NCF Nation: D'Angelo Roberts

Big Ten weekend rewind: Week 14

December, 2, 2013
There were two huge rivalry games Saturday, with BCS national title implications at stake. What were the odds that both underdog home teams would score a touchdown to get within one point with 32 seconds left in the game?

That was the scenario in both the Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn games. You know what happened. Brady Hoke went for the two-point conversion and didn't get it. Auburn chose to kick the extra point for the tie and won on a heaven-sent final play.

[+] EnlargeMichael Bennett
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesOhio State survived a scare from Michigan after the Wolverines failed on a two-point conversion to win the game.
Of course, the Tigers and Wolverines were in vastly different situations. Auburn had much more on the line, while Michigan's season would have been made by beating Ohio State. Auburn also knew that Alabama had a dicey kicking situation. Yet Michigan also was at home, where it had lost only once under Hoke, and it already had played in two overtime games this season. The Wolverines could have given themselves a chance to win on a miracle in regulation or in overtime.

Ultimately, I had no problem with Hoke's call, though the two-point play itself was uninspiring. Sometimes it's not the decision but how it unfolds.

Consider that in the biggest play calls for both Penn State and Northwestern on Saturday, both coaches went with a run up the middle on third down. The Nittany Lions' surprise draw play on third-and-9 from their 19 resulted in a 61-yard gain by Zach Zwinak that put Wisconsin away. Northwestern went with a basic running play on third-and-6 at Illinois and got 11 yards from Treyvon Green, allowing the Wildcats to then run out the clock.

Had those runs been stuffed, both coaches would have been criticized for being too conservative and playing not to lose. It's a tough world, coaching. Unless you are blessed with Guz Malzahn's luck.

Take that and rewind it back ...

Team of the week: Penn State. Absolutely no one saw the Nittany Lions' 31-24 win at Wisconsin coming, especially because PSU had played so poorly on the road in Big Ten play. But coach Bill O'Brien led his team to another victory in a season finale, and recording two straight winning seasons under heavy NCAA sanctions is wildly impressive.

Worst hangover: BCS for Wisconsin? Yes, if that stands for Badgers Caught Sleepwalking. Instead of earning a possible Orange Bowl bid, the Badgers laid a giant egg. A tremendously successful large senior class somehow went out on the worst possible note at Camp Randall Stadium.

Big Men on Campus (offense): It has been a tough year for Northwestern, but the Wildcats finally got a Big Ten win at Illinois. And quarterback Trevor Siemian and receiver Christian Jones were big reasons why. Siemian threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns, while Jones had two of those scores during a 13-catch, 182-yard career day.

Big Man on Campus (defense): Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey was named Walter Camp national defensive player of the week after recording 11 tackles, including three for loss, plus a sack and a forced fumble against Nebraska. Really, you could just as easily single out fellow linebackers James Morris and Anthony Hitchens, who also had great games to cap tremendous seasons by all three. The Hawkeyes will really miss all three seniors next year.

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Eric Francis/Getty ImagesIowa's Mark Weisman scored two touchdowns in the win over the Cornhuskers.
Big Man on Campus (special teams): Chris Davis. Sure, he plays for Auburn. But his incredible 109-yard kick-six touchdown against Alabama just might allow a Big Ten team to play for the national title for the first time since the 2007 season. Buckeye Nation is a big fan of Davis.

Strangest moment: Penn State's hurry-up offense clearly confused Wisconsin's defense several times. The most obvious moment came early in the third quarter, when the Badgers had only nine men on defense when the Nittany Lions ran a play. Somehow, Wisconsin got out of that power-play situation when Tanner McEvoy broke up an underthrown deep ball.

Pointing the thumb or the finger? Coaches always talk a good game about accountability, and Bo Pelini usually is one to take blame for a poor performance by his team. But the Nebraska coach looked everywhere but in the mirror on his 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Iowa. Pelini said the call was chicken manure -- I'm paraphrasing -- and even brought Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's own sideline demeanor into the conversation.

But where was the personal responsibility for Pelini nearly hitting an official in the face with his hat? In what other sport -- or walk of life -- would that be acceptable? Even Prop Joe and Avon Barksdale ("The Wire" nerd alert) knew better than to accost the ref in their annual basketball game. Pelini is lucky to still be employed by Nebraska after Friday's meltdowns.

A Bucket load of offense: Indiana took out a little offensive frustration on Purdue. After being bottled up on offense by Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Hoosiers unleashed a school record 692 yards and 42 first downs to win the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time in three years. Tre Roberson, D'Angelo Roberts and Stephen Houston all rushed for more than 100 yards for Indiana, the first time in school history the team produced a trio of 100-yard rushers in the same game.

Zero sum game: Minnesota failed to score an offensive touchdown in its final 10 quarters of the regular season. The lack of an explosive/entertaining offense could hurt the Gophers come bowl selection time. Meanwhile, Michigan State has held six opponents without an offensive TD and pitched shutouts in six of its eight Big Ten games.

Fun with numbers: Because the debate is about to take over our lives, some key comparisons between Ohio State and Auburn:

  • Scoring margin: Plus-27.9 per game for Ohio State, plus-16.1 for Auburn
  • Rushing yardage: 321.3 per game for Ohio State, 318.3 for Auburn
  • Total yards: 530.5 per game for Ohio State, 491 for Auburn
  • Team adjusted QBR: 83.8 for Ohio State, 81.0 for Auburn
  • Yards allowed per game: 355.8 for Ohio State, 414.3 for Auburn
  • Sagarin strength of schedule rating: 61st for Ohio State, 26th for Auburn
  • Wins over ranked teams: One for Ohio State (Wisconsin), three for Auburn (Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M)
Rivalry week in the Big Ten left no doubt: The conference's top two teams will meet in the league championship.

Wisconsin's shocking home loss to Penn State ends the debate over whether the Badgers or Michigan State should be at No. 2 behind front-runner Ohio State. Although the Buckeyes and, to a lesser extent, the Spartans had some struggles Saturday, they found ways to win. The Badgers had their worst performance of the season, and it cost them a potential BCS at-large berth.

That doesn't take away from Penn State, which received big boosts from quarterback Christian Hackenberg and others.

Our big dilemma this week was what to do with the 6-8 spots. Penn State had by far its best showing of the season, and Michigan had its best showing in months, even in defeat, against archrival Ohio State. Nebraska didn't show up at home on Black Friday, however, the Huskers have road wins against both the Lions (six days before the Iowa clunker) and Michigan.

After some spirited debate, we ultimately went with body of work to determine the rundown, especially since these are the final regular-season rankings. We understand it devalues the Week 14 performances a bit.

Here's one last look at the Week 13 rankings.

Now for the new rundown, final regular-season version.

1. Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten: last week: 1): The Buckeyes lost their composure early and nearly lost their perfect season late. They were faced with adversity for the first time in six weeks, but they made enough plays on both sides of the ball to win. Running back Carlos Hyde (226 yards, one TD) and quarterback Braxton Miller (five total TDs) led a virtually unstoppable offense, which helped overcome some shoddy pass defense. The Buckeyes now await Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.

2. Michigan State (11-1, 8-0; last week: 3): There weren't many style points against Minnesota, but the Spartans came away with another double-digit Big Ten win. The defense kept Minnesota out of the end zone, as linebacker Denicos Allen led the way. Running back Jeremy Langford (134 rush yards, TD) had another big day as Michigan State moved closer to a BCS bowl berth, regardless of the result in Indianapolis.

3. Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2; last week: 2): It's only a one-spot drop for Wisconsin, but what a downer in Mad City. A team that had been so dominant since falling at Ohio State never showed up on Senior Day against a plucky Penn State team that took control from the onset. Quarterback Joel Stave threw three interceptions in the loss, and one of the Big Ten's better defenses allowed a slew of big plays as Penn State racked up 465 yards. It led to Wisconsin's most surprising home loss in recent memory.

4. Iowa (8-4, 5-3; last week: 4): Kirk Ferentz's crew entered the regular season as a popular pick to finish last in the Legends Division. The Hawkeyes emerged as one of the better teams not only in the division but the entire Big Ten. They've flipped their 2012 regular-season record behind a salty rush defense, led by an outstanding group of linebackers, and a functional offense. After two lackluster showings in the Heroes Game, Iowa outclassed Nebraska in Lincoln and should move up the bowl pecking order.

5. Minnesota (8-4, 4-4; last week: 5): It doesn't take a doctor at the Mayo Clinic to diagnose what's wrong with Minnesota. The Gophers' defense keeps them in every game, and Saturday's matchup at Michigan State proved to be no exception. But the offense simply can't score or consistently pass the football. Minnesota failed to reach double digits for the third time this season despite multiple opportunities in Spartans territory. It's still a great season for Jerry Kill's team, but there's a lot of work to do on offense before a bowl appearance.

6. Nebraska (8-4, 5-3; last week: 6): No one would dispute Bo Pelini that this has been a difficult season in Husker Country. No one would argue with Nebraska's ability to keep fighting. But when the same problems (namely turnovers) surface year after year, the bigger picture of the program becomes more depressing. The Huskers and their head coach self-destructed for much of the Iowa game and fell for the third time on their home field. Fortunately for Pelini, it didn't cost him his job, and he should get another chance to compete for an elusive league title in 2014.

7. Penn State (7-5, 4-4; last week: 8): The Lions had a better team in Bill O'Brien's first season, but they didn't have a better win than Saturday's stunning upset of Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. After losing their first three road games by a combined score of 131-48, Penn State dominated Wisconsin for much of the afternoon at a place where the Badgers rarely lose. Hackenberg ended his freshman season with a signature performance (339 pass yards, 4 TDs) as the offense repeatedly gashed Wisconsin. A much-maligned defense held the Badgers' run game in check as Penn State ended an up-and-down season on a very good note.

8. Michigan (7-5, 3-5; last week: 7): After plummeting to historic lows earlier in the month, Michigan's offense looked like a completely different unit against Ohio State. Quarterback Devin Gardner played brilliantly, coordinator Al Borges called a good game and several others -- Jeremy Gallon, Jake Butt and De'Veon Smith -- stepped up in a 603-yard effort. It wasn't enough, as Michigan fell by a point and the defense had no answers for Ohio State, but the Wolverines played their best game in months and can feel a bit better entering the postseason.

9. Indiana (5-7, 3-5; last week: 9): Oh, what might have been for Indiana. A team with such an explosive offense and eight home games should have made a bowl game, period, but the Hoosiers couldn't get it done. At least they reclaimed the Old Oaken Bucket as quarterback Tre Roberson (six TD passes, 273 pass yards, 154 rush yards) torched Purdue and received help from Stephen Houston, D'Angelo Roberts, Cody Latimer and others. It's clear the Hoosiers have to make upgrades on defense. They can't keep wasting such explosiveness on offense.

10. Northwestern (5-7, 1-7; last week: 11): A season to forget for Northwestern ended on a positive note, as Pat Fitzgerald's team avoided a winless Big Ten season and recorded another victory against its in-state rival. Quarterback Trevor Siemian enters the offseason with some confidence after passing for a career-high 414 yards and four touchdowns against Illinois. Wide receiver Christian Jones (13 catches, 182 yards, two TDs) also stepped up as Northwestern twice rallied from deficits against Illinois. Fitzgerald said afterward that Northwestern "will be back" in 2014. The work begins now.

11. Illinois (4-8, 1-7; last week 10): The wins total doubled from two to four, which is nothing to celebrate. But Illinois clearly improved in Year 2 under coach Tim Beckman, who should receive another season in Champaign. Illinois has fixed the offense, and while quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will be tough to replace, several playmakers like Josh Ferguson return. A bigger issue is the defense, which had no answer for Northwestern's passing attack on Saturday and surrendered more than 40 points and more than 500 yards per game in Big Ten play.

12. Purdue (1-11, 0-8; last week: 12): The optimist sees a dynamic young quarterback in Danny Etling, who finished his freshman season with 485 pass yards and four touchdowns against Indiana, and a team that can only get better. The pessimist sees a Purdue squad that was the worst in recent Big Ten history and has much work to do on both sides of the ball to become competitive in coach Darrell Hazell's second season. A big offseason awaits Hazell and his staff as they can't go through another season like this one.

Big Ten weekend rewind: Week 7

October, 15, 2012
Upon further review ...

Team of the week: Iowa. Well, look at who's tied atop the Legends Division standings. Many people had written off the Hawkeyes after they lost at home to Central Michigan (a team which has followed up that upset in Iowa City by losing to Northern Illinois, Toledo and Navy, all by double digits). But give credit to the resiliency of Kirk Ferentz's team. On Saturday, Iowa outslugged Michigan State on the road and won in double-overtime 19-16. It wasn't a pretty game, but the Hawkeyes showed toughness and grit. Don't count them out of the Big Ten race just yet.

Best game: Hope you stayed up late to catch Ohio State's 52-49 win over Indiana, the Big Ten's version of Big 12 football. There were blocked punts, onside kicks, a 15-point Indiana rally in the final minutes, 1,059 total yards and way more tension than we usually associate with Buckeyes-Hoosiers matchups. You might have liked Iowa-Michigan State more if you enjoy, you know, actual tackling. But this kind of game is fun every once in a while, too.

[+] EnlargeMontee Ball
Sandra Dukes/US PresswireBadgers RB Montee Ball had one of his best games of the season on Saturday against Purdue.
Biggest play: Let's go back to East Lansing and the second overtime period, when defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat deflected a pass from Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell, causing the ball to sail through receiver Keith Mumphery’s hands and into the waiting embrace of an Iowa cornerback. That was a fitting end to a game that was all about defense.

Best play: The play of the day in the Big Ten happened around midnight, when Indiana's Nick Stoner leaped out of bounds to grab an onside kick and toss it back into the field of play. Stoner showed off the athleticism that allows him to star on Indiana's track team. D’Angelo Roberts recovered, and the Hoosiers went in for a score and two-point conversion for the game's final margin. Indiana's final onside kick was also brilliantly executed and conceived, but Ohio State's Corey Brown made a game-saving catch as he was all alone on his side of the field.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Wisconsin's Montee Ball has had quite a career, so when he sets a career high, that's saying something. His 247 yards (on 29 carries) versus Purdue were a personal best. His three touchdowns also gave him 72 for his career, moving him past Ron Dayne as the Big Ten's all-time leading touchdown maker. He needs seven more to break the NCAA record. If he keeps playing like he did Saturday, he'll smash it.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): Michigan's Jake Ryan collected 11 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and a sack, and forced a fumble in the Wolverines' 45-0 annihilation of Illinois. We'd say he's playing like his hair is on fire, but his golden locks are so long it might take him a while to feel any follicular conflagration.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Iowa's Mike Meyer was 4-for-4 on field goals, including two in overtime and the 42-yard game winner against Michigan State. Meyer has made 14 out of 15 this year and has connected on his past 13 attempts. For a team that struggles to score, Meyer has been extra valuable.

Worst hangover: Michigan State. Adam and I are frantically going back through all our offseason blog posts and erasing the word "State" every time we picked Michigan State to win the Big Ten in 2012. At this point, the Spartans are not even guaranteed of making a bowl game, sitting at 4-3 with tough games left against Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northwestern, plus a trip to Minnesota. How'd we miss so bad on the Spartans? Neither of us thought their offense would be this dreadful. And while their defense has been very good, it has had to be heroic to carry the entire team, and that's asking too much every week. Michigan State has somehow lost three home games this year after it had won 15 in a row at Spartan Stadium. The Notre Dame and Ohio State losses were forgivable to a degree. Losing to an Iowa team that had only 257 total yards and one touchdown? Not so much.

Strangest moment: There are helmet-to-helmet hits, and then there are, apparently, shoulder-to-decal hits. That's what happened in Saturday's Northwestern-Minnesota game. Wildcats safety Ibraheim Campbell collided with Gophers tailback Donnell Kirkwood so solidly that most of the gold "M" on one side of Kirkwood's helmet came off on the play. Campbell got the worst of that hit, but Northwestern got the 21-13 road win.
Two quick updates on starting quarterbacks today in the Big Ten:
  • Dusty Kiel will make his first career start for Indiana against Penn State. Kiel led Indiana's comeback last week at North Texas, and has completed 11 of 18 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Ed Wright-Baker, who started the first four games for IU, hasn't played poorly. He reportedly suffered a knee injury this week in practice. Also, Indiana's top running back, D'Angelo Roberts, is out. Could be another tough day for IU.
  • Max Shortell is expected start for Minnesota, becoming the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for the Gophers since Rickey Foggie in 1984. He replaces MarQueis Gray, who started the first four games but has been battling a toe injury all week. Gray reportedly looked tentative in warm-ups, and coach Jerry Kill told the Big Ten Network: "It's going to be tough for him to play. We will not take a risk with him." Shortell has been on the field in some critical situations already this season, but making your first start as a freshman at the Big House has to be nerve-wracking.

Big Ten stock report: Week 4

September, 21, 2011
Stock it to me.

Stock up

Purdue's Akeems: First-year Boilermaker running backs Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt each had productive days against an overmatched Southeast Missouri State defense on Saturday. Shavers, a junior-college transfer who got the start, ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Head coach Danny Hope says Shavers has NFL-caliber numbers in his strength and speed testing. Hunt, a true freshman, added 56 yards and two more scores. He was a track star in high school and is one of the fastest players on the team. Along with Ralph Bolden, the two Akeems give Purdue a lot of options in the backfield.

[+] EnlargeD'Angelo Roberts
Michael Hickey/US PresswireDo the Hoosiers have another rising star in tailback D'Angelo Roberts?
D'Angelo Roberts: Granted, it came against South Carolina State. But Indiana may have found a future star in its freshman tailback, who ran for 102 yards -- all in the second half -- and a touchdown. He is the first Hoosier true freshman to run for 100 yards since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2003.

Iowa receivers: We knew about Marvin McNutt coming into this season but weren't sure about the rest of the Hawkeyes' wideouts. So far, though, Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley have developed into standout receivers in their own right. Davis had 10 catches for 129 yards last week against Pittsburgh, while Martin-Manley had a pair of touchdown grabs. They're a big reason why Iowa has the top passing offense in the Big Ten through three weeks.

MarQueis Gray: After he struggled in Week 1 at USC and freshman Max Shortell played well after he cramped up, Gray's grasp on the Minnesota quarterback job seemed shaky. But the former wide receiver had his best game in a win over Miami of Ohio on Saturday, throwing for 163 yards and running for 171. "I think he's going to grow from week to week to week," head coach Jerry Kill said.

Illinois' defense: All the preseason focus around Illinois focused on Nathan Scheelhaase and the high-scoring offense. But the defense has proved itself a force early in the season despite losing several key players from last season's team. The Illini rank seventh nationally in stopping the run, allowing just 63.7 yards per game on the ground and 2.1 yards per carry. They also rank 12th in the country with 11 sacks and 14th in the FBS in turnover margin.

Stock down

Penn State kickers: The Nittany Lions are just 1-of-6 so far on field goals, with Evan Lewis and Sam Ficken splitting duties so far. Penn State missed all three tries at Temple on Saturday, with one kick bouncing off a post. Add in a blocked punt last week, and the kicking game has been a kick in the pants so far for Joe Paterno.

Michigan's first quarters: Whether playing in the day or at night, the Wolverines need a while to get going. They've been outscored 21-0 in the first quarter this season and have trailed early in every single game. The good news? Michigan has outscored opponents 100-23 from the second quarter on so far.

Wisconsin penalties: Even Debbie Downer would have a hard time finding complaints about the Badgers' start. But how about those yellow flags? Wisconsin has drawn 18 penalties for an average of 49.3 penalty yards per game through its first three contest. While that's not terrible, it's nearly twice as many penalties per game as last season's team averaged; the 2010 Badgers were whistled for only 41 penalties in 13 games.

Iowa's third-down defense: The Hawkeyes' defense has been disappointing so far this season, and problems on third down are one part of those struggles. Opponents have converted exactly half of their 50 third-down plays against Iowa this season and have had to punt only 12 times in three games. One bright spot: the Hawkeyes got a pair of third-down stops in the fourth quarter of Saturday's comeback win over Pitt.

Ohio State's passing game: Not to pile on Joe Bauserman, but he has completed just 18 of his 44 pass attempts (41 percent) since opening strong against a bad Akron defense. Braxton Miller showed some flashes as a runner but also turned the ball over twice against Miami. Both guys should be holding clipboards for Terrelle Pryor, not starting. The receivers haven't helped, either, failing to record a single catch against the Hurricanes. It can't get any worse, though. We think.
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

It's shuffling time once again in the power rankings as two ranked Big Ten teams (Michigan State and Ohio State) suffered humbling losses Saturday. Wisconsin continues to look dominant, although the competition level will increase substantially in October. Nebraska is at the top as well, but surprisingly because of its offense more than its defense.

Illinois and Michigan State are rising, while the bottom half of the league remains more or less intact.

Let's get to it.

1. Wisconsin (3-0): The Badgers look like they can do some special things this season, as quarterback Russell Wilson is exceeding all expectations in the first three games. Northern Illinois could be a solid team, but Wisconsin totally outclassed the Huskies at Soldier Field. We'll learn a lot more about Bret Bielema's squad in October, but the early returns are good.

2. Nebraska (3-0): It's not the winning formula many of us envisioned for the Huskers, but they're finding a way to get things done. Nebraska ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring offense (44.3 ppg) and third in total offense (422 ypg). The Huskers have delivered strong second-half performances on offense the past two weeks. The defense, meanwhile, needs to tighten up significantly before the Oct. 1 trip to Wisconsin.

3. Illinois (3-0): Surprised to see the Illini here? They deserve it after a gutsy performance against Arizona State fueled by a pressuring defense. The schedule sets up extremely well for Ron Zook's crew, and if young defenders like linebacker Jonathan Brown continue to make strides, Illinois will be a contender in the Leaders Division.

4. Michigan (3-0): The 2011 Wolverines look a lot like previous versions, and time will tell if their formula for success will work against better Big Ten teams. The good news is the schedule sets up well for Michigan, which could be 6-0 when it visits in-state rival Michigan State on Oct. 15. Quarterback Denard Robinson remains extremely dangerous as a runner, but he'll have to make strides as a passer in league play.

5. Michigan State (2-1): Perhaps Michigan State caught Notre Dame at the wrong time, as the Fighting Irish shouldn't have started 0-2. On the flip side, a 31-13 loss exposed Michigan State's weakness along the offensive line. If the Spartans can't run the ball on the road, it'll be a long season. The encouraging thing is Michigan State only allowed 275 and boasts some nice pieces on defense.

6. Ohio State (2-1): Holy Buckeye, this isn't good. Week 6 can't come soon enough for Luke Fickell's squad, which needs any reinforcements it can get for an anemic offense that completed just four passes for 35 yards in Saturday night's loss to Miami. Ohio State's offensive staff needs some answers before a tough opening stretch to begin Big Ten play (Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois).

7. Penn State (2-1): The defense can carry this team at times, perhaps even to several Big Ten wins this fall. Penn State received huge performances from LB Michael Mauti, DE Sean Stanley and others against Temple. But the offensive struggles remain and it's hard to know where Penn State should go at the quarterback position as both Matthew McGloin and Rob Bolden have had their ups and downs.

8. Iowa (2-1): If Iowa ends up winning eight to 10 games, it will point to the comeback against Pitt as the turning point. QB James Vandenberg certainly grew up a bit in the fourth quarter. But Pitt has a penchant for falling apart, and Iowa still has a lot to address in the next two weeks. The receiver position could be a strength for the Hawkeyes as Keenan Davis looked very impressive Saturday.

9. Northwestern (2-1): The wait for Dan Persa likely is nearing an end, but Northwestern couldn't avoid a very humbling loss along the way. Northwestern's defense couldn't slow down Army, but the Wildcats would have won the game with greater consistency in the passing game. Persa's return should provide a confidence boost, but Northwestern remains too reliant on its quarterback play.

10. Purdue (2-1): After sweating out the first two games, the Boilers got a breather against FCS Southeast Missouri State and flexed their muscles on offense. Quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve combined to complete 21 of 25 pass attempts, and Akeem Shavers rushed for two touchdowns while the defense posted its first shutout since 2004. Purdue now has an open week before hosting Notre Dame.

11. Minnesota (1-2): MarQueis Gray had a historic day at quarterback as Minnesota gave Jerry Kill his first win as its coach. The Gophers also got a boost on special teams with a punt block returned for a touchdown. Pass defense remains a significant concern as Minnesota is surrendering more than 300 yards per game through the air.

12. Indiana (1-2): Like Minnesota, Indiana also got in the victories column for the first time Saturday. And like the Gophers, the Hoosiers received a big performance from a quarterback as sophomore Ed Wright-Baker completed 21 of 27 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. D'Angelo Roberts sparked the rushing attack 102 yards and a touchdown. Indiana now must show it can win on the road as it visits North Texas.
Kevin Wilson has his first win as a Big Ten head coach, and Indiana finally is in the victory column.

Let's take a quick look.

Indiana 38, South Carolina State 21: After Indiana surged to a comfortable halftime lead, things got a bit interesting in the second half. But Ed Wright-Baker wasn’t going to let this one slip away. The Hoosiers' sophomore quarterback tossed a 40-yard scoring pass to Kofi Hughes in the fourth quarter to seal the team’s first win of the season. Wright-Baker, whose late fumble led to last week’s heart-breaking loss to Virginia, responded today with 273 pass yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 27 passing. Duwyce Wilson (6 catches, 101 yards, TD) had a very nice performance on the perimeter. Perhaps more encouraging, Indiana's run attack showed some signs of life as D'Angelo Roberts racked up 102 rush yards and a touchdown. The defense still needs work, but the offense has to feel a bit more confident coming out of this one.

Indiana recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011

The class

Recruits: 21 (all high school seniors, one player enrolled early)

Top prospects: Indiana is bringing in several exciting offensive skill players, including Shane Wynn, a wide receiver rated as the nation's No. 41 athlete by ESPN Recruiting. The Hoosiers also bolstered their backfield with quarterback Tre Roberson and running back D'Angelo Roberts, rated as the nation's No. 46 running back. Zack Shaw is a promising player at the linebacker spot.

Needs met: The Hoosiers need more competition in the secondary and helped their cause with five defensive backs (three cornerbacks, two safeties) in this class. Although none of the players are highly rated, a guy like safety Mark Murphy could help early in his career. It also was important for new coach Kevin Wilson to keep Roberson on board. Whether or not Roberson ultimately plays quarterback in Wilson's system, he'll be an asset to the IU offense.

Analysis: Wilson came aboard only in December and since then has endured some fluctuation on his coaching staff, but Indiana still kept most of the key committed players on board. Players like Wynn, Roberson and Roberts should help immediately on offense, but Indiana has to build depth on defense and that process likely will take some time. Expect to see more of Wilson's touch on next year's class, but there are some guys coming in now who can help IU.

ESPN Recruiting grade: C-
Indiana coach Bill Lynch remembers eleventh-hour recruiting.

Until recent years, he found himself right in the thick of it.

For decades, Lynch anticipated his schedule in late January and early February to be consumed with finding high school players to fill the final few spots of a recruiting class. It was standard procedure during his tenure as Ball State's coach from 1995-2002. The down-to-the-wire scramble continued when Lynch arrived at Indiana in January 2005, and remained for several years as the program made another transition from Terry Hoeppener to Lynch.

"Shoot, man, we were looking for guys the weekend before signing day," Lynch recalled. "We were scrambling to fill a class."

[+] EnlargeLynch
Maxwell KrugerBill Lynch has already collected 20 verbal commitments for the 2011 class.
Of the 24 players Indiana signed in 2005, 14 committed in January or early February and another didn't sign until after National Signing Day. Things improved for the 2006 class, but Indiana still got seven commitments after Jan. 1, plus a junior college addition in June.

Back then, the idea of wrapping up a recruiting class in July or August sounded laughable.

Fast-forward to last week, as Lynch talked about where Indiana stood for its 2011 recruiting haul.

"We're right at the end," he said.

The calendar read July 15.

Indiana has turned heads in Midwest recruiting circles by already collecting 20 verbal commitments for the 2011 class. The Hoosiers' total leads the Big Ten and ranks among the national leaders. Indiana has 17 more commits than Penn State and 14 more than archrival Purdue.

Although the class likely won't rank among the national leaders come February, Lynch and his staff have unquestionably upgraded their overall talent, landing decorated prospects like linebacker Zack Shaw, athlete Raymon Taylor, tight end Jake Reed and running back D'Angelo Roberts, who pledged last week.

"We've been fortunate to kind of jump ahead," Lynch said, "but throughout the process, we felt like there were kids we had targeted who we felt like we could get. We felt like we could get a good number."

(Read full post)