NCF Nation: Devin Barclay

Let's take a look back at Week 12 before looking ahead to rivalry week.

Team(s) of the Week: Wisconsin and Illinois. Both teams get the nod for different reasons. The Badgers overcame their Michigan misery and won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1994. After Wisconsin's red-hot offense surged out to a 24-0 lead, the Badgers survived a mini scare in the third quarter before steamrolling Michigan with 28 consecutive designed run plays. Running backs James White and Montee Ball combined for 354 rush yards and six touchdowns in the win. Speaking of the ground game, no back in America had a bigger day than Illinois' Mikel Leshoure, who racked up a team-record 330 rushing yards against Northwestern. Behind Leshoure's brilliance, Illinois piled up 519 rush yards and claimed a must-win game against Northwestern at Wrigley Field to become bowl eligible.

[+] EnlargeOhio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor
Reese Strickland/US PresswireOhio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor overcame a pair of interceptions to lead the Buckeyes to a win.
Game of the Week: Ohio State at Iowa. The game featured three lead changes and an exciting fourth quarter defined by big plays on both sides of the ball. Both defenses came to play, and only one touchdown was scored in the first half. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor overcame two interceptions to lead a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives. After Buckeyes receiver DeVier Posey dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the end zone with the Buckeyes down 17-13, Pryor saved the day with a 14-yard scramble on fourth-and-10. Ohio State scored the go-ahead touchdown moments later and its defensive line stepped up down the stretch. Iowa's season of heartbreak continued, while Ohio State kept its streak of Big Ten titles intact.

Biggest play: Three immediately come to mind. Pryor's scramble on fourth-and-10 likely saved Ohio State's season. Michigan State's Denicos Allen blocked a Purdue punt late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning touchdown as the Spartans rallied from a 28-13 deficit. And Penn State's Andrew Dailey and James Van Fleet teamed up for a punt block and a touchdown return that broke a 24-24 tie against Indiana at FedEx Field.

Specialist spotlight: The two punt blocks by Michigan State and Penn State loomed large in both teams' victories. Michigan State punter Aaron Bates had another big game, averaging 43.4 yards per punt and placing three inside the Purdue 20-yard line. After not attempting a punt the week before against Indiana, Wisconsin's Brad Nortman made the most out of his only chance against Michigan, pinning the Wolverines at their 1-yard line. Ohio State's Devin Barclay kicked a clutch field goal against Iowa for the second straight year, this time a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter. Both punters looked comfortable at Wrigley, as Illinois' Anthony Santella averaged 53.5 yards per punt and Northwestern's Brandon Williams had a 45.2-yard average. Northwestern's Venric Mark had a 58-yard punt return that set up a Wildcats touchdown against Illinois.

Best sign: The Big Ten's last-minute decision to primarily use one end zone at Wrigley Field became the top story in college football heading into Saturday. But just in case players from Northwestern and Illinois didn't hear about the rule changes, a fan sitting behind the dreaded East end zone provided a reminder. He held up a sign that read: "Wrong Way!" Nice.

Game balls (given to players on winning or losing teams who didn't receive helmet stickers)

  • Penn State QB Matt McGloin: The sophomore racked up a career-high 315 pass yards and two touchdowns against Indiana, completing 22 of 31 attempts in the win. His 315 pass yards tie for the 10th most in team history.
  • Illinois LB Martez Wilson: The Chicago native sparkled in his hometown Saturday, recording three tackles for loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble in the win against Northwestern.
  • Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien: He completed his first 13 pass attempts against Michigan and showed good toughness, absorbing several hits before releasing the ball. Tolzien finished the game 14-for-15 for 201 yards and an interception.
  • [+] EnlargePenn State quarterback Matt McGloin
    AP Photo/Nick WassPenn State quarterback Matt McGloin had a career day in a win over Indiana.
    Michigan State WR Mark Dell: Dell made Senior Day a memorable one by recording eight receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Purdue. The senior receiver hauled in scoring passes of 24 yards and nine yards to match a career high for touchdowns.
  • Michigan QB Denard Robinson: He started slowly against Wisconsin but came on strong in the second half. Robinson racked up 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, breaking the FBS single-season record for quarterback rushing. He also had 239 pass yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
  • Purdue CB Ricardo Allen: Any postseason awards list of top freshmen should include Allen, who recorded his second pick-six in as many weeks against Michigan State. He tied Mike Rose's single-season record for interceptions returned for touchdowns. Allen now leads Purdue with three interceptions this season.
  • Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins: The junior played through pain and overcame an early miscue to record four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) and 276 pass yards. Cousins completed passes to 10 different receivers in the come-from-behind win against Purdue.
  • Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor: It's not how you start in football, and Pryor finished extremely strong against Iowa. He led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, racked up 78 rush yards against a stout Iowa defense and passed for 195 yards.
  • Indiana WR Tandon Doss: The dynamic junior led Indiana in both receiving yards (90) and rushing yards (61) against Penn State. Doss had seven receptions and five rushes on the day. He also shined as a return man and finished the game with 293 all-purpose yards, tied for the seventh-best effort in team history.

Now let's look ahead to rivalry week.

Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1): If the Buckeyes win, they will tie a Big Ten record with their sixth consecutive league title (won or shared). They also aim for their seventh consecutive win against their archrival. Michigan can spoil it all for Ohio State and take the heat off of third-year coach Rich Rodriguez, but a Wolverines win would qualify as a major upset. Pryor takes aim at a Wolverines defense that ranks 99th nationally in points allowed (33.6 ppg).

No. 10 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) at Penn State (7-4, 4-3): A special season for the Spartans comes down to this, the biggest game in recent team history. Michigan State can record a team record for wins if it beats Penn State, and a victory ensures the Spartans of at least a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1990. McGloin and the Nittany Lions look to spoil the party and end the regular season with wins in five of their final six games.

Indiana (4-7, 0-7) at Purdue (4-7, 2-5): For the second straight year, the Bucket game will be played with just pride and bragging rights on the line. Neither Indiana nor Purdue will be going bowling this season, but both teams want to end 2010 on a good note. It could be a pivotal game for Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch, who has recorded just two Big Ten wins since his Hoosiers beat Purdue in 2007 to clinch a bowl berth.

No. 24 Iowa (7-4, 4-3) at Minnesota (2-9, 1-6): Iowa has shut out Minnesota in each of the last two seasons, and the Hawkeyes will come in angry after dropping back-to-back games. The Golden Gophers, meanwhile, come off of an open week after an uplifting win against Illinois and look for their first home victory of the season. It'll be the last game for quarterback Adam Weber, the other Minnesota seniors and probably most of the coaching staff. Iowa has won eight of the teams' last nine meetings.

Northwestern (7-4, 3-4) at Wisconsin (10-1, 6-1): The Badgers are playing for a share of their first Big Ten title since 1999 and most likely their first Rose Bowl appearance since that year. Barring an Ohio State loss, a Badgers win likely punches their ticket to Pasadena. Wisconsin's offense has been sensational as of late, and starting running back John Clay should be back in the fold. It likely spells bad news for Northwestern, which had no answer for Illinois' rushing attack at Wrigley.

Bye: Illinois (6-5, 4-4)
MADISON, Wis. -- Down 21-3 against a power-run, clock-killing team like Wisconsin, Ohio State's best chance for a comeback rested with takeaways.

Good thing, too, because Ohio State has one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country. The Buckeyes showed it as linebacker Andrew Sweat picked off a Scott Tolzien pass and returned the ball inside Wisconsin territory. A terrible late hit call on Wisconsin -- Sweat merely tripped over his teammates near the Ohio State sideline -- had Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes sitting pretty, first-and-10 at the Wisconsin 23.

And once again, Ohio State couldn't capitalize. It needed a touchdown and instead came away with nothing after a Devin Barclay missed field goal. Wisconsin continues to dominate the line of scrimmage, as J.J. Watt had a huge sack of Pryor on third-and-9.

Wisconsin still leads 21-3 with 2:53 left in the half. And if Tolzien can limit his mistakes, the Badgers will be in excellent shape to win this game.

Big Ten Week 2 rewind/Week 3 preview

September, 13, 2010
9/13/10
2:05
PM ET
Let's look back at Week 2 before looking ahead to Saturday's completely full slate (11 games) of Big Ten action.

[+] EnlargeRicky Stanzi
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallRicky Stanzi and the Hawkeyes had their way with Iowa State on Saturday.
Team of the week: Iowa. Ohio State and Michigan drew more national attention, as usual, but Iowa delivered the most impressive performance of the day. The Hawkeyes annihilated in-state rival Iowa State, storming out to a 35-0 lead behind Adam Robinson and Ricky Stanzi. Iowa State supposedly had improved since last year's meeting, but the Hawkeyes once again victimized quarterback Austen Arnaud for three interceptions. After walking the tightrope every week in 2009, Iowa isn't letting inferior teams hang around. It'll be interesting to see how the Hawkeyes perform Saturday at Arizona.

Best game: Michigan at Notre Dame. For the second consecutive season, the Wolverines and Irish provided plenty of drama. And once again, a young quarterback became the hero for the Maize and Blue. Denard Robinson's brilliance helped Michigan overcome a late defensive breakdown and rally for a 28-24 victory in South Bend. The game featured plenty of plot twists, as Notre Dame jumped ahead early, lost quarterback Dayne Crist to injury, got him back and took the lead before falling. Just great theater in one of college football's great cathedrals.

Biggest play: Going with three of them this week. Robinson set a Notre Dame Stadium record with his 87-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, a beautiful display of pure speed. And who doesn't like to see a defensive lineman rumble? That's exactly what Ohio State's Cameron Heyward did on an 80-yard interception return against Miami early in the third quarter with the game still very much in doubt. Purdue running back Al-Terek McBurse also deserves props for keeping his balance while rolling over a Western Illinois defender and then scooting into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown run.

Specialist spotlight: Michigan State entered the season with major questions at the kicker spot after losing standout Brett Swenson. Dan Conroy eased the concern Saturday against Florida Atlantic, converting field goal attempts of 50, 44 and 41 yards. Conroy is 4-for-4 on field goals for the season. Ohio State kicker Devin Barclay tied a team record with five field goals before missing his sixth attempt. "It was the first time I've ever been in a game where the kicker cramped up," Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said afterward.

Game balls (given to players from winning teams not selected for helmet stickers):

  • Northwestern QB Dan Persa: Robinson and Terrelle Pryor get all the pub, but Persa is leading the nation in pass efficiency with an amazing rating of 212.06. He has completed 86.4 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no picks. It's still early, but Persa is answering NU's biggest question mark entering the fall.
  • Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan: Kerrigan is continuing his dominant play from 2009 and recorded four tackles for loss with a sack and a forced fumble against Western Illinois. He leads the league in both tackles for loss (6.5) and forced fumbles (2), and ranks fifth in tackles (19).
  • Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure: Another player who has carried over his success from last fall, Leshoure racked up 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries against Southern Illinois. Imagine what he'll do if he ever gets a full carries load.
  • Michigan State WR/KR/PR Keshawn Martin: Martin showed against Florida Atlantic why he can be so dangerous for the Spartans this year. He had a 42-yard reception, a 46-yard kickoff return and a 47-yard punt return. He finished with a game-high 204 all-purpose yards.
  • Michigan WR Roy Roundtree: Labeled as doubtful last Monday after taking a huge shot against UConn, Roundtree not only played against Notre Dame but led Michigan with eight receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown. Plus, he took another big hit in the game. Gutsy performance.
  • Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Watt is performing like an All-Big Ten player so far this season, and he came up big against San Jose State with 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a blocked field goal attempt.
  • Purdue RB Dan Dierking: Dierking eased some concerns about the Boilers' run game with 14 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns against Western Illinois. He broke career bests for rushes, rushing yardage and touchdowns for the second straight game.
How bizarre: The entire Miami-Ohio State game fits into this category. Ohio State allowed a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history. Miami's Jacory Harris threw four interceptions and still had a chance in the second half. Pryor completed just 12 of 27 passes but still put up great yardage totals for both passing (233) and rushing (113). Just a very weird game at The Shoe, but the Buckeyes will take the W.

Now, let's take a quick look at the Week 2 slate ...

Massachusetts (2-0) at Michigan (2-0): What will Robinson do next? Tune in for the first half, as he might not be around for much of this one. The real subplot should be how Michigan uses backup quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Tate Forcier.

Ohio (1-1) at Ohio State (2-0): Frank Solich's Bobcats gave the Buckeyes a real scare two years ago, but Ohio is coming off of a home loss to Toledo. Can't see Ohio State letting Ohio hang around very long.

Kent State (1-1) at Penn State (1-1): The Lions should finally be able to get Evan Royster and the run game going, right? One problem: Kent State leads the nation in rush defense, allowing just 11 yards per game.

Northern Illinois (1-1) at Illinois (1-1): The Illini looked great against Southern Illinois and try to continue maintain their unbeaten record (12-0) against public schools from the state. NIU coach Jerry Kill could miss the game after being hospitalized Sunday.

Ball State (1-1) at Purdue (1-1): Life without star wide receiver Keith Smith begins for the Boilers, who still are looking for more consistency on both sides of the ball. Can Dierking nail down Purdue's top running back spot?

USC (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1): These are the big-ticket games Tim Brewster wants to play at Minnesota, but the heat is rising on the fourth-year coach after an embarrassing loss to South Dakota. USC's Matt Barkley takes aim at a Gophers' secondary that made South Dakota's Dante Warren look like superman.

Arizona State (2-0) at Wisconsin (2-0): Steven Threet sparked Wisconsin's downward spiral in 2008 after leading Michigan to a historic come-from-behind win at the Big House. Now Threet leads the Sun Devils into Madison looking for an upset.

Indiana (1-0) at Western Kentucky (0-2): Remember the Hoosiers? It feels like months since they last played. All-Big Ten wideout Tandon Doss is expected to make his season debut as Indiana hits the road for the first time.

Northwestern (2-0) at Rice (1-1): The Michigan-Big Ten reunion continues as former Wolverines running back Sam McGuffie faces Northwestern. This could be a tricky game for the Wildcats, but if Persa continues to perform like he has, they should be fine.

Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0): We should learn a lot more about the Spartans in this prime-time affair, as Notre Dame should test a secondary that struggled mightily in 2009. Linebacker Greg Jones and the Michigan State seniors try to go 3-1 against the Irish.

Iowa (2-0) at Arizona (2-0): Stay up late for this one, people. Both teams have looked dominant so far, and Iowa will have to adjust to the elements in the desert. Nick Foles and the Arizona offense will test Adrian Clayborn & Co., but Arizona also must contend with an Iowa offense that looks very strong so far.
Best call:

How bizarre: The entire Miami-Ohio State game fits into this category. Ohio State allowed a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history. Miami's Jacory Harris threw four interceptions and still had a chance in the second half. Terrelle Pryor completed just 12 of 27 passes but still put up great yardage totals for both passing (233) and rushing (113). Just a very weird game at The Shoe, but the Buckeyes will take the W.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's defense had done a masterful job of forcing turnovers, but the Buckeyes really needed a simple stop, and they got one.

Miami's offense has looked very good since halftime, and the Hurricanes had a glimmer of hope following Devin Barclay's missed field goal. But after allowing the Canes to cross midfield, the Buckeyes forced a turnover on downs and regained control.

Ohio State always has had a bend-but-don't-break defense, and today's performance is truly emblematic of how it plays. Miami has made plays here and there, but the Buckeyes keep coming up big in their own end of the field.

Terrelle Pryor just rushed for a big first down, and Ohio State is in command, up 36-24 with about five minutes left.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Everything is clicking right now for Ohio State, even the special teams.

On a day when the Buckeyes allowed a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown in the same game for the first time in team history, they're finally cleaning things up in the all-important third phase. A blocked field-goal attempt by Devon Torrence negated a Miami drive, and Ohio State tacked on another Devin Barclay field goal.

Barclay has been a bright spot on special teams so far this year after entering camp with questions about his accuracy. He's 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts Saturday, tying a team record.

More good news for the Buckeyes, as star D-lineman Cameron Heyward is back on the field after a right leg problem.

Miami actually has looked good on offense this half, but the Canes have nothing to show for it. When Jacory Harris isn't throwing interceptions, his receivers are letting him down or his linemen are committing penalties. Just too many mistakes to beat the nation's No. 2 team on the road.

Ohio State leads 36-17 late in the third quarter.
The position rankings finish with the special-teams units. For this list, I examine kickers, punters, return men and coverage units and look at each team's overall picture in the all-important third phase. The Big Ten loses several elite specialists, including punter Zoltan Mesko and kicker Brett Swenson. It's a little odd not to see Ohio State near the top, but if there's a hole on Jim Tressel's team this year, it might be on special teams.

Here are my top five:

[+] EnlargeDerrell Johnson-Koulianos
Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMIDerrell Johnson-Koulianos ranked second in the Big Ten in kick return average (31.5 ypr) in 2009.
1. Iowa: The Hawkeyes boast one of the league's top punters in Ryan Donahue, who has averaged more than 40 yards per punt in each of his first three seasons. Iowa also brings back Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who ranked second in the Big Ten in kick return average (31.5 ypr) in 2009. There's competition at kicker (big surprise), but Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker both boast experience. Colin Sandeman quietly ranked second in the league in punt return average last year.

2. Michigan State: Swenson is undoubtedly a major loss, but Michigan State should improve in the other phases of special teams. Punter Aaron Bates was extremely solid in 2009, averaging 41.6 yards despite a league-high 63 attempts. Look out for Keshawn Martin, who averaged 28.9 yards on kick returns last fall. Martin could be the league's top return man by season's end. The Spartans need to upgrade their kickoff coverage unit.

3. Ohio State: Despite question marks at both specialist spots, Ohio State's history as an elite special-teams squad under Tressel can't be overlooked. Hopes are high for Ben Buchanan at punter, and Devin Barclay has a very big kick on his résumé against Iowa last year. The Buckeyes must replace return man Ray Small, but there's enough talent there. The coverage teams are always good in Columbus.

4. Minnesota: The Gophers' strengths are their return teams, led by Troy Stoudermire and Bryant Allen. Minnesota led the Big Ten in punt return average, although it had only nine runbacks all year, and finished fifth in kick return average. Eric Ellestad was perfect on PATs and had a decent year on field goals. The Gophers need Dan Orseske to step in at punter for Blake Haudan.

5. Wisconsin: There are some concerns about the Badgers' special-teams units, but everyone is back and should be better. Punter Brad Nortman averaged 42 yards per punt last year, and while kicker Philip Welch took a mini step back, he still booted 17 field goals. David Gilreath is one of the league's most experienced return men, and linebacker Chris Borland proved to be a difference-maker on special teams last year.

More rankings ...

By most measures, Joe Bauserman qualifies as a veteran.

You can start with his birth certificate. It reads Oct. 4, 1985. That means he'll turn 25 years old two days after Ohio State visits Illinois this season.

[+] EnlargeBauserman
D. Jay Talbott/Icon SMIOhio State quarterback Joe Bauserman doesn't complain about being Terrelle Pryor's back-up.
Bauserman also is no stranger to high-level athletic competition. Aside from Ohio State teammate Devin Barclay, a 27-year-old former Major League Soccer player, no Buckeye has had a more extensive athletic career.

Bauserman was part of Ohio State's 2004 recruiting class but delayed his arrival to play minor league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. A fourth-round draft pick by the Pirates, Bauserman pitched three years in the minors, compiling a 14-12 record with a 3.42 ERA. He finally joined the Ohio State football program as a walk-on in 2007.

About the only place where Bauserman can't be called an old hand is the football game field. He has only 25 pass attempts in two seasons as Terrelle Pryor's backup, racking up 146 pass yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

"It's hard when you're the backup," quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said.

Pryor is as entrenched as any quarterback in the country, having started 22 of Ohio State's last 23 games. Other signal callers like Antonio Henton and Rob Schoenhoft left Columbus after Pryor signed, sensing the inevitable, but Bauserman has stuck around.

"Joe’s been in a tough position ever since Terrelle got here," Siciliano said. "From a maturity standpoint, I don't think you can be any better than he has. He hasn’t whined, he hasn’t complained, he’s been a total team guy.

"He loves to compete, and that’s why Joe has a chance."

Bauserman's right arm gives him that chance. He's not the runner that Pryor and fellow reserve Kenny Guiton are, but the former pitcher can sling the football.

Siciliano stopped short of proclaiming Bauserman has the strongest arm on the team, saying, "If I say yes, Terrelle might get offended, so I’ll leave that one." But the coach added, "Joe’s ball gets up to speed as fast as it can and comes out really easily. He can chuck the thing with the best of 'em."

The 6-1, 233-pound Bauserman spent the spring working on his decision-making and his footwork, trying to get his drops in sync with the receivers' routes. Like the other quarterbacks, Bauserman struggled in the team's jersey scrimmage, completing 4 of 13 passes with an interception, though he did connect on passes of 32 and 25 yards.

Bauserman's woes continued in the spring game, as he completed 6 of 15 passes with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Guiton, who Siciliano praised for being quick to absorb information and instructions, turned heads by tossing two touchdown passes.

Pryor is Ohio State's clear starter, but Bauserman is being challenged for the No. 2 job.

“I would say it’s Joe 2 and Kenny 3 with Kenny pushing the gap a little bit," Siciliano said.

Many think an injury to Pryor would torpedo Ohio State's national title hopes, but Siciliano has faith in the men behind him.

"I don’t think I’d bat an eye because the other 10 guys around [the new quarterback] in the huddle would step up their game," Siciliano said. "Don’t get me wrong, there’d be some level of difficulty with Terrelle leaving the game. Our mind-set’s got to change a little bit, but I’ve got the utmost confidence that those guys would do a great job."
The Big Ten gave us plenty to remember in 2009, and here are 10 moments that stood out to me.

[+] EnlargeMarvin McNutt
AP Photo/Al GoldisMarvin McNutt's TD reception as time expired gave the Hawkeyes the win over Michigan State.
Stanzi to McNutt with 0:00 on the clock: Iowa's perfect record was on the line as the Hawkeyes offense lined up for one final play, trailing Michigan State 13-9 with two seconds left in an Oct. 24 game at Spartan Stadium. On fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, quarterback Ricky Stanzi found wide receiver Marvin McNutt in the end zone for the win as Iowa improved to 8-0.

Barclay kick comes up roses: The pseudo Big Ten championship between Ohio State and Iowa went to overtime before Buckeyes backup kicker Devin Barclay, a 26-year-old former Major League Soccer player, drilled a 39-yard field goal for a 27-24 win. Barclay's kick gave Ohio State the outright Big Ten title and its first berth in the Rose Bowl in 13 years.

Expansion on the table: Arguably the Big Ten's biggest news story of 2009 didn't take place on the field, but in a meeting of league presidents and athletics directors in early December. The suits agreed to put league expansion on the front burner and explore the possibility of adding a new member or members. Though the Big Ten typically explores expansion every five years, the league's decision to go public about it is significant.

Decker gets decked but hangs on: Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker made a national name for himself against Cal, and one play stands out. Early in the second quarter, Decker caught a 26-yard touchdown pass and held on despite taking a vicious shot from Bears safety Sean Cattouse. He needed stitches in his chin but didn't miss a play and caught another touchdown just before halftime.

Rodriguez on the defensive: After allegations of NCAA rule violations rocked Michigan a week before the season, an emotional Rich Rodriguez defended his compliance record and his approach with players at a Sept. 1 news conference. "We know the rules," Rodriguez said, "and we follow the rules." The NCAA launched an investigation into the allegations that has yet to conclude.

Bowl bliss for the Big Ten: OK, so this isn't one moment, but four of them. Two took place in Orlando, one in Miami and one in Pasadena. They marked four bowl victories for Big Ten teams, all against top-15 opponents. These moments signified that the Big Ten hadn't fallen as far as many believed, and that the league will be a major player in the national title race in 2010.

Wootton sacks Stanzi: It's rare when one play has as strong of an impact on two teams' seasons as Corey Wootton's sack of Stanzi did in a Nov. 7 game at Kinnick Stadium. It resulted in a Northwestern touchdown as the Wildcats went on to upset Iowa and go 3-0 in November to reach a New Year's Day bowl. Stanzi suffered a severe ankle sprain and missed the rest of the regular season, as Iowa saw its hopes for a perfect season and the Big Ten title disappear.

Fearless Forcier rallies Michigan past Irish: The Michigan-Notre Dame game turned out to be an entertaining matchup between two very mediocre teams, but it also put Tate Forcier on the national radar. Forcier led the game-winning drive in the final minutes and found Greg Mathews in the end zone with 11 seconds left. The freshman accounted for three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) and 310 total yards.

Illini season ends with a thud: Illinois would like to forget the 2009 season, but it's easy to remember how the miserable campaign ended for Ron Zook's squad. Illinois led 52-51 as Fresno State went for a two-point conversion and the win. Ryan Colburn's desperation pass deflected to Devan Cunningham, a 350-pound offensive tackle, who rumbled into the end zone to give Fresno a 53-52 win.

Penn State punt team gets punk'd: At a rain-soaked Beaver Stadium, Penn State led Iowa 10-5 early in the fourth quarter when Hawkeyes defensive end Adrian Clayborn trucked Nick Sukay, blocked Jeremy Boone's punt and raced 53 yards to the end zone. The play turned around the game, launched Iowa's magical run and handed Penn State a painful loss.

Big Ten all-bowl team

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
11:00
AM ET
A strong Big Ten bowl season leaves me with some tough choices for the All-Bowl team. We can certainly debate some of these, but here are my selections.

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeTerrelle Pryor
Harry How/Getty ImagesTerrelle Pryor acccounted for more Rose Bowl yards than Oregon's team did.
QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
He came of age in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, delivering a complete performance as both a passer and a runner. Pryor accounted for 338 total yards; Oregon had 260.

RB John Clay, Wisconsin
Clay gave Miami a taste of Big Ten football by bulldozing the Hurricanes for 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in the Champs Sports Bowl.

RB Brandon Wegher, Iowa
It seemed like no running back could stay healthy for Iowa this year, but Wegher came up huge in the FedEx Orange Bowl. The true freshman had 113 rush yards on 16 carries, including the clinching 32-yard touchdown run with 1:16 left.

WR DeVier Posey, Ohio State
I saw a future NFL receiver when I watched Posey in the Rose Bowl. He had eight receptions for 101 yards, including a leaping 17-yard touchdown that all but sealed Ohio State's victory.

WR Andrew Brewer, Northwestern
Brewer saved his best game for last, hauling in eight receptions for 133 yards and scoring on receptions of 35 and 39 yards in the Outback Bowl.

TE Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern and Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin
Dunsmore had nine receptions for 120 yards, including an electrifying 66-yard touchdown dash through the Auburn defense. Garrett Graham might be the first-team All-Big Ten selection, but Kendricks stole the show in the Champs Sports Bowl with seven receptions for 128 yards.

C John Moffitt, Wisconsin
Moffitt moved back to center because of a teammate's injury and helped the Badgers overpower Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. Wisconsin racked up 430 total yards and held the ball for 39:15.

G Justin Boren, Ohio State
Boren led a big and nasty Buckeyes line that generated push for the run game and helped Pryor attempt a career high 37 passes in the win against Oregon.

G Joel Foreman, Michigan State
The Spartans' offensive line stepped up nicely in the Valero Alamo Bowl, helping to generate 148 rush yards and allowing only one sack against a Texas Tech team that rushes the passer extremely well. Foreman, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, deserves some props.

OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Bulaga showed why he's jumping to the NFL draft with a terrific performance against Georgia Tech star defensive end Derrick Morgan in the FedEx Orange Bowl.

OT Dennis Landolt, Penn State
Landolt and his linemates did a good job against LSU's blitz and protected Daryll Clark on a muddy field in Orlando. Penn State allowed only one sack and rushed for 124 yards.

DEFENSE

DL Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Clayborn was an absolute beast in the Orange Bowl, recording nine tackles (all solo) and two sacks as he disrupted Georgia Tech's triple option attack.

DL J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Watt led an aggressive Badgers defensive front with a sack, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery against Miami.

DL O'Brien Schofield, Wisconsin
Schofield was disruptive all season and showed it in the bowl game, recording two sacks and forcing a fumble that led to a crucial field goal in the fourth quarter.

DL Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State
The Buckeyes defensive front made life miserable for Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, and Gibson stepped up with two tackles for loss in what proved to be his final collegiate game.

LB Navorro Bowman, Penn State
Bowman had a game-high nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and forced LSU into a critical penalty in the final minute as the Lions preserved a Capital One Bowl win.

LB Ross Homan, Ohio State
Homan ended the season as one of the Big Ten's top linebackers and turned in a terrific performance in Pasadena with 12 tackles and an interception that set up a field goal just before halftime.

LB Pat Angerer, Iowa
The triple option will test a middle linebacker, but Angerer stepped up for Iowa with a game-high 10 tackles, including one for loss, against Georgia Tech.

DB Kyle Theret, Minnesota
Theret was the Gophers' MVP in the Insight Bowl, recording seven tackles (all solo), two interceptions, a tackle for loss and a 40-yard reception on a fake punt that set up the team's first touchdown.

DB Ross Weaver, Michigan State
The Spartans' secondary struggled against Texas Tech, but Weaver recorded a team-high seven solo tackles and had a forced fumble and an interception that led to 10 Michigan State points in the second half.

DB Kim Royston, Minnesota
Royston recorded a career-high 15 tackles, tying the Insight Bowl record, including 14 solo stops against Iowa State. He also forced a fumble that turned into a Minnesota field goal.

DB Sherrick McManis, Northwestern
McManis made plays throughout his career and finished it in typical fashion with an interception and a fumble recovery, both occurring in Northwestern's end of the field.

SPECIALISTS

K Collin Wagner, Penn State
The horrible field conditions didn't bother Wagner, who went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts and drilled the game winner with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

P Blake Haudan, Minnesota
Haudan averaged 49.6 yards on five punts and completed a 40-yard pass to Theret on a well-timed fake in the third quarter.

Returner Keshawn Martin, Michigan State
Martin blossomed as the Big Ten's most dangerous kick return man this fall and averaged 24.8 yards per runback with a long of 36 against Texas Tech.

Honorable mention -- WISCONSIN: QB Scott Tolzien, RB Montee Ball, P Brad Nortman, LB Chris Borland, TE Garrett Graham, starting offensive line. MINNESOTA: WR Da'Jon McKnight, LB Lee Campbell. NORTHWESTERN: QB Mike Kafka, WR Zeke Markshausen, WR Sidney Stewart, CB Jordan Mabin, LB Quentin Davie. PENN STATE: QB Daryll Clark, RB Stephfon Green, TE Andrew Quarless, LB Sean Lee, DT Jared Odrick, CB A.J. Wallace, starting offensive line. OHIO STATE: DE Cameron Heyward, DT Doug Worthington, RB Brandon Saine, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, K Devin Barclay, K Aaron Pettrey, P Jon Thoma, starting offensive line. MICHIGAN STATE: RB Edwin Baker, WR Blair White, P Aaron Bates, LB Greg Jones, starting offensive line. IOWA: QB Ricky Stanzi, TE Tony Moeaki, P Ryan Donahue, DT Karl Klug, LB A.J. Edds, DE Broderick Binns, starting offensive line.
PASADENA, Calif. -- Ohio State has the lead again at 19-17, but it's hard to think it will last.

The Buckeyes continue to drive into Oregon's red zone but stall before the goal line. Since their opening touchdown drive, they have had four field goals, as both Devin Barclay and Aaron Pettrey have been terrific. But field goals usually don't beat Oregon.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have converted two red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. Terrelle Pryor just had one of his first really bad throws of the game, as he missed Dane Sanzenbacher for a possible touchdown.
PASADENA, Calif. -- Ohio State wants to reduce the number of possessions in this game and keep Oregon's high-powered offense off the field.

The Buckeyes just executed their plan to perfection.

After Oregon had tied the score at 10-10, Terrelle Pryor led a 19-play drive that ate up 8:03. Aside from ending with a touchdown, it was the perfect answer to the Ducks' surge. Ohio State converted three third downs and a fourth down, including a third-and-15 where Pryor found Dan Herron.

Devin Barclay converted his second field-goal attempt and Ohio State leads 13-10.

Rose Bowl keys: Ohio State

December, 31, 2009
12/31/09
9:00
PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- The 96th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi is nearly upon us, and here are three keys for No. 8 Ohio State as it tries to end its BCS bowl slide against No. 7 Oregon on New Year's Day (ABC, 4:30 p.m. ET).

1. Allow Terrelle Pryor to make a difference with his feet: I know Pryor is a bit banged up, but he remains Ohio State's most dangerous offensive weapon. I've yet to see a defense consistently stop Pryor around the edges, and that includes Texas in the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, a game where Pryor easily could have had 50 more rush yards. If the Buckeyes can run between the tackles with Brandon Saine and Dan Herron and then go outside with Pryor, they'll be tough to stop. It's the last game. It's a must win. It's time to turn Pryor loose and let him be a difference maker.

2. Buckeyes linebackers must tackle well in the open field: Oregon knows Ohio State's defensive line is trouble, and it will try to run away from Cameron Heyward, Thaddeus Gibson and Co. LaMichael James is one of the fastest backs Ohio State has faced in some time, so there will be increased pressure on linebackers Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Austin Spitler to be sound in their tackling. Ohio State tackles better than the Pac-10 defenses Oregon typically faces, but James, Jeremiah Masoli, Kenjon Barner and LeGarrette Blount all have the speed to take it the distance.

3. Win the special teams edge: This is usually a given for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have some questions at kicker and with their punt and kick returners. They also allowed a long kickoff return for a touchdown Nov. 14 against Iowa. Ohio State can help its offense by winning the field-position battle, breaking off a big runback or two and keeping Oregon's dangerous return teams in check. Barner averages 24.3 yards on kickoff returns and has a 100-yard touchdown, and he's no slouch on punt returns (9.1 ypr average). If the game comes down to a field goal, Jim Tressel has two decent options in Devin Barclay and Aaron Pettrey.
LOS ANGELES -- Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Jim Tressel's career knows how important special teams means to the Ohio State head coach.

The kicking game has played an enormous role in Tressel's success, and it's no surprise that Ohio State clinched a Rose Bowl berth on a 39-yard field goal by backup kicker Devin Barclay in overtime against Iowa.

Sound special teams are a given at Ohio State, but the team has more question marks than usual in the third phase heading into its matchup against No. 7 Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi (ABC, 4:30 p.m. ET). There's some haziness at place-kicker as well as on punt and kickoff returns.

The Buckeyes' kicker situation actually is a decent problem to have.

Starter Aaron Pettrey suffered a torn MCL in his right (kicking) leg on kickoff coverage Oct. 31 against New Mexico State. Pettrey underwent surgery and had a wire inserted in his knee to hold the ligament in place. Barclay handled the kicking duties in November, but Pettrey has made an incredible recovery and will be available against Oregon.

During bowl practice, he has drilled 50-yard field goals with room to spare and converted a 63-yard attempt in Tuesday's practice.

"I'm just happy to be back," Pettrey said. "The doctor told my parents after the surgery that there's no way I'd be back for the game. [Pettrey's parents] never told me that until last week, so I feel great."

Barclay will handle kickoff duties Friday rather than Pettrey, mainly because of the torque it puts on the knee and the need to have a capable 11th tackler on the coverage unit. But the two likely will share field goal duties against Oregon.

Pettrey converted 13 of 19 attempts before his injury, while Barclay is 4-of-7 with the big 39-yarder against Iowa.

"Devin's still been with the [first team], I'm with the 2s," Pettrey said. "Devin's been kicking all year, and I've taken a month and a half off. I've only had like a week to get ready. If I'm back, I'm back, and right now, I feel close, 90-95 percent."

Ohio State gets deeper at kicker but thinner on returns because wide receiver Ray Small, the team's primary punt returner and No. 2 kick returner, is suspended after a repeat violation of team rules. Wideout Duron Carter, another return option, also is unavailable because of academics.

Tressel said Thursday that wide receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher will handle punt returns Friday, with running back Jordan Hall as the third option. Posey and Sanzenbacher have combined for three returns this year.

Lamaar Thomas remains Ohio State's top option on kick returns, and one of the team's top running backs, Brandon Saine or Dan Herron, will occupy the second spot. Saine has three kick returns for 67 yards (22.3 ypr) this season.

"I'm not excited about the way I've been given this opportunity," said Thomas, who could also be a bigger factor as a receiver Friday. "I'm truly going to miss those guys, Ray and Duron, but it is going to be an opportunity that I'll be able to showcase some things. I'm excited about that."
In a college football season that largely went according to plan, the Big Ten campaign followed a familiar script.

Ohio State once again emerged as the conference champion, a title it has owned six times this decade. Not far behind the Buckeyes are Iowa and Penn State, two teams also projected to challenge for the title. The Big Ten stuck to its roots and played ferocious defense, boasting the nation's finest collection of down linemen. On the flip side, the quarterback position continued to plague the conference.

The truth is, not a lot changed in the Big Ten this year.

Michigan struggled again, and Illinois continued its post-Rose Bowl nosedive. Iowa and Northwestern built on momentum generated last season, while Wisconsin reclaimed its place among the league's better squads. Ohio State won the league despite just two first-team all-conference players, while Penn State pounded inferior teams but struggled in its two showcase games.

The league once again took its lumps in nonconference play, going 5-9 against BCS conference teams and Notre Dame. But the Big Ten boasts three top 15 teams and will send two squads to BCS bowls for the fifth consecutive season.

Despite the status quo feeling of the season, there were plenty of exciting moments.

Iowa mounted the best start in team history, winning its first nine games, eight in come-from-behind fashion. Michigan and Notre Dame provided an entertaining shootout, which elevated hopes before both traditional powerhouses went kaput. Purdue ended long slides against ranked teams and at Michigan Stadium, while Indiana showed some improvement despite all-too-familiar results. Michigan State found itself in several of the league's most thrilling games (Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa, Minnesota), but the Spartans struggled to overcome inconsistent play.

All of this brings the Big Ten to a familiar place, needing to prove itself in the bowls to regain national respect. The league flopped last year, going 1-6 in postseason play, and extended its losing streak in BCS bowls to six.

The bowl lineup looks more manageable this year, but coaches and players around the Big Ten understand the urgency to get results in the coming weeks.

Offensive MVP -- Wisconsin RB John Clay

There weren't many viable candidates in a defense-driven league, but Clay rose to the top with his punishing running style. After a hiccup against Wofford, the sophomore embraced a featured role and eclipsed 100 rushing yards in seven of his final nine games, including each of the last five. Clay ranks 14th nationally in rushing (116.3) and was the lone Big Ten back to average more than 100 rush yards per game.
Brad Schloss/Icon SMIMichigan State linebacker Greg Jones led the Big Ten with 141 tackles.

Defensive MVP -- Michigan State LB Greg Jones

A much tougher call here, as you could make a case for 10 defensive standouts. Jones gets the nod because of his ability to find the football on seemingly every play. He led the Big Ten and ranked third nationally with 141 tackles and also led Big Ten linebackers with nine sacks, which ranked fifth overall in the conference. Honorable mentions go to Michigan's Brandon Graham, Penn State's Navorro Bowman and Jared Odrick, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Pat Angerer, Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield, and Ohio State's Kurt Coleman.

Coach of the Year -- Iowa's Kirk Ferentz

Another tough decision between Ferentz and Ohio State's Jim Tressel, who amazingly has never won the award. While Tressel deserves a ton of credit for getting Ohio State back on track after an Oct. 17 loss at Purdue, Ferentz encountered major obstacles seemingly every week. Iowa battled injuries from the preseason until early November, when quarterback Ricky Stanzi went down against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes also had the league's toughest road schedule and nearly went 4-0. For a guy that some wanted out after three mediocre seasons and a wave of off-field problems, Ferentz has restored his place among the nation's elite coaches.

Biggest surprise -- Wisconsin

The outlook in Madison looked pretty gloomy in early August, as Wisconsin had seen its wins total decrease in each of the last two seasons. Throw in another quarterback competition and major questions throughout the defensive front seven, and Wisconsin entered the fall with fairly low expectations. But Bret Bielema's team improved in almost every area. The Badgers boast a balanced offense of Clay's power running and an effective play-action pass attack operated by surprising quarterback Scott Tolzien. The defense got younger but better, as Big Ten Freshman of the Year Chris Borland emerged at linebacker.

Biggest disappointment -- Illinois

Ron Zook's team receives this undesirable distinction for the second straight year after a miserable 3-9 finish. The Illini are 8-16 since their surprise Rose Bowl run in 2007, and while Zook is expected to return next fall, the program is losing momentum on the recruiting trail and at the ticket booth. Things went downhill from the get-go, as Illinois fell flat against Missouri in the opener. Juice Williams and the offense took a long time to get going, and by that point, the defense was a mess. Other disappointments included Michigan, which didn't beat an FBS team in October or November to fall out of bowl contention. Michigan State and Minnesota also fell short of expectations.

Game of the Year -- Ohio State 27, Iowa 24 (OT), Nov. 14

A lackluster end to regulation shouldn't spoil a memorable game, and both Iowa and Ohio State provided plenty of drama at The Shoe. Hawkeyes backup quarterback James Vandenberg nearly became a state hero as he tried to rally Iowa to a Rose Bowl berth in his first career start. Iowa mounted one of its patented rallies, but the Buckeyes prevailed in the end as backup kicker Devin Barclay, a 26-year-old former Major League Soccer player, nailed the game-winning field goal in overtime. Honorable mentions go to Iowa-Michigan State (Oct. 24) and Michigan-Notre Dame (Sept. 12).
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick thoughts from Ohio State's 27-24 overtime win against Iowa.

How the game was won: Ohio State's defense clamped down in overtime, pushing Iowa out of field goal range with a Doug Worthington sack and a tackle for loss. The offense didn't need to do much and really didn't, but backup kicker Devin Barclay drilled a 39-yard field goal to win it.

What it means: Ohio State will almost certainly be going to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. The Buckeyes also clinched at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten championship. Iowa might have played its way into a BCS at-large berth with an impressive performance under very tough circumstances.

Player of the game: Ohio State junior running back Brandon Saine stepped up big with his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Saine's 49-yard scoring burst gave the Buckeyes a 14-point, fourth-quarter cushion.

Second guessing: Both head coaches played it extremely conservative in the closing minutes, and it cost Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Iowa had possession at its own 33-yard line with 52 seconds left in regulation and one timeout. Quarterback James Vandenberg had thrown the ball well, but Iowa didn't attempt one pass and ran out the clock. Ferentz played not to lose, and he lost.

What Iowa learned: Its backup quarterback is pretty darn good. Vandenberg made only one major mistake in his first career start and showed tremendous poise. He didn't get a ton of help from the wide receivers until the second half. Iowa also learned that when you have a chance to win on the road, you have to play it bold.

What Ohio State learned: When the game is on the line, the defense will step up. The Silver Bullets did just that in overtime and allowed the offense to play conservatively. The Buckeyes also learned that the offensive line can have a dominant performance and Saine and Dan Herron aren't too shabby.video

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