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This week's top ten and the season top ten are below the jump. You can view the full standings at the Yahoo! group page.
On To Week 6 In The B1G
For about two hours on Saturday we lead the Leaders Division. Sure, it was a four way tie with Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin, but a lead is a lead. If we can beat Penn State in what could easily be a 12-10 game where we connect on four 50+ field goals we can hold said lead for another week and play for it against Illinois. At the very least I don't think people were thinking we'd be a game and a half against Ohio State at this point.
This is why I am going to try and simply relax and see what happens the rest of the season. Surprises happen all the time. Right now, I think Penn State is beatable because they have an awful offense. I think their defense is good enough to beat us, but their offense gives them little margin for error. Say they get a field goal, but Raheem Mostert or O.J. Ross breaks the kickoff back for a touchdown? Each week should be the biggest game of the season, and right now Penn State is for us, especially with Indiana and Iowa looking like possible wins later on. Our chances of going into Happy Valley and winning are still small, but I think you would agree they are better than they looked a few weeks ago.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at the weekend that was in the Big Ten.
Purdue 45, Minnesota 17
The clearest thing from this game is that Minnesota is awful. They might be the worst Big Ten team in quite some time. The competition for this dubious honor is touch. Illinois had some pretty awful teams in the middle of the last decade. Indiana has some teams that would factor in. Northwestern pre-1995 is the
gold talc-standard. Purdue's 1991 1-10 was bad, but was at least competitive in most games. The Golden Gophers (or should they just be called the Gophers) did nothing on offense against a defense that gave up 500+ yards just a week earlier on the same field. Their defense, while not awful, was exhausted by the third quarter. Their one bonus was three sacks of Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve when they had two in the first five games total. Of course, coach Hope thinks this is improved line play by us.
Even the locals think this team is historically bad:
I love Gopher football and I believe we have the right coaching staff in place, but holy **** this team is terrible. They are bad in every facet, and that's very, very unlikely to change the rest of the season. Adam Rittenberg today called them the worst team in a BCS conference, and I'd say that's being kind- this might be the worst team in all of division 1 football. When the updated stats come out tomorrow for the nation, Minnesota will be dead last in the Big Ten in pretty much every category (not that they weren't heading into the Purdue game, but now they're REALLY last), and could be 100 or worse nationally in most of those. It might be a worse team than Tim Brewster's 2007 1-11 squad, and that's saying something.
For us, we can at least enjoy a blowout conference win, something that looked very unlikely given the way the season started. We're now half way to bowl eligibility, and Here is how I rate our remaining schedule based on most likely wins to least likely wins:
Indiana, Iowa, at Penn State, Ohio State, Illinois, at Michigan, at Wisconsin.
Illinois 41, Indiana 20
Indiana may be 1-5, but they have at least shown a few moments of competence this season. They started with a 10-0 lead over the Fighting Illini, but couldn't hang on. Shane Wynn returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but the key was early int he second when Indiana couldn't get it in the end zone after recovering a fumble inside the five. The Hoosiers settled for a field goal, then covered A.J. Jenkins with just one guy. Jenkins shredded them for 182 yards and two scores through the air and Indiana gave up an additional 308 on the ground:
After falling behind 10-0, Illinois would go on a 34-3 run that would all but smother Indiana by midway through the third quarter. For the second week in a row, a Big Ten team has had no answer for A.J. Jenkins, who was responsible for turning the tide early and crushing Hoosier hopes late in the game. Jenkins finished the day with six catches, 182 yards and two touchdowns, which came on 77 and 67 yard catches. In the past two weeks, Jenkins has totaled 450 yards and 5 TDs. Petrino and Jenkins might be picking on weak secondaries to get these gaudy numbers, but that is okay by me, because it is good to finally see an offense that can identify an advantage and exploit it completely. Rejus Benn never had the sort of opportunities to shine that AJ is having right now.
Penn State 13, Iowa 3
The Nittany Lions cannot pass the football. Seriously. one of their longest passes of the day was a ricochet off of an official. Silas Redd is a pretty good running back, but I am fine with stacking the box against them and daring Robert Bolden and Matthew McGloin to beat us through the air. If Ricardo Allen can get a pick or two, maybe take on to the house for the record, we have a great chance. it would even count as a road win over a ranked team since the Nittany Lions are #25 in the coaches poll. Our Most Hated Rival's propaganda rag was, as expected, all emo after the loss:
Nittany Lion fans will tell you, as they told me on Saturday, their team is a defensive juggernaut and to not be too discouraged. If only that were true. Sitting in the stands (I attended the game with BHGP member Bellanca) revealed many things about both teams, but it did not show a Penn State defense of a merciless destructive force. I found the Penn State defense to be well coached and balanced but not particularly fast, athletic or even of great size and strength. Were they the best defense the Hawkeyes have faced this season? Without a doubt. What was apparent as the game wore on was this defense was more prepared for the game than was the Iowa offense. They executed a very good game plan and it was the difference in the game. Iowa had no answers. Proving that an extra week of preparation might be vastly overrated.
Michigan 42, Northwestern 24
Some team is going to figure out that Michigan is basically Denard Robinson running around and throwing up jump balls. I don't understand why teams won't send two guys to spy on him and tackle him every single play regardless of if he has the ball or not. His passing game consists of throwing the ball as high as he can and hoping his receivers catch it. he still had three picks in this game, but it is a testament to just how good he is that Michigan is 6-0 with him as their only consistent offense.
Northwestern, meanwhile, blew a double-digit lead for the third straight week:
Another double digit lead, another loss for Northwestern.
NU had a 24-14 lead at the half, thanks to a balanced offensive attack and Denard Robinson gift-wrapping three interceptions, but in the second half Northwestern had two costly turnovers, Denard went back to playing like an All-American, and NU just couldn't keep pace. The 'Cats are under .500 for the first time since starting 2007 2-3, and badly need a win next week against Iowa if they want to be bowl eligible.
Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27
Generally I am all for conference solidarity, but if there is one fan base that needs to be taken down a peg is it Ohio State. many of their fans have viewed Big Ten titles as a God-given right, and Tressell made sure that happened. Well, barring a miracle, there will be no Big Ten title after an epic choke in Lincoln.
And this was a choke. they had a 21-point second half lead on the road and they still pride themselves on having a stout defense. Taylor Martinez and his catapult-style throwing motion still came back, with a huge assist to Rex Burkhead. The Cornhuskers joined Michigan with 28 straight unanswered points to finish the game.
QB: Taylor Martinez came out and gave his critics in class, on Twitter, and in the Omaha World-Herald a huge "F-you" where it belongs: on the field. His passes were crisp, he checked down to Rex Burkhead all night long, and he handled the ball well except for one play. He was poised all night long, and he was smart with the ball. Needing to scramble for three yards, he twice gained four. His one mistake? Overthrowing Kyler Reed badly near the end of the first half, resulting in an interception and a late field goal for the Buckeyes. But blame for that has to be shared with Tim Beck for calling the play in the first place. First half: B, Second half: A. Overall: A-
The real question for Ohio State is now the health of Braxton Miller. If OSU is forced to play the rest of the season with Joe Bauserman at quarterback they may not even make a bowl game.
Western Kentucky 36, Middle Tennessee State 33 (OT) - I wish that was a typo. The Blue Raiders dropped a game to a team that was blown out at home by Indiana State. This was even a home game for MTSU. Western Kentucky was 0-4 coming in and 2-10 last year.
Rice 28, Memphis 6 - At least we won't be the only win for the Owls this year. Memphis is 1-5, however, and generally considered to be one of the worst FBS teams in the land.
Tennessee State 55, Southeast Missouri State 3 - A week after beating Eastern Illinois the Redhawks got drilled yet again.
Notre Dame 59, Air Force 33 - No word on if printing presses are printing up new books proclaiming Brian Kelly as the Greatest Coach Ever like his predecessors. It's just sad Air Force had a better day against them offensively than us.
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