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Around the Big Ten Archives

Big Ten Bowl Pairings: What Does It All Mean?

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Tim Cary

The pairings for all 34 bowl games are finally official, and seven of them include Big Ten teams.  That means we can finally quit talking about last bowl season's horrible performance by conference teams and start trying to figure out if Big Ten teams will win more than one bowl this winter.

We begin with the matchup everyone already knew about:

ROSE BOWL: OHIO STATE vs. OREGON, January 1
Michigan vs. Ohio State
What it means: The Buckeyes will play in their fifth straight Bowl Championship Series game (but their first Rose Bowl since 1996), and will look to snap a three-game BCS losing streak.  The good news for Big Ten fans...at least the opponent isn't USC. 

Oregon has proven their mettle the last two games, outlasting Arizona in the desert and coming back to win the Civil War game against in-state rival Oregon State.  Jeremiah Masoli, LaMichael James, and LeGarrette Blount should provide a formidable test for an Ohio State defense that comes in allowing just over 12 points per game.


ORANGE BOWL: IOWA vs. GEORGIA TECH, January 5Iowa Hawkeyes v South Carolina Gamecocks
What it means: The conference gets a second BCS team yet again, which is both good news and bad news for Big Ten fans.  The good news is a big-time payout to be divided among the league's 11 schools, while the bad news means tougher postseason matchups for Big Ten teams, since they all "play up" one game.

(The third Big Ten team, not the second, goes to the Capital One Bowl, etc.)  Iowa will hope to reclaim its early-season magic, perhaps with injured quarterback Ricky Stanzi back under center.  On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes will try to slow down the always-difficult triple option that the Yellow Jackets (the 2009 ACC champions) run to perfection.
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: The Finale

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Tim Cary

The Big Ten season has concluded, and Ohio State's on top of the standings. 

Again.

Michigan vs. Ohio State

While Illinois and Wisconsin still have some non-conference action to attend to, this past weekend's games marked the end of the regular season for most of the teams in the league, and (sadly) marks the end of another season of "Carrying On".

If you need to step away from your computer to shed a tear or five, now's the time.

Ahem...moving right along...

As always, we start with the spotlight game.


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Illinois and Ron Zook Understand Each Other, How to Lose

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Kristofer Green

CHAMPAIGN--Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was three years old when Illinois coach Ron Zook began his coaching career at Murray State, five years old when Zook left Murray State for Cincinnati, and 8 years old when Zook took over as defensive coordinator at Kansas.


Before Fitzgerald went on to be a two-time All-American linebacker for the Wildcats, Zook had also worked for Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Florida.


In 1997, when Fitzgerald was a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys and Zook was the special teams coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the two teams met at Three Rivers Stadium for the season opener.


Fitzgerald's team won that day too.

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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: November 14

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Tim Cary

It was another busy weekend in Big Ten country, and in honor of "Cup-Half-Empty Day" (a holiday I just invented), here are five disappointments that jumped out at me from Saturday's action.


UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: FIVE THINGS I LEARNED

1.  Michigan is in utter-collapse mode. 
The Wolverines dropped their sixth straight conference game, losing by three touchdowns at Wisconsin Saturday.  After opening the season 4-0, Rich Rodriguez's 5-6 ballclub will have to upset Ohio State in the teams' annual rivalry game to have any hope of going bowling. 
Eastern Michigan v Michigan

The Badgers embarrassed the porous Michigan defense, courtesy of four Scott Tolzien passing touchdowns and 151 rushing yards from John Clay.  If there's anything I've learned from my many years of watching football, it's this: teams that treat defense as an optional endeavor will always struggle...and with the Wolverines allowing 39 points per game in their last four losses, things seem to be going from bad to worse for the Maize and Blue.


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Gameday from Champaign: The Battle for Illinois is Sloppy to Start

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Kristofer Green

CHAMPAIGN, Il--On a bright, sunshine filled day in Champaign, the annual battle for bragging rights in the state of Illinois is underway.

Both the Illini and Northwestern are riding high. The Wildcats are coming off an upset victory over Iowa and the streaking Illini have seemingly turned their season around after a horrendous start.

For Illinois, the game is critical to the uphill battle they face in becoming bowl eligible. A loss would mean the Illini are home for the holidys for the second consecutive year.

Northwestern is already bowl eligible, but are fighting for position in a league where every team in still in contention for the postseason.

Yet, at the outset of a game with such importance both teams have sputtered to a very sloppy opening.

Illinois' Arrelious Benn was one stumble away from returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But even with the good field position, the Illini were unable to move the ball any further and had to punt.

Northwestern was held to a three and out on their first drive after Illinois defensive end Clay Nurse forced a intentional grounding call on Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka.

Illinois, after Stefan Demos shanked a Northwestern punt, was set up around the Wildcats 30 yard line. The Illini drove the ball all the way to the Northwestern three yard line before having to settle for the field goal attempt.

Matt Eller missed.

It could be a long day in Champaign if these teams don't get it together.

Big Ten Teams Batting .500: Where Mediocrity And Bowl Eligibility Collide

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Tim Cary

As the Big Ten football season winds down, all eleven teams in the conference still have hopes of finishing their schedules with the six wins necessary to become bowl-eligible.

(And I thought parity only happened in the NFL.)

While simply having enough victories to qualify for the postseason doesn't automatically ensure a bowl berth, five teams have already hit the magic number and are looking forward to a likely postseason trip: Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Northwestern.

After that quintet, things get much murkier. Both Indiana and Purdue need wins in their final two games to finish at 6-6, so at least one of the in-state rivals will be staying home for the holidays (the two schools meet in the regular-season finale on November 21).

From there, it's anybody's guess how many six-win squads the Big Ten produces.  Depending on the results of the remaining games, the conference could have as many as ten bowl-eligible programs...or as few as the five listed above.  Most likely, the total number will be somewhere between those extremes.

But that raises an interesting question: is it better for the league to produce more bowl-eligible teams or less?  While I want my favorite school to qualify for the postseason, I have to admit ten bowl-eligible teams could be the worst thing to ever happen to the Big Ten--and here's why...
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: November 7

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Tim Cary

You may have heard, but Purdue won in Ann Arbor for the first time in forever Saturday afternoon.

Maybe there's hopes for the Cubs winning another World Series after all.


UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: PURDUE 38, MICHIGAN 36

Five things I learned from Purdue's first victory in the Big House since 1966...

Michigan vs. Purdue
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A Topsy-Turvy Day In The Big Ten: Ohio State Now In Control of the Championship

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Kristofer Green

The Big Ten's topsy-turvy day has come to an end.

No. 4 Iowa saw it's magical run come to an end at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats; Illinois continued its renaissance by holding on to beat the Gophers on the road; Western Michigan was no match for the "oh so close" Spartans; Purdue became the only team to sweep both Ohio State and Michigan this season; and Wisconsin held off a scrappy Indiana team.

Then there was the big game in State College...

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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 31

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Tim Cary

Ohio State-New Mexico State summary, glass half-full edition:
"They had 310 rushing yards, so that's pretty fair." -- Jim Tressel, describing his offense's performance against NMSU.

Ohio State-New Mexico State summary, glass half-empty edition:
"This is the worst 45-point win I've ever seen." -- Ohio State fan on postgame radio call-in show.

Ohio State vs. Minneosta


UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: OHIO STATE 45, NEW MEXICO STATE 0


Just in case the previous two quotes didn't tell you everything there is to know about Saturday's Buckeyes-Aggies game, allow me to add five things I learned from my first trip to the Ohio Stadium press box.


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Handpicked Highlights: Zeke And Zug Finally Getting Noticed

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Tim Cary

Zug, Markshausen have taken similar route to Big Ten.  PublicOpinionOnline.com compares the humble beginnings of Northwestern wideout Zeke Marshausen and Penn State receiver Graham Zug, heading into Saturday's showdown between the Wildcats and Nittany Lions.
Indiana vs. NorthwesternPenn State v Ohio State

Craziest headline of the week.  I understand Purdue is enjoying a two-game winning streak, but did you really just mention the Rose Bowl, even in jest?
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 24

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Tim Cary

So far this season, I've watched three Big Ten football games from the comfort of the press box.

I like this.

Especially because press boxes happen to be climate-controlled.

This past weekend, I hadn't applied for any media credentials, and I had visions of enjoying my day off by sitting at home with my two televisions and watching college football all afternoon.

You see, my living room is also climate controlled.

However, I ended up receiving free tickets to the Ohio State/Minnesota game in Columbus at the last minute.  And while watching college football on television is a great way to spend a fall Saturday, watching college football in person is an even better option. 
Wisconsin v Ohio State

Only one small problem.  The Buckeyes tickets, which were generously given to me by my mother-in-law (thanks Betsy!), were in the C deck of the Horseshoe.

And in case you wondered...

...the C-deck is not climate-controlled.

Without any further ado, it's the hypothermic edition of "Carrying On About Big Ten Football".

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EARLY GAME RESULTS: Pryor, Buckeyes Respond With A Dominating Performance

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Kristofer Green

Ohio State 38, Minnesota 7

Embattled Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his offense responded to two weeks of growing criticism with a dominating second half performance against a suddenly struggling Minnesota squad.

The Buckeyes wracked up 509 yards of total offense and Pryor accounted for 343 total yards and three touchdowns, including two bombs to receiver DeVier Posey who had 161 and the two touchdowns.

The Gophers again struggled to move the ball on offense with any consistency. Adam Weber threw for 112 yards on only 10 completions and had two interceptions. Weber's day seem to unravel when all-everything receiver Eric Decker left in the first quarter with a foot injury.


Northwestern 29, Indiana 28

The Wildcats, down 28-3 to Indiana with 7:32 remaining in the second quarter, finally showed up to play. Quarterback Mike Kafka directed two long scoring drives in the final 4:07 of the first half to get the Wildcats back in the game.

Then the Northwestern defense completely shut down the Hoosier offense in the second half, while the 'Cats defense added a safety, Kafka tossed another touchdown, and Stefan Demos sealed the comeback with a 19 yard field goal with :21 remaining.

Indiana failed to capitalize on a dominant first 20 minutes and the Hoosier defense could not stop Kafka, who picked them apart with ease on his way to a 312 yard day.


Purdue 24, Illinois 14

The Boilermakers used the momentum from last week's upset win over the Buckeyes and another excellent defensive performance this week to beat a reeling Illinois team who is still searching for their first victory over an FBS opponent.

Purdue backs Ralph Bolden and Jaycen Taylor combined for 149 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Joey Elliott added another 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground as the Boilermakers turned in the first turnover free performance of the season.

The Illini used three quarterbacks who combined for 142 yards and and interception. Ron Zook, seemingly in search of a spark on offense, is instead grasping at straws at this point. Using three quarterbacks is not the way to establish consistency on offense.

Handpicked Highlights: How Does The Michigan AD Search Affect Rich Rodriguez?

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Tim Cary

Is Rich Rodriguez one of the top five coaches in America?  According to this article, the next athletic director in Ann Arbor should think so.
Notre Dame v Michigan

Can Penn State survive the Haunted House...err...Big House?
  The Collegian runs down some of the tough luck the Nittany Lions have had at Michigan, where they don't have a victory since 1996.

Hawkeyes or Spartans -- who ya got?
  Bleacher Report's Kevin Trahan breaks down this weekend's primetime showdown in East Lansing, while the Free Press examines the recruiting similarities between the two programs (and the ramifications of Saturday's outcome).

Things are looking up in West Lafayette.  The Boilermakers' morale-boosting upset of Ohio State raises a few interesting questions: Why do fans cheer when Purdue fair catches a punt?  Would Danny Hope attempt an 117-yard field goal?  Which defensive lineman should opponents double-team, standout tackle Mike Neal or National Defensive Player of the Week Ryan Kerrigan?
Purdue vs. Ohio State

Not quite so happy in Buckeye-land. 
So it's a little bit of a stretch, but one blogger is ready to compare the missing OSU offense to Tonya Harding and Bo Jackson. 
 
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 17

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Tim Cary

Welcome to the Pet Peeves edition of "Carrying On About Big Ten Football".  This week's column will be completely normal with the exception of random PET PEEVE alerts every few paragraphs to catch you up on the things in sports that have been frustrating me.

In other words, certain aspects of the sports world have been so overwhelmingly annoying to me that I haven't been able to concentrate on enjoying Big Ten football.  And I feel like talking about them.
Emmy "Hearts On Fire" Diamond Indulgence Lounge - Day 2

If you're not the type who likes to listen to complaining, you may want to skip this one.

You've been warned.

PET PEEVE ALERT:  I'm sick of the Brett Favre coverage.  Okay, that's not very accurate.  I've always been sick of the Brett Favre coverage, and I don't understand how anyone can cheer for him after retiring and un-retiring a million times because he likes media attention a lot more than training camp practices.  So, I'm admittedly biased.

(By the way, you know Favre started his career a Falcon, right?  I guess there's more than one Falcon involved in staging and stringing out elaborate productions to hijack national news feeds and draw attention to themselves...but enough about Balloon Boy.)

So did you see the end of the same Vikings/Ravens game I did yesterday?  The one where Favre and company choked away a 27-10 lead, went back on top late, and then escaped a loss to a .500 Ravens team because their field goal kicker missed on the last play of the game?  My headline for that story is: "Ravens kicker blows chance to upset Vikes". 

The USA Today sub-headline is: "QB's heroics thwart furious rally by Ravens".

What?

How did Favre's heroics stop the Ravens' rally?  Favre's heroics consisted of sitting on the sideline with his head buried, not wanting to watch Baltimore ruin his perfect season on a mid-range field goal attempt.  Did he block the kick?  Did he throw a Hail Mary?

No.  He won because Baltimore missed a makeable field goal. 

Sounds like "heroics" to me.  END PET PEEVE ALERT.
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 10

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Tim Cary

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- As many of our readers know, I wrote a column less than two months ago predicting the result of every game in the Big Ten.  I mulled over possible outcomes, considered matchups, carefully weighed home-field advantages, searched for breakout players, tried to predict momentum swings, and came up with a finished product I was very proud of.

This self-proclaimed masterpiece predicted a 6-0 start and (ultimately) a league co-championship for Ron Zook's Fighting Illini.  In my way of thinking, the Illini would rebound from a disappointing 2008 season and return to Rose Bowl-type form, led by Juice Williams, Arrelious Benn, and an explosive offense.

Well...

I'm an idiot.

That thought rang through my head as I stood on the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday afternoon and watched Illinois struggle through a 24-14 loss to the visiting Michigan State Spartans that wasn't nearly as close as the respectable final score indicates. 
Michigan State v Illinois

I wasn't watching a Rose Bowl team.

Or a bowl team.

Or an explosive offense.

(So is it too late to edit that predictions article a bit?)

Oh well.  Pride goes before a fall, right?


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Wisconsin at a Crossroads: Can the Badgers Bounce Back?

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Kristofer Green

COLUMBUS, Ohio--This wasn't how Bret Bielema imagined his Saturday afternoon would go.

Bielema's Badgers came into the Horseshoe on Saturday confident, sporting a 5-0 record, and expecting to go 6-0 for the first time since Barry Alvarez roamed the sidelines in 2004.

Wisconsin, under Alvarez, enjoyed tremendous success on the field and other than Michigan, no team has beaten the Buckeyes more often in that time frame (1990-2005) than the Badgers.

Bielema was the defensive coordinator for Alvarez's 2004 team and knows what it takes to beat Ohio State. He also knows that the underdog Badgers were victorious against the mighty Buckeyes four times in six attempts from 1999-2004.
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Handpicked Highlights: Announcing the Return of "Twice as Nice"

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Tim Cary

FirstandBigTen.com has your football fix covered once again this Saturday, as FBT writers will be on location in two different press boxes for another "Twice as Nice" event.

The action kicks off from Champaign at noon Eastern time, as Tim Cary will be reporting from Memorial Stadium on the Homecoming clash between the Illini and the visiting Michigan State Spartans.  
CFB: Iowa vs Illinois NOV 1

Later in the afternoon, our focus shifts to Columbus for the showdown between Ohio State and Wisconsin.  Kristofer Green will be in the Horseshoe to break down all the action.

Look for "Twice as Nice" pregame notes, in-game updates, random observations, interviews, features and more throughout Saturday and the week to come as FirstandBigTen.com takes you inside the gameday experience...TWICE!
USC v Ohio State

(And as always, check our Twitter account at @FirstandBigTen for scores from around the conference and the very latest updates on everything Big Ten football.)
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: October 3

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Tim Cary


Random trivia you care nothing about, part 1:
this week's Microscope game, the showdown between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, was ultimately decided on an overtime touchdown run by Larry Caper, a native of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Random trivia you care nothing about, part 2: this week's column, with a focus on the showdown between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, is written by Tim Cary, a native of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Moving right along...



UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: MICHIGAN STATE 26, MICHIGAN 20 (OT)

Five things that jumped out at me from the latest epic installment of the Wolverines/Spartans rivalry this weekend...


1.  The Paul Bunyan Trophy game is not for the faint of heart.

In case you didn't notice, there was some serious hitting going on Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, Michigan.  It was one of those games where you halfway expect to hear the public address announcer warn all the participants before kickoff: "Memo to wide receivers: go over the middle at your own risk."

I didn't need surround sound in my living room to hear the massive thuds, crunches, and collisions that permeated the 60+ minutes of football.

There were a handful of plays in particular where the quarterback put the ball on the money to his intended target, only to see the receiver rudely separated from said football by a violent encounter with the nearest defender.  (Let's just say Carlos Brown won't forget Chris L. Rucker anytime soon.) 

Bottom line: these teams don't like each other all that much.  And it was obvious Saturday.

CFB: Michigan St vs Michigan OCT 25

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Penn State Bounces Back, Downs Illinois 35-17

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Kristofer Green

Penn State 35, Illinois 17.  All week long the emphasis for the Penn State Nittany Lions has been running the football. That work seemingly paid off.

Both Evan Royster and Stephon Green rushed for more than 100 yards and Darryl Clark added two rushing touchdowns as the Nittany Lions bounced back from last week's disappointing loss to Iowa.

The Illini, needing a bounce back of their own, did move the ball more effectively this week. Juice Williams had 263 yards through the air and ran for a touchdown and Arellius Benn had 96 yards receiving.


Handpicked Highlights: Disappointed Quarterbacks Comparing Notes?

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Tim Cary

Juice Williams, Daryll Clark hope to get on winning track.  Post-Gazette.com has the details of the friends' phone conversation this week.  Pretty sure one of the quarterbacks will get a win tomorrow...since they play against each other and all.

Trouble off the field in Minnesota.
  The Gophers had a sophomore linebacker cited for underage drinking and suspended two more players since last week's win in Evanston.  TwinCities.com has the facts and figures.

Find a new Homecoming opponent, please.
  With this weekend's date at Purdue in mind, Sippin On Purple wonders out loud why Northwestern has to always be the guest for Big Ten homecoming games.

CFB: Northwestern vs Minnesota NOV 1

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Big Ten Catechism: Four Pressing Questions After Four Weeks

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Kristofer Green

It is hard to believe that the college football season is in its fifth week.

It seems like just yesterday we were prognosticating about the outcome of the season before it had even began.

Four weeks of games have passed us by and there have been plenty of surprises, a few disappointments and one rather humorous gum throwing incident.

Now, as we re-evaluate our preseason notions and take stock in actual results, there are a few questions that need to be asked.

These are my answers...
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: September 26

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Tim Cary

"We don't quit.  Boilermakers don't quit.  That's just the way it has to be... I don't think we're all that far off.  I don't think we've arrived yet: I don't think we're ready to take on the Patriots yet, but we certainly have a lot to look forward to." -- Purdue coach Danny Hope


UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: NOTRE DAME 24, PURDUE 21


No long-winded introduction today...mostly because I'm still sleep-deprived from not getting back to Ohio until 4:30 am Sunday!  So we'll jump right in with five things I observed from the Purdue/Notre Dame thriller in West Lafayette.


1.  The night game environment in Ross-Ade Stadium is absolutely incredible.  I was on the field when Purdue took the fourth-quarter lead, and from the moment Jaycen Taylor crossed the goal line until Jimmy Clausen broke the fans' hearts with the game-winning touchdown pass, I've never heard anything in sports approaching the decibel level on the sideline for those few minutes.

"I've been here five years and that's as loud as I've heard it," senior cornerback Brandon King told me after the game.  "It was fun, man...definitely an experience!"

Danny Hope was certainly impressed with the "Blackout" atmosphere.  "What a great way to represent Purdue and Purdue football," the first-year coach said afterwards.  "There wasn't a better game in a better atmosphere anywhere in the country this weekend.  That's exciting and that's a step for our program as well."

Give special credit to former coach Joe Tiller, who led the traditional singing of "Shout" between the third and fourth quarters and encouraged the fans to make some noise and get back into the game.  At the time, the Boilermakers were down 17-7 and hadn't scored since the opening drive, so fans had gone almost three quarters without anything to cheer about.  That didn't matter to Tiller. 

"You can't expect your team to turn it up if you don't turn it up as fans," the school's all-time winningest coach told the crowd of 59,000+.  And they responded.  The Boilers obviously fed off the Ross-Ade momentum in scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to nearly pull off a big upset.

Senior Joe Holland relished the home-field advantage.  "I've never played in a game in Ross-Ade that was anything like that.  The fans were incredible tonight, and they really added something extra to that game.  It was too bad we couldn't win for them," the linebacker said with a sigh.
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Ohio State's Kurt Coleman Suspended, No Punishment for Illinois' Supo Sanni After Punch

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Kristofer Green

Ohio State senior safety and captain Kurt Coleman was suspended for one game today by the Big Ten Conference office. Coleman will not make the trip with the Buckeyes when they travel to Bloomington to face Indiana on Saturday.

The suspension is a result of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee in the final minutes of Saturday's 30-0 Ohio State victory over the Illini in Ohio Stadium. The Big Ten, citing a new NCAA rule requiring conferences to review flagrant personal fouls, especially those involving helmet-to-helmet contact and those that target an opponent.

The hit was absolutely late and deserved the 15 yard personal foul penalty that followed. Ohio State coaches recognized the situation and Coleman was immediately removed from the game. However, the conference felt further punishment was in order.

Ohio State officials and coach Jim Tressel couldn't agree less with the ruling.

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Handpicked Highlights: Could Indiana Jump Into Top 25?

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Tim Cary

Are the Hoosiers Top-25 worthy?  Pete DiPrimio of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel poses that question (and a bunch of others).  Indiana should get serious consideration if they win in Ann Arbor this weekend, but DiPrimio's still not saying if he would list the Hoosiers on his AP ballot next week.
Ball State v Indiana

Will Linebacker U have its linebackers?  The status of Penn State's Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman is still uncertain for Saturday's big game against Iowa.  Post-Gazette.com has the latest.

Changes for Sparty?
  Michigan State is shaking things up on the defensive side of the ball as Coach Mark Dantonio and company try to snap a two-game losing streak.

Purdue down a lineman?  The Big Ten has suspended Boilermaker offensive lineman Zach Reckman for Saturday's Notre Dame game after the incident at the end of Purdue's loss to Northern Illinois this past weekend.  In other Purdue/Notre Dame news, the Chicago Tribune examines the injury status of one James Clausen.
Michigan State v Notre Dame

Illini finally healthy?  Herald-Review.com looks at how little Illinois stars Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn have been able to get on the field at the same time...and the likelihood the duo will be 100% in Ohio Stadium Saturday.

Iowa not so healthy?  Marc Morehouse writes that Bryan Bulaga will miss another Hawkeye game, while Moeaki and DJK are still uncertain.
 
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Big Ten First Quarter Review: Four Big Ten Coaches On The Hot Seat

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Kristofer Green

Big Ten conference play will kick off on Saturday.

For many teams the start of conference play offers an opportunity to start anew after a hiccup or two in non-conference action. For others, the start of conference play has much more serious connotations.

For some coaches, the way their team performs this season in Big Ten play will go a long way to determining how secure their job will be once the season comes to an end.

For some coaches, another poor showing in a wide open Big Ten title race will only solidify the opinion of those who doubt and strengthen a case for dismissal.

These are the coaches who find themselves on the hot seat heading into the weekend's "new" season.

The coaches who must win or face the consequences.

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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: September 19

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Tim Cary

Well, a Big Ten team finally beat a Pac-10 opponent.  It was due to happen eventually, right?  After Ohio State dropped a heartbreaking three-point decision to USC, Purdue lost by two at Oregon, and Minnesota gave nationally-ranked Cal all it could handle, the Hawkeyes finally broke through to get a big win against Arizona at Kinnick Stadium.  Coach Kirk Ferentz's team is 3-0 heading into Big Ten play, with a trip to Happy Valley looming. Here's five things we learned about the Hawkeyes this weekend...


UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: IOWA 27, ARIZONA 17

1.  The first-half version of Ricky Stanzi is a long way from being a Big Ten champion-caliber quarterback. 
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi has completed less than 50% of his first-half passes for the Hawkeyes this season, which is causing no small amount of consternation in Iowa City.  Stanzi continued his trend of poor play before intermission by misfiring on 9 of his 18 attempts in the first half against Arizona.  In addition to missing wide-open receivers, Stanzi completed one pass to the other team for a first-quarter "pick six" that wasn't even close. 

Things got so bad in the opening half that an audible gasp went up from the crowd as soon as Stanzi released the ball late on one particular out route.  Since Arizona already had scored once on a poor Stanzi throw to the far sideline, it seemed that all 70,000 fans in sold-out Kinnick Stadium realized Stanzi's mistake before the ball even left his hand. 

Fortunately for the home team, the throw ended up falling harmlessly incomplete, but it basically summed up Stanzi's less-than-desirable first halves.  I've never heard such an audible reaction to a throw before it was caught/intercepted/knocked away/whatever. 

Questionable decisions...overthrows...miscues...and the only touchdown pass going to the white-shirted defender instead of the black-shirted receiver.  With the way Stanzi's first half went, the Hawkeyes were lucky to come away with a victory.  Or as Stanzi told reporters, "I threw my first pick six and I threw it in a game we won.  I guess that's kind of a good thing."
Iowa Hawkeyes v South Carolina Gamecocks
 
    
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Big Ten Late Game Final: Northwestern Stumbles at Syracuse

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Kristofer Green

SYRACUSE 37, NORTHWESTERN 34

Mike Kafka was nearly flawless. The senior quarterback was 35-of-42 for 390 yards passing with three touchdowns. But it was his one mistake, an interception with under two minutes remaining in a tied game, that proved most costly.

The Orange would kick a field goal as time expired and Pat Fitzgerald's Wildcats would fall to 2-1 on the season heading into Big Ten play. On a positive note, the performance by first year starter Kafka is a promising sign for a Northwestern team in search of playmakers.

Receivers Drake Dunsmore and Zeke Markshausen had big performances as well for the Wildcats.


Big Ten Late Afternoon Games: Spartans Lose Another Heartbreaker

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Kristofer Green

INDIANA 38, AKRON 21

Surprise, surprise. Look who is 3-0.

Ray Fisher returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for the touchdown, Ben Chappell threw two touchdown passes and Austin Thomas had two of Indiana's four interceptions as Bill Lynch's Hoosiers roll past MAC opponent Akron.

Not much was expected out the Hoosiers this season, but Lynch has his team improving each week with today's performance the best of the season. The Hoosiers may still have some trouble once the Big Ten season gets underway, but you have to like the way this team is fighting each and every week.


IOWA 27, ARIZONA 17

The Iowa defense held Arizona to just eight first downs and Big Ten co-defensive player of the week Tyler Sash got his fourth interception of the year as the Hawkeyes roll over Pac-10 foe Arizona.

Ricky Stanzi had 205 yards passing, but it was the emergence of freshman running backs Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher that will have Hawkeye fans excited heading into the showdown in Happy Valley next weekend.


NOTRE DAME 33, MICHIGAN STATE 30

With just over a minute remaining and trailing by three, Mark Dantonio calls a pass play and Kirk Cousins throws an interception to seal the victory for the Irish. The Spartans, who were in field goal position would have most likely tied the game behind the accurate leg of Brett Swenson.

The loss marks two in a row for the Spartans who become the Big Ten's second team to have 2 of their first three games (Purdue is the other.) Not a great start for a Spartan team that had high expectations coming into the season.

It won't get any easier for Sparty either. A brutal six game stretch awaits with trips to Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota as well as home dates with Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa.

Big Ten Football Early Games: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

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Tim Cary

California 35, Minnesota 21  
WHO is the "best" running back in the country (pun intended)?
California's Jahvid Best finished with 132 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns to spark the Bears to a win at TCF Bank Stadium.  Best ran for a pair of scores in the first quarter to stake Cal to an early lead, then found the end zone twice more in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Jahvid Best


Penn State 31, Temple 6

WHAT we're still trying to figure out: are the Lions this good or are their opponents that bad?
Penn State is now allowing exactly one first-half point per game after another easy non-conference win.  The Lions got 134 yards from Evan Royster on 19 carries, and if there was a champion of the "Cupcake League", Penn State would have the title sewn up already.


Northern Illinois 28, Purdue 21
WHEN Aaron Valentin fumbled not one, but two second-quarter punts, Northern Illinois was on their way to a big road win.
The visiting Huskies outscored the Boilers 21-0 in the pivotal second quarter and held on for a wild 28-21 win in Ross-Ade Stadium.


Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 17
WHERE this game was won: the Wolverine backfield.
Michigan ran for a mind-blowing 380 yards, led by Carlos Brown's 189 yards and two touchdowns, and destroyed their neighbors from Eastern Michigan.  The Wolverines outscored the visitors 21-0 in the second half to improve their record to 3-0.
Oct 13, 2007 - Michigan v Purdue


Wisconsin 44, Wofford 14

WHY the Badgers got an easy victory: Wofford only attempted seven passes all day...and still got out-gained on the ground.
Wisconsin scored four touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 31-0 halftime lead and outrushed the Terriers 257-214 despite Wofford's 55 attempts.


Ohio State 38, Toledo 0
HOW could I be so wrong about the Rockets' offense?
Ohio State came to play in Cleveland today, completely shutting down Aaron Opelt and Toledo.  Terrelle Pryor rebounded from last week's disappointing performance with three touchdown passes and 110 yards on the ground, while Opelt never got in sync.  Credit the Buckeyes' defense for a big-time performance in pitching the shutout. 


 

Handpicked Highlights: Here Come The...Longhorns?

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Tim Cary

Minnesota adds Texas to future schedule.  Don't accuse Tim Brewster of scheduling cupcakes, as Minnesota has reached agreements to play home and home with both Texas and Navy.  At least the Gophers won't play Texas and USC the same year...
Montana State Bobcats v Minnesota Golden Gophers


Breaking the Bank...then fixing it...  After a whopping one game at TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota's ready to make some changes to the gameday experience...I'm sure the fans will appreciate not standing in line for an hour every week to get inside.


Super-sizing the Twitter stream...
  Wisconsin has introduced a digital billboard to stream tweets from @BadgerFootball.  That's 22nd-century technology right there...
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Martez Wilson Will Be Missed, but Zook and the Illini Are Moving On

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Kristofer Green

Martez Wilson's neck started hurting during the spring.

Then, after delivering a punishing hit in the Missouri game, the pain spread down one arm and an MRI was scheduled. Still Wilson never imagined that it was anything more than a fairly common stinger.

For the Illinois junior linebacker, the diagnosis of a herniated disc in his neck came as a surprise. The news that he would need surgery and would miss the entire season was surely a major blow for a player that had worked so hard to get where he was.
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Handpicked Highlights: Sometimes There IS Cheering In The Press Box

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Tim Cary

There's an exception to every rule.  A blog on NYTimes.com describes the press box reaction in Ann Arbor to news of Michigan State's upset loss.


We just want to watch the game!  LakethePosts.com wonders out loud why it's so hard to get the Northwestern/Syracuse game on television.  I talked to one of the Big Ten Network staff members about a similar situation this summer (buying rights to show a conference team's road game); unfortunately, it sounds like in most cases, the payout involved isn't worth it ratings-wise.  Too bad- with all the matchups against FCS teams we get to see, it's sad when a Big Ten school plays a team from a BCS conference and it's not on television anywhere.

Begging the question, if Greg Paulus were to knock off Northwestern this weekend and nobody saw it...did it still happen?  But I digress...
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Wisconsin Badgers Come Together in Sickness and Laughter

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Kristofer Green

MADISON, Wis. -- Last week in Madison, the Wisconsin football team made the most of a sick situation. As many as 40 players were sick forcing coach Bret Bielema and his staff to make significant changes to their practice schedule.

"You know we don't usually practice on Fridays and I told the guys Thursday night because of the work we didn't get Tuesday we need to go out and practice and they didn't bat an eye," Bielema said Saturday.

The Badgers didn't complain, but instead went to work, the best they could, under less than ideal conditions.

"There were a few times you'd walk into the locker room and you'd hear some guy chucking into one of the garbage cans," said quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was ill early in the week. "You're just like, 'Well, looks like we've got one more on the flu list.' I saw it twice."

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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: September 12

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Tim Cary

What an eventful day in Big Ten football.  It began with a half dozen games kicking off at noon and it ended (for me) a little after 1:30 am ET Sunday morning when Purdue's last-ditch onside kick attempt was unsuccessful.  In between, I saw a little bit of all eleven Big Ten teams...eight of which won, bringing the league's record to 18-4...now if I can just keep all the games straight!
 

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: USC 18, OHIO STATE 15

This week's spotlight game is the USC/Ohio State clash that felt more like a bowl game than a regular-season tilt.  From the on-field cameraman getting run over by the "I-dotting" sousaphone player (wow, that was funny)... to the sparkling national championship trophy ESPN kept showing (not like it's only September or anything)...to the Ohio Stadium-record crowd (more than any Michigan game in the Horseshoe's history, which just doesn't seem right)...the night was flat-out crazy.

And then there was the game. 
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Big Ten Football: Week 2 Late Games

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Tim Cary

If your heart rate is just now returning to normal speed from one of the classic finishes in Saturday's late games, allow us to catch you up on all the other final scores you might have missed...

Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34

Tate Forcier had his coming-out party, as the Wolverines' quarterback threw for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning score to Greg Mathews with only seconds remaining.  Brandon Minor added 106 rushing yards and a TD.


Minnesota 20, Air Force 13

Although the Gophers trailed 10-3 heading into the final quarter, Tim Brewster's bunch rallied late to post a win over Air Force in the long-anticipated debut of TCF Bank Stadium.  Eric Decker (who else?) led the way with ten catches for 113 yards.
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Handpicked Highlights: Who Would Win a Usain Bolt-JoePa Race?

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Tim Cary

Paterno ready to tackle the 100-meter dash. Not only was longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno back on the sideline after spending much of last season in the press box, but he managed to run onto the field with the team before Saturday's win over Akron.  Great to see Paterno healthier and mobile, although he admitted he's not ready to challenge Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt anytime soon.
Ohio State v Penn State


Not everyone in Happy Valley is healthy.  Nittany Lions fans should be concerned about linebacker Navorro Bowman, who left the game Saturday in the first quarter with an injury.  Blogger Eric Thomas wonders out loud if the Lions would be better off to sit Bowman a week or two and let him rest for the Big Ten season.
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Carrying On About Big Ten Football: September 5

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Tim Cary

If you're like me, you're probably suffering through football overload.  After not getting to watch a single live college football game for the last eight months straight, you've seen (insert double-digit number here) in the last three days. 

We've gone from football withdrawal to football heaven...and to be honest, it's hard to keep everything straight.
Michigan State v Penn State

Let's face it.  There were 10 games Saturday involving Big Ten teams alone.  Unless you're one of the fortunate few who has seven televisions in your living room, you probably missed a few things.  Who had that highlight-reel run?  Who made the hit of the day?  What in the world did that announcer just say?

And that's where "Carrying On About" comes in: a one-stop look back at the entire Big Ten weekend.  Each Monday morning, I'll run down the greatest plays, funniest quotes, hardest hits, and craziest finishes...by listing them all in some of my favorite categories. 

Like this.
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Another Blown Opportunity: The Big Ten Fails to Impress on Opening Saturday

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Kristofer Green

The first full Saturday of Big Ten football has come to an end.


On the surface, a 10-1 record in the opening weekend seems like something that should be celebrated. A deeper look provides another story.

Unfortunately, that story is all too familiar.

Once again, the Big Ten's best teams faltered when everyone was watching. No one in the bunch posting overly impressive performances and one team who clearly cannot deal with adversity.

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Michigan's Denard Robinson runs for a touchdown as WMU's Mario Armstrong and Andy Dorcely give chase.

There were bright spots on Saturday.

Michigan's quarterback tandem of Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson were as advertised.

Purdue running back Ralph Bolden was incredible (as was coach Danny Hope's debut).

The combination of Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka and wide receiver Andrew Brewer could be special and freshman Arby Fields could make Wildcat fans forget all about Tyrell Sutton.

But the overall feeling about the first Big Ten Saturday was... meh. 

So, what happened? Let's take a closer look.

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Thursday Night Recap: We Waited All Summer For This?

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Tim Cary

The stage was set.

A Thursday night showcase.

Memorial Stadium had its facelift.

Indiana had the school's biggest home opener crowd in a dozen years.

The world was watching on the Big Ten Network.

And the result?
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Handpicked Highlights: Why Aren't The Hoosiers Celebrating?

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Tim Cary

Indiana defeated Eastern Kentucky 19-13 today in the Hoosiers' season opener.

Not that you could tell from the players', coaches', and fans' facial expressions.

If it was possible for the Big Ten's reputation to take yet another hit during a conference school's win, it did tonight.
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Ten by Ten: Can You Top Our Trio?

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Kevin Paul

College football is here and if you haven't heard already, the boys at First and Big Ten are celebrating by having a little contest on Big Ten football.

It's not too late to play - deadline for the first week is Saturday at 7am.  But since the season starts tonight with Indiana taking the field against Eastern Kentucky, we are going to post our picks now.

Here's a recap of the 10 questions for Week 1, plus our predictions:

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The Road To Recovery: A 12-Step Program For The Big Ten

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Kristofer Green

It all starts today.

The 2009 Big Ten football season will kicks off tonight when Indiana takes on Eastern Kentucky in the Hoosier's newly renovated Memorial Stadium.

(Why the Hoosiers spend $55 million to improve facilities only to sell away home games is beyond me. But that is another story.)

The Thursday night kick-off, a first for the Big Ten, will feature a pretty good FCS team against the worst team in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers are bad, but there is no way they can lose to an FCS team, right?

There was a time no one would think this game would be a challenge for any Big Ten team, but times have changed.

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Rodriguez's Hell Week Could Continue with Broncos

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Kevin Paul

Quite a week long stretch for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez , isn't it?

Just in case you're living in a bubble, let's recap some of Rich Rod's recent adventures...


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Handpicked Highlights: Is Rodriguez In Line For Kleenex Endorsement?

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Tim Cary

Michigan's Rodriguez denies accusations.  In an emotion-filled press conference today, Rich Rodriguez adamantly refuted the Detroit Free Press story that his program has broken NCAA rules governing the length and frequency of football workouts.  According to AnnArbor.com, Rodriguez said he spoke with all the seniors on his team Sunday at his home at a "very positive meeting".

(No truth to the rumor the meeting lasted six hours and exceeded NCAA limits.)
 
Michigan
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Practice Doesn't Make Perfect in Ann Arbor--The Beginning of the End for Rodriguez

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Kristofer Green

Even before the 2009 season gets underway, controversy and scandal has found its way back onto the Michigan campus.

On Saturday, Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press reported that the Wolverines have "consistently violated NCAA rules governing off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities under coach Rich Rodriguez."

According to six current or former Michigan football players, practice sessions typically exceeded limits set by the NCAA and that members of the team's quality control staff were present for off-season scrimmages, another violation.

The players, speaking on the condition on anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches and fans, revealed that the time demands negatively affected academic performance and that players were forced to sign NCAA forms stating that all rules had been followed.

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The Least We Can Do For Navy Is Applaud

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Tim Cary

By now, many of our readers have probably heard about the "Take the Field Tribute" Ohio State fans are planning for next week's home opener against Navy.  If not, Bleacher Report has the rundown, with a YouTube link included.  Buckeye fans are encouraged to stand and welcome the Midshipmen onto the Ohio Stadium field with the same cheers they normally reserve for the home team.

Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia
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A Six-Pack of Trap Games Facing Big Ten Teams in 2009

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Kevin Paul

Coaches preach to the high heavens that a team never, ever looks ahead to a big game, but instead focuses on the current opponent.

Right, and Brutus the Buckeye has a tiny head.

For every hyped up "game of the year" such as Trojans vs. Buckeyes or Ohio State and Penn State, there's a trap game lying in the weeds, ready to up and pounce on the college football world, sending shock waves far and wide.  Take the following six-pack of examples, which could serve as trap games in the Big Ten for 2009...
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Dear Rich Rod & Michigan: Three's a Crowd

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Kevin Paul

Dear Rich Rod,

There's a realization that you and your brethren in maize and blue are confident that the incoming talent is overflowing from the sideline and soon to the goal line.  Upon your slight delusions of grandeur, there's an outpouring of music humming throughout camp - perhaps it goes something like this...

Come and dance on our floor....
Take a step that is new....
We've a lovable space that needs your face,
Three's company too.


Keep whistling that tune as you push towards an opening match with Western Michigan, where you will use three quarterbacks, freshman Tate Forcier, freshman Denard Robinson, and junior Nick Sheridan.

Only, three's a crowd.  

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Three Quarterbacks? You Can't Be Serious

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Tim Cary

Excuse me, Rich Rodriguez--what did you just say?

I'm sorry, really I am...but I must not have heard you right.

It sounded like you just said your football team would play three quarterbacks next weekend against Western Michigan.
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Urban Meyer Won't Be Joining The Zooker Fan Club Anytime Soon

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Tim Cary

In the "sure to make waves" department, Florida head coach Urban Meyer was quoted today as criticizing the atmosphere around the Gators' football program under the previous coach, namely current Illini head man Ron Zook.  Meyer told David Jones of Florida Today about inheriting an "unbelievable" situation where "you don't win many games, but you beat up freshmen", and went into a great amount of detail about the way underclassmen were treated in the locker room.
FedEx BCS National Championship Game - Oklahoma v Florida
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Handpicked Highlights: Buckeyes Follow SEC's Example, Eliminate 21st-Century Technology

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Tim Cary

Good luck trying to reach Terrelle Pryor by cell phone.  The Columbus Dispatch explains how the Buckeyes have been trying to eliminate distractions this week in camp, with the seniors deciding to confiscate all electronic devices (at the "suggestion" of the coaching staff).

Michigan State relying on solid group of linebackers.  By now, you've heard of Greg Jones, the media's pick for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, but what about the rest of MSU's linebackers?  David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press provides some more insight into what could be one of the best linebacking units in school history. (h/t, Enlightened Spartan)
CFB: Michigan St vs Michigan OCT 25
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Big Ten Football Preview: Team Themes That Are Music to My Ears

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Kevin Paul

Each season, a team earns a clean slate, and 2009 will be no different.  Whether a program likes it or not, everyone earns a reputation and a theme even before the season begins.

Call it a Big Ten preview set to music - featuring all eleven schools - and the theme song each should have blasting over the loudspeakers in the locker room this week...
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Football is Coming, So Get Up and Make Some Noise Already!

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Kevin Paul

Put on that game face.  Football is coming.

I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

Aren't you in pain from a summer of So You Think You Can Dance and America's Got Talent?  Sure you are, but quit crying over that open wound left from excessive Gosselin gossip.  

RUB SOME DIRT ON IT.

College football is just a hair over two weeks away - a stone's throw from a heck of an opener between #14 Oregon and #16 Boise State - on the "Smurf Turf".  If the coma-inducing jerseys and field aren't enough, just look at the talent and implications of game one, as the Ducks could easily challenge USC for the Pac-10, while the Broncos could be this year's BCS darling.  Heck, one dream alone can be crushed before the opening weekend.

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Handpicked Highlights: Yes, There Is Sports News Outside Brett Favre

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Tim Cary

We briefly pause the 24-7 news cycle of Brett Favre's whirlwind 19th unretirement to remind our readers that, yes, while it may be hard to believe, there's still sports news happening in other places.

Like the Big Ten, for instance.


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Handpicked Highlights: Penn State Loses Linebacker

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Tim Cary

Mauti done for season?  This PennStateClips.com article mentions a knee injury to linebacker Mike Mauti, a sophomore for the Nittany Lions.  If the injury is as serious as it appears, the Lions could be without Mauti for the entire year.
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Breaking News: Wisconsin Suspends Pair of Safeties

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Tim Cary

BadgerBeat.com reported this morning that Wisconsin senior safeties Aubrey Pleasant and Shane Carter have been suspended indefinitely by coach Bret Bielema.  Bad news for the Badgers, as any time a team loses the services of two players at the same position, depth become an instant concern. 

No further details were released by the team, and according to David Kmiecick of NBC 15 in Madison, Bielema declined to explain the reason for the suspension after today's practice. 
Wisconsin v MichiganWisconsin Badgers v Michigan State Spartans
In other news around the Big Ten...
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Handpicked Highlights: Not All Spartans Happy To Have Winston Back

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Tim Cary

Michigan State hockey player releases statement about Glenn Winston.  A.J. Sturges released a statement this week, harshly criticizing the university for reinstating running back Glenn Winston to the football team.  Sturges missed the 2008-09 hockey season with injuries that he claimed resulted from Winston's attack.  The Detroit Free Press has the story and the statement.
CFB: Michigan St vs Northwestern OCT 11
Small, Rose attend Buckeyes practice, Boren injured.
  The same day that Ohio State's football team regained the services of Ray Small and Robert Rose, the Buckeyes lost Justin Boren to a knee injury.  The Columbus Dispatch reports that Boren will miss several weeks, but the injury isn't considered to be too serious.
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Yes, Ohio State Can Beat USC

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Kevin Paul

One of the most hyped up games of the upcoming college football season is now just less than a month away.

Yes, football fans, grab those foam fingers, wash that jersey, and fill that fridge with cold ones, because Ohio State and USC are meeting at "The 'Shoe" on September 12th.

While many prognosticators see the Trojans rolling through Columbus with reckless abandon, this writer sees it a little differently - and there are a few reasons why Ohio State knocking off the Trojans isn't such a far-fetched idea...

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Handpicked Highlights: Iowa Loses Bernstine For 2009 Season

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Tim Cary

Iowa DB Jordan Bernstine out for year with broken ankle.  The Des Moines Register has the details on a big setback for the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes' defense. 

Remember the Alamo?
  ESPN's Adam Rittenberg speculates that the Houston-based Texas Bowl could replace the Alamo as a Big Ten partner when the San Antonio game's contract expires this winter.  Seems like a step down to me--of course, that may be because last year's Texas Bowl was a barn-burner between national powers like Western Michigan and Rice.  Ouch.  At least the Texas Bowl is moving to ESPN this season, since it was carried the last three years by NFL Network (begging the question: If a college football game airs on NFL Network and nobody sees it, did it still happen?).
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Former Ohio State Punter A.J. Trapasso Wows in NFL Hall of Fame Game

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Kristofer Green

Forgive me if you have seen this a million times, but it is absurdly entertaining and you should watch it again.

During the NFL's preseason kickoff Hall of Fame game last week, former Ohio State punter A.J. Trapasso (and the Tennessee Titans punt team) executed a perfect, "statue of liberty-esque", behind-the-back fake punt.

Take a look for yourself...


Insane right?

But it was nothing new for Trapasso, who also ran the fake as a Buckeye in 2008 against Northwestern and in 2007 against Minnesota.
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A Big Ten Football Tribute to John Hughes and his Movies

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Kevin Paul

John Hughes was a genius, a one of a kind talent who blessed the world with comedic gems such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, National Lampoon's Vacation, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Mr. Mom, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Home Alone, Uncle Buck and more.

Sadly, Hughes left the world prematurely after dying of a heart attack at age 59 just a few short days ago.  The writer/producer/director had ties with the city of Chicago, and the people who lived there loved him like they love deep dish pizza, the Wrigley Field ivy, Ozzie Guillen's potty mouth and Big Ten football.

That's where this piece comes in - to provide a Big Ten football tribute to the passing of John Hughes, by providing a list of famous quotes from many of his movies, and providing the Big Ten football personality that fits the quote the most...
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Handpicked Highlights: Don't Tweet From the Stadium!

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Tim Cary

Today's edition of Handpicked Highlights covers college football from one extreme of the social media landscape to the other.  We'll start with the good.


Penn State launches new football website.  The new online home of Nittany Lion football, GOPSF.com, features interactive content galore, including links to Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. 
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Handpicked Highlights: August 8

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Tim Cary

If you need a few stories and links to get you through one of the last Saturdays without football, FBT has you covered.

Without further ado...

Tim Brewster doesn't want his players getting too comfortable.  This Star Tribune story quotes the Gophers' coach as saying, "I want our quarterback...to know he is the guy.  Across the board, the rest of our team, I want them to feel like they're walking on eggshells a little bit, knowing every day you have to compete your butt off to win a place on this team."
CFB: Minnesota vs Purdue OCT 25
Nice sentiments...although we're assuming Eric Decker can feel relatively secure about his starting position too.  Just saying...


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11 Stadiums in 11 Weeks: Four Big Ten Fans Plan Trip Of A Lifetime

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Tim Cary

Diehard Big Ten fans should forgive sports nut Drew Cieszynski for never having visited even one of the conference's eleven football stadiums.  After all, he's been rather busy.

In the past three years, Cieszynski has managed to see every major league baseball team...

...and every NBA basketball team...

...and perhaps most remarkably, he still has a job.
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Will Greg Paulus Continue To Dominate Big Ten Schools In 2009?

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Tim Cary

Without question, the most famous member of Syracuse University's 2009 football team is the third-string quarterback.  Of course, this isn't any ordinary third-string quarterback we're talking about.

This is Greg Paulus.

The same Greg Paulus who started 100 games at point guard for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team.

The Greg Paulus who was widely considered the best high school quarterback (if not the best high school football player period) in the country five short years ago.
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Big Ten Football: The Weak Spots

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Kevin Paul

Take a look around - it's true.  Look at Jon Gosselin's love life, Lindsay Lohan's driving record, or Kevin Federline's waistline.

Nobody's perfect.

The Big Ten is no different as the 2009 football season steadily approaches.  On one end, there's a Buckeyes team that owns a share of the Big Ten title over the last four seasons.  On the other, an Indiana team, who according to head coach Bill Lynch, spent time traveling to sororities and fraternities attempting to find ways to get more students to attend football games.

But as a whole, each team in the Big Ten is similar.  Each has its Achilles' heel - some more than others.  Here's what could end up hurting each team's chances in 2009:
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Doak Walker Snub or Penn State Mistake?

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Kristofer Green

Evan Royster's absence from the Doak Walker Award watch list was not an oversight by the award committee. Turns out the fine folks at the Doak Walker Award didn't make a mistake at all.

You can blame this one on Penn State football staffers.

Royster, the Big Ten's leading returning rusher, was not nominated for the award by his school and the committee had no choice but to leave his name off.

Kevin McGuire of Examiner.com reports:

"The initial list that has been released is actually a non-traditional list of players nominated by the universities. After hearing from Jeff Lockhart, Manager of Athletic Forum and Programs at Guaranty Bank SMU Athletic Forum, and one of the contacts for the Doak Walker Award, tells me that Penn State has not yet nominated Royster for the award."

The watch list that was released on August 4 was not a traditional watch list, but simply a list of candidates nominated by their respective universities as of August 4, 2009. Royster 's omission will not negatively affect his chance to win the award.

Doak Walker Watch List Includes Three From Big Ten, Royster Snubbed

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Kristofer Green

The Doak Walker Award for college football's best running back has released it's 2009 watch list and three Big Ten runners are among the 45.

Wisconsin's John Clay, Ohio State's Dan Herron, and Michigan's Brandon Minor made the cut and are expected to have huge season's for their respective teams. That being said, none of those backs have accomplished what Penn State's Evan Royster has and his absence from the list is shameless.

Royster, the Big Ten's leading returning rusher, finished fourth in rushing behind 2008 Doak Walker winner Shonn Greene, Doak Walker finalist Javon Ringer, and Chris "Beanie" Wells. Royster himself was named a Doak Walker semifinalist last November.

First and Big Ten is following up with the Doak Walker committee to determine if this was an oversight. Stay tuned as we follow this throughout the day.

Royster had 1,236 yards and 12 touchdowns last season as a sophomore for Penn State.

Handpicked Highlights: August 3

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Tim Cary

It's been a busy day in Big Ten news, and with that, we introduce Handpicked Highlights, a roundup of the biggest and best stories around the conference.

1.  O'Brien Watch List released.  The 2009 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award honors the nation's best quarterback, and the selection committee has released 33 names of players to watch for "quarterback skills and athletic ability, academics, reputation as a team player, character, leadership, and sportsmanship."
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O'Brien Award Watch List Includes Four From Big Ten

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Kristofer Green

You can tell the season is almost upon us when the annual post-season awards start announcing their watch lists. On Monday, the Davey O'Brien Award released the names of 33 signal callers who have made the first cut and four Big Ten quarterbacks are among those listed.

It should come as no surprise that Daryll Clark (Penn State) and Juice Williams (Ilinois) made the cut. Both had impressive numbers last season and are expected to have repeat performances this year.

Adam Weber (Minnesota) is an excellent passer and should put up big numbers as well. He does have Eric Decker to throw the ball to, after all.

The inclusion of Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State) is somewhat surprising. Pryor was named the Big Ten's preseason offensive player of the year and he is expected to lead the Buckeyes to a fifth consecutive Big Ten title, but there are still questions marks surrounding the young player.

Most surprising was that Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) was ommitted. After a slow start, Stanzi had the Hawkeyes clicking on all cylindars by the end of the season.

Semifinalists for the O'Brien Award will be announced Oct. 26 and finalists named Nov. 23. The winner will be revealed Dec. 10 during ESPN's college football awards show.

Can You Even Name the Mascot? Five Worst Non-Conference Games of 2009

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Tim Cary

I understand that not every non-conference game can be quite as riveting as the looming September showdown between Ohio State and USC at the Horseshoe.  Really, I get it.  

Some games just can't quite hope to compare to a titanic struggle between top-flight teams from two Rose Bowl/BCS conferences.   

Some matchups aren't destined to showcase a pair of eventual double-digit win squads on national television.

Some games on the 2009 schedule are even (gasp!) scheduled simply to be an easy win for a Big Ten team and an easy paycheck for Mid-Major U.  
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