Are Scott Tolzien and Badgers for real?
This weekend, the Big Ten went up against the Mid-American Conference and the script went pretty much as expected. The Big Ten went 8-2, with only Minnesota and Purdue falling to their MAC opponents.
As Big Ten play begins this week, Purdue catches a break with a bye to hopefully get healthy before diving back into play against Northwestern the following week.
11. Minnesota (1-3)
Gopher Coach Tim Brewster heard it from the fans as they chanted “Fire Brewster,” during the Gophers' 34-23 loss to Northern Illinois. The Gopher run defense was pathetic as they could not stop Chadd Spann, who rumbled for two touchdowns and 223 yards on 15 carries.
Minnesota didn’t have much luck when the Huskies handed the ball to someone other than Spann either, as Northern Illinois averaged an eye-popping 10.6 yards a carry on the 28 times they ran the ball.
Earlier in the week, Coach Brewster suspended wide receiver Troy Stoudermire for conduct detrimental to the team and with this most recent loss, it seems he may be losing control of his team.
Next up – Northwestern at home. Can the Gophers stop Northwestern’s quarterback Dan Persa?
10. Purdue (2-2)
The Toledo Rockets came into the game at West Lafayette ranked last in the nation in total offense. However, Toledo figured some things out against Purdue as they generated 378 yards of total offense in beating the Boilermakers 31-20.
Purdue’s quarterback Robert Marve left the game early for the second straight week with a knee injury. Marve is scheduled to have an MRI on his knee on Monday; he previously tore his ACL on the same knee.
Marve’s substitute, Rob Henry, was inconsistent in throwing the ball, making Purdue’s offensive game one dimensional. Henry threw an ill-advised pass in the fourth quarter, sealing Purdue's fate with the subsequent interception.
Next up – Idle. Hopefully Purdue can get healthy with the time off.
9. Illinois (2-1)
The Illini had the week off.
Next up - Ohio State at home. This could get ugly—last year the Buckeyes won 30-0 and they appear to be a better team this year.
8. Indiana (3-0)
Indiana assumed control of the game against Akron early, taking its opening drive for a touchdown and was never really threatened in its 35-20 win over the Zips.
Indiana Quarterback Ben Chappell had a monster day leading the Hoosiers. Chappell connected on 22 of his 33 passes, threw for 342 passing yards, and found his receivers for four touchdowns.
Thus far, the three opponents Indiana has played this season are a combined 1-11, so we still don’t really know how good Indiana is at this point.
Next up – Michigan at home. Indiana's first real test comes against the Wolverines.
7. Northwestern (4-0)
Northwestern hung on to beat Central Michigan 30-25 after taking a 30-13 lead early into the fourth quarter. If the Chippewas had recovered their onside kick with 1:11 left in the fourth, the game in Evanston could have gotten very interesting.
Quarterback Dan Persa threw his first interception on the season, but continues to be impressive as he has connected on 85 of his 106 passes for a total of 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns.
However, coach Pat Fitzgerald must have some concerns about his team's running game, as Northwestern only has 599 yards on the ground and is averaging just 3.2 yards a carry.
Next up – Travel to Minnesota. Persa should have a good day as the Gophers have struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks.
6. No. 21 Penn State (3-1)
As expected, the Nittany Lions struggled early against Temple but came back to spoil the Owls' upset bid 22-13. Penn State scored its only touchdown with 3:35 left in the game.
Hall of Fame Coach Joe Paterno said it best about Temple's performance, reflecting, “I think they’re doing a great job...Two or three plays, and Temple wins that game.”
Running back Evan Royster finally found a little daylight to run as he rushed for 187 yards on 26 carries, and his longest run went for 50 yards.
Quarterback Rob Bolden continues to mature, as he made good decision after good decision throughout the game and had his first turnover-free game of the season.
Next up – Penn State travels to Iowa. Bolden needs to play turnover-free ball again if the Nittany Lions are going to upset the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
5. No. 17 Iowa (3-1)
After last week's loss, the Hawkeyes rebounded nicely with a 45-0 victory over Ball State. The vaunted Iowa defense flexed its muscles holding the Cardinals to just 112 yards of total offense and eight first downs.
Defensive Lineman Michael “the Beast” Daniels had several tackles for losses as he was able to consistently and quickly beat his man to get into the Ball State backfield.
Freshmen Brad Rogers and Marcus Coker did a nice job running the ball, backing up Adam Robinson and giving Iowa fans reason to hope that they have enough depth at the position, despite the loss of Jewel Hampton to injury last week.
Next up – Host Penn State. The Hawkeyes defensive front line will be looking to put constant pressure on Penn State's quarterback, redshirt freshman Rob Bolden.
4. No. 20 Michigan State (4-0)
The Spartans put ‘D’ on their helmets to honor their coach, Mike Dantonio, who suffered a mild heart attack after last week’s overtime game against Notre Dame. Michigan State was never threatened as they scored the game’s first 38 points on their way to a 45-7 win over Northern Colorado.
The Spartans rushed for over 200 yards for the fourth consecutive game. Freshman running back Le’Veon Bell has seven touchdowns on the season and is averaging 8.3 yards a carry.
Next up – Host Wisconsin. Bell versus Wisconsin RB Clay will likely make this the Big Ten game of the week.
3. No. 19 Michigan (4-0)
Michigan’s offense continued to post huge numbers as the Wolverines had 721 yards of total offense.
Denard Robinson was again impressive as he had two rushing touchdowns and 129 yards on just five carries. Robinson was also 4 for 4 with 60 passing yards. Robinson suffered a minor knee injury but it doesn’t appear that the injury will keep him from starting next week.
Last year’s starter, Tate Forcier, relieved Robinson and promptly went 12 for 12 with 110 passing yards. There has been much speculation that Forcier would transfer with the emergence of Robinson at quarterback.
When asked about his future plans, Forcier said, “I’m not going to leave—not a chance. I love Coach Rod. I love these fans. I love Michigan football.”
Next up – Travel to Indiana. Michigan will put up numbers, but the real question is how the Wolverine defense will play against an experienced quarterback in Ben Chappell?
2. Wisconsin (4-0)
Wisconsin scored on each of its seven possessions in the first half, racing out to a 49-3 lead. When it was over, the Badgers would win 70-3 and set a school record with its 67-point margin of victory over Austin Peay.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien had his best game of the year, going 15 for 17 with 218 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The Badgers also got a big day out of freshman running back James White, who scampered for 145 yards and four touchdowns. John Clay continued his streak of consecutive 100-yard games, rushing for a total of 117 yards.
Wisconsin impressed pollsters with its performance this week but not enough to pass Ohio State.
Next up – Travel to Michigan State. If the Badgers are to win on the road, QB Tolzien needs to be effective against the Spartans.
1. Ohio State (4-0)
The Buckeyes embarrassed Eastern Michigan 73-20 and in the process put quite a bit of distance between themselves and Boise State, receiving two first-place votes in both the AP and USA Today polls.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has 13 touchdowns on the season and appears to be much more comfortable this year in the pocket, as his quarterback rating of 167 attests.
Next up – Travel to Illinois. Ohio State must avoid getting complacent.