B1G Ten Tour - Latest News, Notes & Thoughts
At the conclusion of each week's games, CFN's Phil Harrison puts the previous weekend of Big Ten football under the microscope, and looks ahead through binoculars to see what's in store for the upcoming weekend.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS - Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Who said you can't run and Hyde? Though Braxton Miller generally steals the show for the Buckeyes, Carlos Hyde has been a great compliment to the running attack to take some of the pressure off of Miller shouldering the load. On Saturday, Hyde continued to show well by rushing for 137 yards on 18 carries (7.6 ypc), and chipped in three TDs. It's been a bit under the radar, but Hyde now leads the league in touchdowns and scoring.
TEAM OF THE WEEK - Indiana
Another week, another win for the Hoosiers. It is now safe to say that this year's Indiana team is much improved. Against Iowa, the Hoosiers racked up 473 yards of total offense behind Cameron Coffman's 315 yards through the air on 21 of 33 attempts. Indiana held on for a 24-21 win to run its conference record to 2 up and 3 down.
The sophomore QB has filled in admirably since Tre Roberson went down with a season ending injury and added three touchdowns to his tally for the year. Amazingly, Indiana is now just an upset win away against Wisconsin next week towards being the new front-runner for a trip to Indy to "represent" the Leaders division in the Big Ten Championship game.
PLEASANT SURPRISE OF THE WEEK - Devin Gardner's Play at QB
The junior QB showed that Michigan can indeed still win games without Denard Robinson at the wheel. Despite the Maize and Blue looking like an old lady crossing the street on offense the last two weeks, Gardner moved back to QB from wide receiver and proceeded to throw for 234 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wolverines past the Golden Gophers on the road 35-13. He kicked in 21 rushing yards as well, and did it all with his shoelaces tied.
CLUNKER OF THE WEEK - Purdue against Penn State
Here we go again. The Boilermakers continue to underachieve on a weekly basis. This time, Penn State played the role of buzz-saw with Matt McGloin bombing away for 321 yards through the air. The defense continues to be atrocious at home--this time giving up 506 total yards to a Penn State offense that struggled at home against Ohio State the week before. The clock is ticking ever-so loudly on the Danny Hope era in West Lafayette.
12. Illinois- You know the drill here. Another week, another very bad looking loss.
11. Purdue- The valley can't get any deeper. Can it?
10. Minnesota- The Golden Gophers are more competitive this year, but still haven't been able to make a lot of hay against conference foes.
9. Iowa- Things are getting messy in Iowa City. Where do the Hawkeyes go from here?
8. Indiana- The Hoosiers have now won two conference games in a row for the first time since October 6, 2007. No that is not a typo.
7. Michigan State- The talent is better than this in East Lansing, but the Spartans simply cannot close out games. That HAS to count for something.
6. Wisconsin- Not much change with the bye week. A win next week over Indiana means the Badgers are headed to Indy.
5. Northwestern- The Wildcats are hanging around the top of the Legends division, and a win this upcoming week at Michigan will make things very interesting.
4. Penn State- It was a good bounce back by the Nittany Lions against a sad but true Purdue squad.
3. Michigan- Hello Devin Gardner! The Wolverines are ready to pounce if the Huskers stumble.
2. Nebraska- Nebraska showed resiliency in coming back to beat Michigan State on the road. There's still a tough road to hoe to get to Indy.
1. Ohio State- 10-0. The offense has always been there, and now the defense seems to be coming around.
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - The one and only Heisman hopeful in the conference. This week, Miller showed an improvement in the passing game, going 12 for 20 for 226 yards and 2 TDs. Miller also added another TD on the ground behind 73 more yards to finish just one yard shy of 300 total. At this pace, he may get an invite to New York, but it'll still be tough to see the sophomore get serious consideration for winning the whole thing unless Collin Klein and others begin to show some serious warts down the stretch.
Nobody else is getting any kind of serious consideration so we'll leave it with Miller or bust.
Unlike last week, there are a few good juicy matchups on the slate for next weekend. First up, Michigan hosts Northwestern for a Legends division elimination game. The winner can keep pace with Nebraska, while the loser will likely be playing to posture for a better bowl game.
Another huge tilt comes with Penn State traveling to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. If the ‘Huskers want to stay on top of the Legends division, it'll have to go through a very physical Penn State defense. The games at home, so that obviously helps, but we'll see if the physical beating Nebraska took matching up against the Spartans on Saturday will result in a hangover this coming weekend.
The other surprisingly relevant game of the week is Wisconsin at Indiana. It'll be tough for the Hoosiers to steal one against a more physical and talented Badger team, but if they do, they are all of the sudden in position to make a run at Indy. It'll be too starkly different styles.
The other matchups include Iowa hosting Purdue where one team will stem the tide of negative momentum, and Minnesota at Illinois where some fans might show up. Both Ohio State and Michigan State get well-deserved byes.