Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Big Ten stock report: Week 9
By Adam Rittenberg
Who moves up? Who moves down?
Let's take a look.
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball: Despite losing the backup job to James White and seeing his carries decrease, Ball waited his turn and came up big against Iowa. He caught a 7-yard pass on fourth-and-4 to keep Wisconsin's game-winning drive alive and finished things off with two 8-yard runs, the second a powerful burst that reached the end zone.
Illinois' special teams: Punter Anthony Santella and kicker Derek Dimke both have been great all season, but the kicking game got another boost against Indiana as Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey both blocked punts, one resulting in a safety. It marked the first time Illinois has blocked two punts in a game since Sept. 11, 1976, against Iowa.
Ohio State's defensive line: Humbled the week before by Wisconsin, the Buckeyes' front four responded with authority against Purdue. Each starter recorded at least one tackle for loss, and ends Cameron Heyward and Nathan Williams both notched sacks as Ohio State held Purdue to nine first downs and 30 rush yards.
Penn State QB Rob Bolden: Before leaving the Minnesota game with a head injury, Bolden was on fire, completing 11 of 13 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. The bye week clearly benefited the freshman, who settled into a nice rhythm. Hopefully, he's not out too long with an apparent concussion.
Iowa's special teams: The indelible image from Iowa's magical 2009 season was Adrian Clayborn's punt block and return for a touchdown at Penn State. This year has been blighted by special-teams blunders, from the blocked punt and kick return touchdown against Arizona, to having an extra point try blocked and allowing Wisconsin to convert a fake punt in last Saturday's loss.
Indiana QB Ben Chappell: The senior has been outstanding in Indiana's four victories and its loss to Michigan, but it's been a different story on the road against above-average Big Ten defenses. After throwing two interceptions in a Week 6 loss to Ohio State, Chappell was picked off three times at Illinois, and the Illini returned one for a touchdown.
Northwestern's fourth-quarter defense: Everyone is still talking about the fake punt Northwestern allowed early in the fourth quarter, but it wouldn't have mattered if the Wildcats had made a stop on Michigan State's 88-yard scoring drive. Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz took his foot off of the accelerator and didn't bring pressure, and Kirk Cousins picked apart a shaky secondary. Northwestern has allowed late scoring drives in each of its past two games.
Purdue's defense: The Boilers upgraded their play on defense in wins against Northwestern and Minnesota, but things went downhill from the get-go at The Shoe. Ohio State did pretty much as it pleased in a historic first half, piling up 42 points and 415 total yards, the highest-total for a half in the Jim Tressel era (2001-present). Ryan Kerrigan and his crew must do better this week at Illinois.