Chicago Colleges: Russ Eisenstein

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

Groce praised as coach, recruiter

March, 29, 2012

Here’s what others are saying about new Illinois coach John Groce:

“He has a great basketball mind and a hunger for getting himself and his team better daily. I think U of I has found its answer. The style of play is going to attract big time players,” – Philadelphia 76ers guard and former Ohio State player Evan Turner.

“He is a fantastic recruiter, fantastic. No messing around. No, ‘Well, he doesn’t do this.’ Terrific, terrific in people’s homes, terrific in terms of being able to evaluate. I think you have to be there. You have to be all things to all people when you’re a head coach in the Big Ten. You have to be able to recruit different places, different types of people, different family situations. I think he’s very good at that,” – ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich.

“He’s intense. He’s focused. I think he’s a tremendous head coach. His kids really love playing for him, and he loves his kids, too. I think he’s really grown as a head coach in his four years at Ohio. I think he took what he’s learned from others – Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter – and in Year 4 it’s a perfect storm of it all. It’s all seemed to click. When the lights are the brightest, I think that’s when he coaches his best,” – Ohio play-by-play announcer Russ Eisenstein.

“John Groce is a very energetic guy. He relates to his players extremely well. He’ s a very good recruiter. He’s come into the Chicagoland area and gotten D.J. Cooper, who is an outstanding players out of the south suburbs of Chicago. He’s familiar with the landscape,” – ESPN college basketball analyst and former Illinois player Stephen Bardo.

“He’s a very good guy. It think he’ll do a super job. I know John. He would have only taken it if he was completely sure. John had plenty of opportunities to become a head coach. He took his time,” – Former DePaul assistant and current St. Rita high school coach Gary DeCesare.

“What I know of coach Groce is throughout the years he’s done a great job recruiting wherever he’s been and has moved up the ladder. He’s done everything to move up to be considered for this job. He didn’t ask for the media circus around him. He didn’t create that,” – Illinois Wolves club coach Mike Mullins.

“It’s not a bad hire at all. I think he’s a great hire. I think he’s a dynamite communicator. He’s proven he can get kids to elevate their play. He’ll be able to deal with guys around Chicago. He’ll be able to win guys over,” – Illinois high school basketball analyst and former club coach Larry Butler.



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