NCF Nation: Illinois Fighting Illini Miami Thomas
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
No case of the Mondays today. The best week of the Big Ten's nonconference slate is officially under way. Despite an 11-0 mark in Week 2, the Big Ten still has plenty of work to improve its national reputation, and this is the time to do it. Matchups against top-ranked USC, No. 16 Oregon, No. 21 Fresno State and an always-spotlighted Notre Dame team provide the Big Ten the chance to change public opinion.
Quarterback questions linger at Iowa and Michigan, while injuries are piling up around the league. Here's a look:
- An interesting piece from The Indianapolis Star's Mark Alesia about the popularity and peril of football teams accepting "special admits" in recruiting.
- Illinois starting safety Miami Thomas will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The Illini expect to move Dere Hicks to his spot and hope to get wideout Jeff Cumberland back from a foot injury. Defensive tackle Josh Brent also is ailing, Mark Tupper writes in the Decatur Herald & Review (scroll down a bit).
- Sure, it was Murray State, but Indiana's defense looks much stingier so far this season, Terry Hutchens writes in The Indianapolis Star.
- Ricky Stanzi is the fans' choice to become Iowa's starting quarterback, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Longtime starter Jake Christensen took his demotion in stride, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Running back Sam McGuffie is picking it up, but don't expect many fireworks from Michigan's offense this fall, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. Despite an elbow injury to left tackle Mark Ortmann, the Wolverines' offensive line seemed to jell against Miami (Ohio), Jim Carty writes in The Ann Arbor News.
- Michigan State is using key starters (S Otis Wiley, RB Javon Ringer) on special teams, and so far it's paying off, Andrew Mouranie writes in the Lansing State Journal. Ringer doesn't expect his workload to lessen, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Minnesota's big road win against Bowling Green might come with a cost, as starting running back Duane Bennett went down with a knee injury, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. No word yet on the severity of the injury.
- Northwestern left Duke with an ugly win, but questions on both sides of the ball, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Ohio State's conservative play calling without Chris "Beanie" Wells raises some concerns if the star remains limited for USC, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Buckeyes' takeaways on defense didn't lighten the mood from Saturday's near disaster, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- The comparisons between Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark and former Lions star Michael Robinson are hard to ignore, Jeff McLane writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Lions must overcome more adversity after the season-ending loss of defensive end Jerome Hayes, Jeff Rice writes in the Centre Daily Times.
- Purdue is optimistic that standout right tackle Sean Sester (back) will play against Oregon. The Boilers need him. Purdue is preparing for the Ducks' speed, Tom Kubat writes in The Journal and Courier.
- Slow starts are becoming a problem for Wisconsin, which can't come out flat at Fresno State, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.