Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin all took care of their respective business this week by posting convincing wins to solidify their positions as to the teams to beat in the Big Ten this year.
Penn State took a momentary step back as they lost to Alabama 24-3 on the road. The Nittany Lions at the end of the season may become a stronger team as a result of measuring themselves against the Tide and now having an understanding what they need to do to get to the next level.
The most impressive performance of the week belonged to Michigan super sophomore Denard Robinson who broke several records on his way to breaking the hearts of Notre Dame fans in the Wolverines 28-24 win. While Robinson may not have been on the minds of Heisman voters when the season started he now appears to be firmly entrenched in the conversation.
Overall it was a fairly good week for the Big Ten as the conference went 8-2 and suffered only one really bad loss this week which is where we begin with our power rankings for the week.
11. Minnesota—Disaster strikes as Gophers fall to Coyotes
The Gophers lost to 41-38 to FCS school South Dakota in a game that was supposed to be a tune-up before they locked horns with USC. Coyote Quarterback Dante Warren in his second game as a starter shredded Minnesota’s defense. Warren completed 21 of 30 his passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns; he also had 81 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Coach Tim Brewster summed up the mood of Gopher fans in expressing his feelings after the game. “The depth of my disappointment right now, you cannot measure it,” said Brewster. “I don’t want to discredit South Dakota in any way...but it certainly is an unacceptable loss on our part.”
The Gophers fall two spots in the power rankings and barring a miraculous turn around will likely stay in the basement for the rest of the season.
10. Illinois—Ron Zook rights the ship against the Salukis
The Illini played a solid game against Southern Illinois beating the Salukis 35-3. Illini Redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase bounced back nicely from his three interception performance against Missouri by finishing with 229 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and 14 of 18 passing.
The Illini defense also played well holding Southern Illinois to only 46 rushing yards and 230 total yards. How good was the Illini defense? The Salukis started drives at the Illinois 40, 20, and 17 after a pair of interceptions by backup quarterback Eddie McGee and a fumbled punt return by Jack Ramsey but Southern Illinois could only manage a 30 yard field goal.
9. Purdue—Purdue Win Appears Costly as Keith Smith Appears Lost for the Season
The Boilermakers defeated Western Illinois 31-21 and while the score indicates that the game was close, the Leathernecks never really threatened Purdue. Defensive End Ryan Kerrigan had an outstanding game recording a career high 12 tackles with four of the tackles for loss. Kerrigan also had a sack and forced a fumble. Senior Dan Dierking had the best day of his Purdue career running the ball as he had 102 yards and a touchdown. The win for Purdue however may have come at a significant cost as Purdue’s leading receiver from last year, Keith Smith, left the game with a knee injury which appears to be a torn ACL.
8. Indiana—Hoosiers Get Ready to Take on Western Kentucky
Indiana was idle so they stay put in the eighth spot in power rankings.
7. Northwestern—Wildcats steam roll Illinois State 37-3
Quarterback Dan Persa appears to be firmly in his element running the Wildcat offense. Persa connected on 19 of his 23 passes, threw for 240 yards, and two touchdowns. Persa also had a rushing touchdown for good measure. TE Drake Dunsmore, a John Mackey Candidate, appears to be emerging as Persa’s favorite in the red zone as Dunsmore now has three touchdown catches on the season. Northwestern took early control of the game scoring on their first three possessions of the game and staking an early 30-3 lead at halftime.
6. Penn State—Nittany Lions Experience Growing Pain in 24-3 Loss to Alabama
Penn State did not play poorly but they didn’t really play to the level of an elite team on the road in Tuscaloosa. Freshman quarterback Rob Bolden made some nice plays but he threw several ill-advised passes when the Tide dialed up blitzes and was fortunate to have only suffered two interceptions. Penn State’s receivers didn’t help their young quarterback by dropping several passes. The Nittany Lions should be able to work out the kinks in their passing attack the next two weeks at home against Kent State and Temple.
5. Michigan—Denard Robinson Puts on a Show in South Bend in 28-24 Win
Denard Robinson’s performance against Notre Dame was simply historic. Robinson broke Michigan’s single game record for total offense for a quarterback with 502 yards. Robinson ended the day with 258 rushing yards, 244 passing yards and three touchdowns. Denard’s 87 yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest run from scrimmage in South Bend. Robinson left no doubt that South Bend was his neighborhood by finishing the 12 play 72 yard game winning drive with a 2 yard dash into the end zone with 27 seconds left in the game. Why isn’t Michigan ranked higher? Possibly Michigan deserves better but I recall that the Wolverines started 4-0 last year on their way to a 5-7 season.
4. Michigan State—Spartans win Road Game in Detroit against Florida Atlantic
Michigan State wore their road white uniforms for their game against Florida Atlantic at Ford Field. The Spartans won 30-17 and controlled the game from the opening kickoff to the end of the game never allowing Florida Atlantic to get closer than 13 points in the second half. Not all the news concerning the Spartans was good out of Detroit. Troubling statistics for Michigan State fans—the Spartans converted only 14 percent on third down whereas Florida Atlantic converted on third and fourth down 50 percent of the time. If Michigan State doesn’t improve upon staying on the field and in getting off the field on third down once Big Ten seasons starts, the Spartans will have a very tough time getting to a bowl game. The Spartans will get their first real test of the season when they host Notre Dame this week.
3. Wisconsin—Badgers manhandle San Jose State 27-14
Reigning Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year John Clay appears to be picking up where he left off from last year as he rushed for 137 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. The Badgers are 2-0 and have never trailed their opponents at any point in time in the season. If there is any reason to be concerned in Madison it is because the Badgers have committed four turnovers while their defense has taken the ball away from their opponents only three times.
2. Iowa—Hawkeyes run roughshod over Cyclones 35-7
Iowa’s defense has played outstanding ball this season and against the Cyclones only allowed a touchdown in garbage time in the fourth quarter. Of course, no one is surprised at how well Iowa’s defense has played given the number of returning defensive players from last year. What is surprising is how efficient Iowa has been on offense. Iowa ran the ball 50 times against Iowa State on their way to grinding out 275 yards on the ground. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has been nearly flawless this season with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Iowa has a tough road game next week when they travel to Arizona.
1. Ohio State—Buckeyes take care of No. 12 Miami, 36-24
Terrelle Pryor had a good day running as he rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown; Pryor also threw a touchdown as well as connected on 12 of 27 passes for 233 passing yards.
The most impressive statistic for the Buckeyes quarterback however may have been the fact is that he had no interceptions whereas his counterpart Jacroy Harris threw four interceptions on the day.
"When you can create four takeaways, you're going to have a chance," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "And when you have zero giveaways, you're going to have a real good chance."
Ohio State could have cruised to a 20 plus point victory if they had been able to make a few more tackles on special teams as it was the first time in 121 years of Ohio State football that the Buckeyes surrendered a touchdown on punt and kickoff returns in the same game.