First and Big Ten

Twice As Nice Archives

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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Eddie McGee Experiment Ends Early In Champaign

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Tim Cary

Illinois replaced Eddie McGee at quarterback with former starter Juice Williams early in the third quarter after two horrible drives, one of which ended with a Danny Fortener interception and touchdown return.  When Williams entered the game, the Illini trailed 24-0.  The senior has sparked the Illinois offense to some extent, as the home team finally got on the board with a touchdown late in the third quarter.

With 15 minutes to play at Memorial Stadium, the Michigan State Spartans still lead 24-7.

Halftime In Champaign: Michigan State On Top 17-0

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Tim Cary

The much-discussed Illinois quarterback change hasn't accomplished anything yet for Coach Ron Zook, as his Illini trail 17-0 at halftime of today's Homecoming contest.  The margin could be even more lopsided, but Michigan State running back Glenn Winston fumbled at the Illinois 1-yard line and the home team recovered.

The Spartans have rolled up 281 yards of offense in the first half, compared to only 58 for the Illini.  Michigan State's usual starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, hasn't played a snap yet, and only time will tell if Illinois star Juice Williams will get a shot in the second half or if Zook sticks with Eddie McGee, who's gone the distance so far.

One injury note: Winston is out for at least the second half after sustaining an injury on the Spartans' last drive.  Look for Larry Caper to pick up a few more snaps, with Caulton Ray working in to the mix more as well. 

Michigan State Spoiling Illinois Homecoming So Far

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Tim Cary

The visiting Michigan State Spartans are out to a quick 14-0 lead after fifteen minutes of play in Champaign.  With starter Kirk Cousins still battling an ankle injury, Keith Nichol has led MSU on back-to-back scoring drives to quiet the Homecoming crowd at Memorial Stadium.

As the first quarter ended, Illinois had finally mounted a solid drive, and Ron Zook's crew faces an important third-down play to start the second quarter.  Can Eddie McGee make something positive happen for the Illini?

Kickoff Only Minutes Away In Illinois

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Tim Cary

The marching band is performing their pregame show, the stands are filling with orange-clad Illini fans, the F-16s have performed their flyover, and kickoff of the Michigan State/Illinois game is only a few minutes away here in Champaign.

After all the talk about nasty weather in Big Ten country, it's an incredibly beautiful day at Memorial Stadium.  The sun is shining brightly, and neither team will have any weather issues to complain about other than, perhaps, "I lost the ball in the sun!"

Obvious storylines here: Eddie McGee is making his first start for the home team, while Michigan State is trying to build on the momentum of last week's overtime win against the Wolverines.

Stay tuned to FirstandBigTen.com for the latest updates from Champaign!


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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Pat Fitzgerald Taking Northwestern Wildcats To Finishing School

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Kristofer Green

Evanston, Illinois--Once again the Wildcats were in position to win the game.

Northwestern, led by quarterback Mike Kafka, battled in the third quarter to come back from an 11 point deficit to lead 24-21 at the end of the quarter.

But the Wildcats couldn't hang on, allowing Adam Weber to connect for two fourth quarter touchdowns: the first coming off a 13 play, 83 yard drive that lasted over six minutes and the other coming off another late game Kafka turnover.

"I've got to give Minnesota credit," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said after the game. "We had the lead going into the fourth quarter, you've got the game at home, and you've got to put it away, obviously we didn't do that and there'll be a lot we look back on in that fourth quarter where we had a chance to get the job done."

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Notre Dame Dominating, Purdue Driving

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Tim Cary

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA-- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish ran 21 of the first 25 plays in the third quarter, but the scoreboard didn't change during the fifteen minutes of play.  Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan made an important sack of Notre Dame backup quarterback Dayne Crist on fourth down to end a long Irish drive. 

As the quarter ended, Purdue was finally moving the ball on offense, thanks to possession receiver Keith Smith.  The senior wideout has 8 catches for 117 yards, and Purdue has the ball in the red zone with 15 minutes to play, still trailing by ten points.

Irish Take Control, Lead Purdue 17-7 At Half

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Tim Cary

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA-- Notre Dame replaced Jimmy Clausen for two second-quarter series, and backup Dayne Crist engineered back-to-back scoring drives to spark the Irish to a 21-17 lead.  Purdue had no answer for the Irish on the ground, especially the "Wild-Irish" formation (okay, so I named that myself...could you tell?), run by wide receiver Golden Tate.

When Clausen came back on the field, the Irish offense immediately began to stall again, and Notre Dame finished the half with a 3-and-out and a Clausen interception.

Purdue's offense hasn't been able to put together a long drive since the first few minutes of the game, and the Boilermakers don't have the patience to get running back Ralph Bolden involved on a consistent basis while trailing by multiple possessions.

The teams are in the locker room now with the Irish on top 17-7.  Check back to FirstandBigTen.com for second-half action!

Boilermakers' Adrenaline Helping...And Hurting

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Tim Cary

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA- At the end of the first quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium, the Purdue Boilermakers lead Notre Dame 7-3.  The home team struck first with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Joey Elliott to Aaron Valentin on the opening drive, but Notre Dame battled back, getting on the board with a 34-yard field goal from Nick Tausch.

The atmosphere, as expected, has been electric, but the Boilermakers are also taking the adrenaline overboard a bit.  Purdue has been flagged 5 times for 45 yards after coming into the evening one of college football's least-penalized teams.  The most costly penalty was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call against defensive captain Mike Neal after Purdue had stopped an Irish drive with a 3rd-and-6 sack.


Blackout Brewing In Ross-Ade Stadium

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Tim Cary

WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA -- Purdue University has encouraged fans to wear black to all home games for a few years now, but the Boilermakers are pulling out the stops for the rare night game that will kick off here at 8:00 pm ET.

Both end zones have been repainted so the word "PURDUE" is spelled out in black letters, and the Boilermakers will wear all-black jerseys (shirts and pants both) for the first time since 2006 (if memory serves correctly).

Although kickoff is still an hour away, the student section is filling up, and it's obvious at least one quarter of the stadium will be wearing all black. 

The big mystery here at Ross-Ade Stadium is how healthy the visiting Irish really are.  Running back Armando Allen is supposed to be a game-time decision, and while Jimmy Clausen (turf toe) is expected to start at quarterback, everyone will be watching intently to see how well Clausen is really feeling.  Obviously, wide receiver Michael Floyd is out for the year (collarbone). 

Kickoff in about sixty minutes...should be electric!  Check back to FirstandBigTen.com for updates throughout the night!

Ohio State v Purdue

Second quarter updates from Northwestern vs. Minnesota

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Kristofer Green

Evanston, IL--Minnesota receiver Eric Decker has five catches for 63 yards in the first half, but the Wildcats are not allowing much of anything from anyone else. Both Minnesota touchdowns were scored by Duane Bennett, who has 17 yards on five carries for the Gophers.

Northwestern has dinked and dunked its way to 10 points and looked to add another score with time running out in the first half. Then deja vu struck and Kafka's pass was intercepted at the goal line by Minnesota's Kim Royston.

Second half is coming up with the Gophers leading the Wildcats at Ryan Field 14-10.

Offenses flash then stall in Evanston

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Kristofer Green

Evanston, IL--Just like that. In just over two minutes the Minnesota offense were on the board. After a beautiful pass from Adam Weber to Eric Decker out the Gophers on the one yard line, Duane Bennett plunged for the touchdown on the next play.

Then, the Wildcats went on a 19 play, 76 yard drive that ate 8:46 off the clock. A holding penalty forced the 'Cats from an thrid and one to a third and 11 and Kafka hit Jacob Schmidt who muscled his way for eight yards. But the 'Cats would have to settle for a field goal.

There would be no more scoring as both teams forced three and outs on their next possessions.

7-3 Minnesota at the end of the first quarter.

Live From Evanston for Minnesota vs. Northwestern

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Kristofer Green

Evanston, IL--The sun has started to peek out of what had mostly been an overcast moring here in Evanston.

The Gophers and the Wildcats are about to kickoff in what should be an exciting match-up to start the Big Ten day.

As the Northwestern Band plays their pre-game performance let's take a look at some keys for both teams in today's match-up.

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Twice As Nice: FBT On Location In TWO Different Stadiums Saturday!

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Tim Cary

Football fans, are you ready?

We're excited to announce that gameday coverage on FirstandBigTen.com tomorrow is better than ever!  That's because FBT writers will be in not one, but two different Big Ten stadiums to bring you all the action from the press box...er, press boxes.

The "Twice as Nice" event kicks off at noon with Kristofer Green reporting from Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois, as KG checks out the battle between the Gophers and the Wildcats.  Check FirstandBigTen.com for updates between quarters, descriptions of the gameday experience, and other random tidbits from Evanston!
CFB: Purdue vs Northwestern OCT 18

That's not all, though, as FBT's Tim Cary will be in Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday night for the big "Blackout" game between the Purdue Boilermakers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Since Ross-Ade doesn't have permanent lights, prime-time showdowns are rare in West Lafayette, and FirstandBigTen.com will have all the coverage of the huge game at Purdue.
CFB: Minnesota vs Purdue OCT 25

One day, two games: look for pregame notes, in-game updates, interviews, and of course, a bunch of feature stories coming in the next week!

On top of all the "Twice as Nice" action at FirstandBigTen.com, remember that you can always check our Twitter account at @FirstandBigTen for score updates from all over Big Ten country. 

Is it gameday yet?


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