Chicago Colleges: helmet-stickers-111105

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 10

November, 6, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- It's time to honor those who played the biggest roles in Notre Dame's 24-17 win over Wake Forest.

Jonas Gray: The senior had 92 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown, scoring in his sixth straight game and for the ninth time during that stretch. Keep in mind, folks, that he had zero career touchdowns before Week 4 at Pitt. Gray's 1-yard scoring plunge in the third tied the game and his 1-yard plunge from the Wake Forest 44 in the fourth sealed the game.

Cierre Wood: Wood finished with 87 yards on just 14 carries, throwing in a couple of nice jukes along the way. The junior had several big carries to start the Irish's final drive, ultimately leading them to victory.

Harrison Smith: A game-high 11 tackles. A huge forced fumble on second-and-goal for Wake Forest in a seven-point game. And a huge backfield tackle for a loss of 4 yards on another second-and-goal play. Smith was everywhere, leading the banged-up defense throughout the night.

Robert Blanton: Happy Homecoming. The game captain enjoyed his return to North Carolina by notching 10 tackles, including two for loss, and he was a force in stopping the Demon Deacons' passes into the flat.

Stephon Tuitt: Two big tackles for a loss, including a momentum-shifting sack for an 11-yard loss on first goal, earn the freshman this sticker. He was a workhorse on the line all night, as it was once again without Ethan Johnson and even missed fellow rookie Aaron Lynch for portions of the game as well.

Austin Collinsworth: Collinsworth had two kick returns for 67 yards, including a 41-yarder, giving the Irish great field position for their first two scores in a back-and-forth first quarter. He added a nice hit on the Demon Deacons' Lovell Jackson on a third-quarter kickoff return as well.



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