 yards will get you credit, as will four catches on the go-ahead drive, including the touchdown and two-point conversion receptions. On a day Notre Dame's biggest threat couldn't get anything going, Eifert stepped up in a big way.

Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray: This wasn't the way the Irish drew it up, but it was successful nonetheless. Wood, the starter, was a force throughout, carrying it 23 times for 94 yards. Gray, who was supposed to wear defenses down, carried just three times for 84 yards, with his 79-yard touchdown proving huge in a close, low-scoring game.

Manti Te'o: Te'o once again paced the defense, recording a game-high 10 tackles, notching one of the Irish's five sacks and accounting for one of their four quarterback hurries. Tino Sunseri had to earn every yard he got in what turned into an old-fashioned brawl at Heinz Field.

Darius Fleming: Fleming had two of Notre Dame's five sacks and recorded three tackles for loss, pressuring Sunseri all afternoon. He had one quarterback hurry, too, and is elevating his status after Brian Kelly's "good not great" comment about his performance two short weeks ago.



Thursday, 10/23
Friday, 10/24
Saturday, 10/25