Big Ten Round-Up: Week Three

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer ISeptember 11, 2008

It’s week three of the college football season and the Big Ten has four of the most high-profile games of the week. 
Michigan head coach, Rich Rodriguez, will get his first taste of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry; Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin Badgers will travel west to face Fresno State;  Joe Tiller and the Boilermakers will take on the nation’s top ranked offense when Oregon comes to West Lafayette, and The Ohio State Buckeyes will appear in the week’s, possibly the years most marquee match-up when they face the USC Trojans in L.A.
With the full slate of important non-conference games the Big Ten needs a strong showing to help repair the conferences sagging reputation.  No one knows how high the stakes are better than the Big Ten coaches, as The New York Times’ Mike Ogle writes in the Quad Blog.

Ron Zook and Co. have displayed their offensive firepower in the first two games, scoring 89 points.  Juice Williams is proving he can pass the ball with authority and Daniel Dufrene is filling in nicely for departed running back and current Pittsburgh Steeler Rashard Mendenhall.
Defensively, the Illini need to step it up.  Illinois has allowed 63 points in their first two games. Though Missouri may be one of the best offenses in the country, allowing FCS school Eastern Illinois to score 21 must be a concern.
This week the Illini will host the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Memorial Stadium.  Coach Zook will look for a strong performance from the Illini defense as they prepare for the start of the Big Ten season.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a good preview of the match-up.
After the football game, fans can head over to Assembly Hall to see a Night of Illini Basketball Legends.  The basketball exhibition will feature an alumni game with some of the greatest stars in Illinois basketball history.  Steve Porter at The Telegraph has more details.

The Hoosier’s have started the season with decisive wins over Western Michigan and Murray State and will have a bye this week as they prepare for Ball State next weekend.
Though the Hoosiers did have a successful 2007 outing resulting in their first bowl trip in eons, attendance at Memorial stadium is down.  Terry Hutchens discusses how the Hoosiers can turn it around on

Coach Kirk Ferentz announced earlier this week that Ricky Stanzi has won the starting quarterback job over incumbent and 14-game starter Jake Chrstensen.  Randy Peterson at The DesMoines Register interviewed the new starter who revealed he has no time for a girlfriend now that he is the starter.
Iowa will get the services of tight end Tony Moeaki and wide receiver Trey Stross for Saturday’s rivalry game with Iowa State.  Both players have missed both games this season  with injuries.
Running back Shonn Greene has been impressive in the Hawkeye’s first two outings.  Bleacher Reportmember Sayre Bedinger explains why Greene is making the best of a second chance.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is using Charlie Weis’ “The Hell With Michigan” comments as bulletin board fodder to help inspire his Wolverines for Saturday’s upcoming rivalry match-up. 
But Charlie Weis says the comments were a tribute to coach Bo Schembechler.  See the video here.   How does Weis explain away the line about Michigan making excuses?
Although Rodriguez as already announced that both Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan will see time at quarterback against the Irish, Weis expects to see Carlos Brown playing some at quarterback for the Wolverines as well.  Detroit Free Press’s Mark Snyder talks about what Weis expects to see in his blog.
The match-up between Notre Dame and Michigan will pit No. 1 against No. 2.  Lou Somogyi explains on Blue and
Bleacher Report member Jason Barczy explains why the Wolverines and Fighting Irish are the identical twins of college football and scribe LudaChristian at Victors Valiant has detailed preview of the match-up.

Michigan State 
After a disappointing loss to Cal in week one, the Spartans regrouped with a decisive victory over Eastern Michigan last week.  Tailback Javon Ringer is ready to step up for the Spartans and become the workhorse the team needs.  Detroit Free Press writer Shannon Shelton explains that Ringer is ready to answer the call.
The Michigan State offense is one of least in a seemingly dying breed.  But the Spartan’s don’t mind using an old-school approach offensively.  Chicago Tribune writer Tony Martin has more one why the Spartan offense doesn’t mind being grounded.
Michigan State center Joel Nitchman is soaking up all of the political coverage he can writes Joe Rexrode on
When Michigan State lines up against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, a point of emphasis will be on the pass rush writes Shannon Shelton on the Detroit Free Press.

The Gophers have already doubled their win total from a year ago when first year head coach Tim Brewster went 1-11.  Minnesota is now off to a 2-0 start and confidence is rising in Minneapolis.
The Gophers will face Montana State on Saturday and Coach Brewster is well aware of the Bobcat’s upset history.  Scott Mansch at the Great Falls Tribune has the story.
Running back Duane Bennett and center Jeff Tow-Arnett were both injured on the same play in last week’s rout of Bowling Green.  Bennett will miss the season with a torn ACL.  Kent Youngblood at the Minneapolis Star Tribune explains how the Gopher’s will adjust.

Northwestern is off to a 2-0 start and coach Pat Fitzgerald explains why his Wildcat’s have been both lucky and good to the Sporting NewsBleacher Reportcolumnist Sam Wenk has a good breakdown of Saturday’s win against the Blue Devils.
The Wildcats will face Southern Illinois on Saturday and Coach Fitzgerald has mad some changes to his starting line-up.  Shannon Ryan at the Chicago Tribune has more.

Ohio State 
Uncertainty has struck again.  On Thursday, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel announced the Chris “Beanie” Wells was “doubtful” for Saturday’s game against the USC Trojans.’s Adam Rittenberg explains what the Buckeyes must do if Wells doesn’t take the field.
With the game of year looming, the differences between Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll have been pointed out time and time again.  One thing is similar between the two coaches; they both know how to win.
The game between Ohio State and USC has been a long time coming explains Dan Raley at the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
The Bleacher Report has been full a great articles leading up to the big game.  Columnist Molly Gray gives us an alternative look at the match-up, Scribe Ned Dutton takes a look at some irrelevant stats, and Senior Writer Lisa Horne asks “Will the Buckeyes get Maualugaed?”
Finally, ESPN’s Chris Fowler says “don’t sleep on OSU’s chances“

Penn State 
Penn State has been on fire in it’s first two games and the Nittany Lions look like they are true Big Ten contenders.  Joe Paterno’s team has always been good defensively, but it’s the offense that is truly turning heads this season.  Credit goes to Jay Paterno’s new Spread-HD offenseUSA Today’sKelly Whiteside has more.
Bleacher Reportmember Isaac Luber reports that the Lion’s defense must step up if Penn State plans to go to the BCS.
The Nittany Lions play the Syracuse Orange this weekend in what used to be one of the nation’s most bitter rivalries, explains NY Timeswriter Mark Viera.
The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Penn State will again be without the services of suspended starters Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma.
When quarterback Daryll Clark needs tips on how to run the spread, he calls the last man to run it at Penn State, Michael Robinson, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Coach Joe Tiller got a win in his last season opener as the head coach of Purdue, his second game will be a much tougher test.  The Boilermakers host the Oregon Ducks on Saturday and the spread-conscious Boilers are bracing for the Duck’s speed according to Adam Rittenberg on
Purdue has played very few ranked non-conference opponents during Joe Tiller’s tenure at Purdue.  Cliff Brunt of the Chicago Tribune explains that Purdue is getting a much better Oregon team than originally expected.
Bleacher ReportContributer Larry Sigurdson has a good preview of the Oregon-Purdue match-up.

The Badgers will face their stiffest competition to date as they go on the road to face the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday.  Coach Brett Bielema readies his team for this tough road test as the Capital Times reports. 
The Chicago Tribune reports that Wisconsin may be looking in the mirror when it faces the Bulldogs.  The teams are very similar offensively.
Good news for Badgers fans:  Travis Beckum and Jonathan Casillas have been cleared to play in this week’s game.
Yahoo! Sports has a great preview of Saturday’s game.

Look for the Big Ten Weekly Recap after Saturday's games.