Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Big Ten Morning Briefing: Gophers facing adversity
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Tuesday blog was a little Buckeye heavy -- apparently they have a big game this week -- so it's time to see what else happened around the league. Let's see ... bad news at Minnesota, no news at Penn State.
- Like it or not, Ohio State is carrying the Big Ten flag this weekend, though other teams also need to step up, Dave Curtis writes in The Sporting News.
- Defensive lineman Will Davis is pulling double duty for Illinois, and freshman Cory Liuget will have a big role soon up front, Stu Durando writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Illinois' opponent this week, Louisiana-Lafayette, has more important things than football on its mind, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- After a strong performance against Murray State, Indiana's Marcus Thigpen wants the Hoosiers' running backs to have a greater role, Brian Hedger writes in the Gary Post-Tribune.
- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is just 3-6 against rival Iowa State, and he's well aware of the missed opportunities, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Iowa is getting healthy for Saturday, especially in the passing game, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Michigan's defense has the experience -- and now the speed -- to carry the load while the offense transitions, Brian Hamilton writes in the Chicago Tribune. Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis dropped in on Rich Rodriguez last year to learn about the spread offense, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. Weis also said his "To hell with Michigan" comment was an homage to Bo. Whatever you say, coach.
- A lot of tough talk from Florida Atlantic this season. After coach Howard Schnellenberger dissed Texas, kick returner Jeff Blanchard, reportedly, had this to say about Michigan State: "We will score a lot against them, trust me." I didn't realize winning the Sun Belt was license to pop off. At least Spartans coach Mark Dantonio is taking a rational approach to the game, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- A season-ending injury to running back Duane Bennett and injuries to two starting offensive linemen will test undefeated Minnesota, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune. Here's a good look at the three men trying to replace Bennett, courtesy of Marcus Fuller in the Star Tribune.
- Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher is focused on limiting turnovers, even if his completion percentage suffers, Jim O'Donnell writes in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Wildcats need fewer dropped passes and more from defensive tackle John Gill, but the secondary finally looks solid, Lindsey Willhite writes in the Daily Herald.
- A heavily criticized Ohio State team has an opportunity to change things Saturday, Pete Thamel writes in The New York Times. Many give the loser of Saturday's game an outside chance to still reach the BCS title game, but after back-to-back failures, Ohio State knows it needs to be perfect, Teddy Greenstein writes in the Chicago Tribune. Jim Tressel in a Tommy Bahama? Pete Carroll in a sweater vest? Here's a great piece on the differences between the two coaches from The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises.
- Penn State's defensive line continues to be in flux, Frank Bodani writes in The York Daily Record. ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel and others weigh in on the impact of Penn State's most recent disciplinary lapse, John Ross writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Some funny lines from Purdue coach Joe Tiller about the Oregon matchup, though linebacker Jason Werner's latest back injury is no laughing matter, Tom Kubat writes in The Journal and Courier.
- All-America tight end Travis Beckum can't wait to make his season debut for Wisconsin at Fresno State, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Badgers linebacker Jaevery McFadden clouds mistakes with top-end speed, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.