NCF Nation: Kirk DeCremer
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Several teams are getting healthy, while the status of Ohio State running back Beanie Wells remains in doubt as the Week 2 games approach.
- The Big Ten is running out of chances to improve its national image, Loren Tate writes in The (Champaign, Ill.) News-Gazette.
"History is building. In the eight previous seasons of the 21st century, the Big Ten bowl audit shows 10-12 vs. the SEC, 5-7 against the Big 12, 3-8 in meetings with the Pac-10 and 2-3 vs. the ACC. That's a 20-30 record that computes to 40 percent."
- Illinois coach Ron Zook identified three major problems in the loss to Missouri. The run game wasn't one of them, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Indiana wideout Andrew Means is a big fan of the no-huddle offense, though coach Bill Lynch thinks it needs more work, Chris Korman writes in the Bloomington Herald Times (subscription required).
- Is Iowa's quarterback competition being blown out of proportion? Coach Kirk Ferentz thinks so, but it's time for junior Jake Christensen to win the thing already, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Don't expect more bulletin-board material from Hawkeyes offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde before the Iowa State game, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- The Big Ten is taking plenty of heat for soft scheduling, but The Detroit News' Lynn Henning thinks Michigan made things too hard by playing Utah in Rich Rodriguez's debut.
- An added workload this season doesn't bother Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, Andrew Mouranie writes in the Lansing State Journal. Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham are emerging as the Spartans' top receivers, Cash Kruth (great name) writes in The State News. Quarterback Brian Hoyer will take the criticism -- for now, Eric Lacy writes in The Detroit News.
- Minnesota could use talented freshman Troy Stoudermire on more than just kickoff returns, Kent Youngblood writes the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi will sign a two-year contract extension, Charley Waters writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Northwestern's new-look offensive line passed its first test, Lindsey Willhite writes in the Daily Herald. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald is glued to weather.com before heading to Duke, where Hurricane Hanna could be a factor.
- Beanie Wells' mom says her son has a toe injury -- not turf toe -- and will be back on the field soon for Ohio State, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
"You know him," she said. "He doesn't want to sit for a week and be rusty (for USC)."
When he spotted reporters Tuesday, Beanie waved his walking boot over his head. Looks like he'll be fine, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Penn State's secondary will be put to the test against Lyle Moevao and Oregon State, Cory Giger writes in The Altoona Mirror. Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno will know much more about his team after Saturday, Frank Bodani writes in The York Daily Record.
- Kory Sheets has always wanted to be The Man at Purdue, but the senior has shown a greater sense of urgency after Jaycen Taylor's season-ending knee injury, Tom Kubat writes in The Journal and Courier.
- Several young Wisconsin defenders are learning quick, much to the enjoyment of coach Bret Bielema, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Badgers defensive end Kirk DeCremer could become a volunteer coach after a career-ending back injury, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten presence in this week's polls played out mostly as expected.
USC's impressive showing bumped Ohio State down a spot in the AP Poll, and concerns about Beanie Wells' health make it hard to put the Buckeyes higher. Georgia has more injury issues than Ohio State but none that quite match the magnitude of Wells'. If the Bulldogs struggle Saturday against Central Michigan, they could swap places with the Buckeyes. Fortunately for Ohio State, it has a chance to claim the No. 1 ranking -- possibly for good -- with a win against USC in Week 3.
Wisconsin's move to No. 11 in both polls stemmed more from Clemson's disaster than anything the Badgers did against Akron. I had the Badgers at No. 14 in my latest power rankings more because of lingering injury problems. Don't underestimate the loss of defensive end Kirk DeCremer. He was a young playmaker who provided depth on a defensive line filled with guys coming off major injuries. The Badgers really need linebacker Jonathan Casillas on the field next week at Fresno State.
Penn State's move up to 19th also looks about right. This isn't a reward for beating Coastal Carolina but an acknowledgment that the Nittany Lions could be a force in the Big Ten this season. They have a ton of weapons on the offensive side, and if quarterback Daryll Clark limits mistakes, there's no reason to think the unit won't average 30-35 points a game. A win against Oregon State should keep Penn State in the 15-20 range in the rankings.
We knew Illinois would drop after allowing 52 points to Missouri, but how far? The Illini barely remained in both polls -- I had them at No. 24 in my rankings -- and soon could be bumped by Cal and East Carolina. Looking at the overall talent, Illinois is clearly one of the nation's 25 best teams, but it can't afford fundamental breakdowns on defense like the ones last Saturday. Sure-fire wins against Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette should keep Illinois in the polls before a Sept. 27 visit to Penn State.
Michigan dropped out of the coaches' poll after never deserving to be in there in the first place. Coach Rich Rodriguez acknowledged as much after the first preseason practice. The Wolverines shouldn't be worried about rankings right now, but they have a chance -- after the Miami (Ohio) game -- to get noticed with matchups against Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Michigan State should be back in the fringe soon, but the Spartans first have to correct some problems in crunch time.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue's media day begins later Thursday morning, and I'll be there to check in with Heisman candidate Curtis Painter, coach-in-waiting Danny Hope and the rest of the Boilers.
First, I give you the links on the other 10 teams.
- My appearance at Camp Rantoul made Bob Asmussen's daily practice recap in The [Champaign, Ill.] News-Gazette. Thanks, Bob. Much more newsworthy items include a note on Illinois center Ryan McDonald and the fact several projected starters will appear on special teams this fall. Zook's best recruits at Illinois have come from the Washington, D.C., area, but he's also going back to his Ohio roots for talent. No big secret here, but the 2008 season hinges heavily on quarterback Juice Williams.
- Forget about Iowa's history of bouncing back from bad seasons on and off the field. Want a reason to be optimistic about the Hawkeyes? Wide receiver Andy Brodell is back in the fold, Susan Harman writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Brodell is a difference-maker. Forbes magazine calls Iowa's Kirk Ferentz the worst value in college football, given his salary. I still think Iowa had to finalize Ferentz's contract at the time.
"The most overpaid coach is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who made $3.4 million last year despite lackluster results on the field, for a score of 71. Just how lopsided is Ferentz's deal? During the last three years he's pocketed $10 million, including a record $4.7 million in 2006, but has led the Hawkeyes to just a 19-18 record."
- Mitchell Evans came to Indiana with an open-minded attitude about where he'd play. The Hoosiers are putting that approach to the test by moving Evans to wide receiver, Terry Hutchens writes in The Indianapolis Star. A couple of more previews on Indiana, which wants to get back to a bowl game and win it this time.
- Rich Rodriguez might not be beloved on the practice field, but he also keeps his door open for his new players, the AP's Larry Lage writes. Nebraska's Bo Pelini isn't the only big-time coach looking to rebuild the walk-on program at his school. RichRod wants all the help he can get, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News.
- Michigan State running back A.J. Jimmerson is no stranger to competition at his position, Chris Solari writes in the Lansing State Journal. A nationally televised opener at Cal gives the Spartans a chance to make an early statement, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Running back is a big concern at Minnesota, but a healthy Jay Thomas should help matters, Myron Medcalf writes in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Two years ago, Jeff Tow-Arnett and Adam Weber worked on the quarterback-center exchange as young scout teamers at Minnesota. Now they're in the spotlight as starters, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- The Chicago Sun-Times' Jim O'Donnell checks in from Camp Kenosha, where Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sees his defense improving and his new-look offensive line coming together. The Wildcats' bowl hopes hinge heavily on senior quarterback C.J. Bacher, Jay Taft writes in the Rockford Register Star.
- Despite two national title misses, Ohio State's coaches aren't concerning themselves with the past, Rob Oller writes in the Columbus Dispatch. Probably a good thing. Defensive tackle could be a weak spot for the Buckeyes, but defensive coordinator Jim Heacock likes what he has, The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises writes in his blog. Buckeyes center Jim Cordle could fool defenders at the line by snapping the ball with both hands, Ken Gordon writes in the Columbus Dispatch.
- Tyrell Sales is filling some big shoes as Penn State's linebacker leader, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The starters look set in Penn State's secondary, but watch out for reserve safety Drew Astorino, The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News' Bob Flounders writes in his blog. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane has a rundown of the improvements at Beaver Stadium this fall.
- Wisconsin cornerbacks Allen Langford and Aaron Henry have walked parallel paths following ACL surgery. Both men are back in the mix for starting jobs, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Defensive end O'Brien Schofield, a projected starter opposite Matt Shaughnessy, will miss 1-2 weeks of practice after suffering an ankle injury. End Kirk DeCremer remained out of both Wednesday practices, while quarterback Allan Evridge could return today, Potrykus writes in the Badgers Blog.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
RANTOUL, Ill. -- I took off my Illinois blinders for a few minutes to look around the league. Here's what I found.
- Three Michigan State freshmen face one of the vaguest charges I've ever heard -- "failure to obey the police" -- after a June 30 incident. The Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode has the story. Defensive end Cameron Jude, one of the three, should be in the mix for playing time this fall.
- A Wisconsin injury update from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus. Several key players sat out Wednesday's first practice, including quarterback Allan Evridge [hamstring], defensive end Kirk DeCremer (back), cornerback Aaron Henry (knee) and running back John Clay (ankle).
- After the title game flop, Ohio State's defense is hoping to change its national perception this fall, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Mike Rothstein has a good interview with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, a former Notre Dame assistant. Alvarez commented on having his own statue in Madison.
"You always feel like when they put a statue up, the guy's dead. It's different, though."
- An interesting development in the Iowa sexual assault case. Apparently the alleged victim text-messaged with one of the accused former Hawkeyes football players after the alleged incident, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports. Thankfully, there is some news about what's happening on the field at Iowa, as running back Shonn Greene returns to the mix. Iowa isn't the only Big Ten school to add a player development position, Randy Peterson writes in the Des Moines Register.
- The wait is finally over for Comcast cable subscribers, who can begin watching the Big Ten Network on Friday morning, Mark Alesia writes in The Indianapolis Star.