Big Ten Power Rankings Week 5

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Ohio State (3-1, 1-0)

Buckeyes post back-to-back shutouts for first time since 1996, and are starting to look like the best team in the conference. Again. Eventually making this year…well, so FUN and EXCITING that I just had to get up and dance (see picture above)! Ok, seriously,  yet another OSU conference title would really suck for ratings; for everybody. Because it would be BORRRRRRRRRRING!  Where are the 2000 Purdue Boilermakers, 1995 Northwestern Wildcats, and 2001 Illini when you need them?

2. Iowa (4-0, 1-0)

Meet senior linebacker Pat Angerer, could there be a better name for a linebacker? Angerer racked up a game-high 14 tackles and two turnovers to help the Iowa defense limit Penn State to only 10 points. Angerer recorded his first interception of the season and rambled 38 yards to set up the Hawkeyes’ second touchdown of the quart. Later he forced a fumble that was recovered by the Hawkeyes at the 18-yard line.

So far, the eyes have it, as the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes look a cut or two above the rest of the Big Ten, but this next group of five teams could all go bowling this holiday season.

3. Penn State (3-1, 0-1)

PSU holds a 13-3 series advantage over the Illini, including a 6-3 edge in Champaign, so 4-1 looks likely. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten (sixth nationally) in allowing just 10.24 points per game. They got a big boost from the return of LB Navarro Bowman: In first full game back from injury, he recorded a career-best 13 tackles (five solo) with three TFLs (-7 yards) against Iowa

4. Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0)

QB Scott Tolzien set career highs with 19 completions, 31 attempts and four touchdown passes against Michigan State. He became the first Badgers’ signal caller to toss four TD passes in a game since ‘06.  Three of them went to Tight End Garrett Graham, the world’s least interesting interview subject.

5. Michigan (4-0, 1-0)

Yes they’re undefeated, after going just 3-9 last year. But their secondary and offensive line units are terrible. To quote TSB Michigan correspondent H. Jose Bosch

“We already knew how lame the secondary was. Boubacar Cissoko and JT Floyd were awful on the corners this week and that situation doesn’t look much better. As for the offensive line, the loss of David Molk hurt more than I thought it would. The slight rearranging to fill in for him affected the line enough to make Tate Forcier’s day a little more difficult.”

6. Minnesota (3-1, 1-0)

Did you know THEY have the 3rd most championships in Big Ten history. (Yes, Michigan and Ohio State are 1 and 2) Is it possible to develop a man-crush on a player whose team you hate? Because if anyone can inspire it- Eric Decker, the early favorite to win the Silver Football award. He could also end up fourth on the Big Ten’s all-time receiving and receiving yardage list at the end of 2009. The feat is more impressive when you consider how the top three WRs on both lists emerged from the statistically-inflated, pass-happy “Basketball on Grass” era at Purdue.

7. Indiana (3-1, 0-1)

Ok, so they’re much better than you or I (or anyone thought) And they deserved a power rankings jump based on Bill Lynch’s angst alone. Which was almost Mike Gundian. They also have Darius Willis going for them (152 yards on 16 carries, 9.5 avg. 2 TDs) His 85-yard score tied for the third longest in school history and the longest run against Michigan in over 20 years.


For these schools….basketball midnight madness is just a couple weeks away

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8. Northwestern (2-2, 0-1)

Last year, the Wildcats set a school record for fewest rushing yards allowed per game. They returned 8/11 starters on defense this year, including everybody’s pre-season All-American Corey Wootton. Yet everyone’s running all over them these days. What gives? Start with Wootton- 0 tackles for loss, just 6 total stops through 4 games. Maybe he’s a real-life, high-brow version of Boobie Miles- never the same after knee injury and rehabilitation.

9. Purdue (1-3, 0-0) illinette3

Are they better than you think, or is Notre Dame worse? Well, 99 times out of 100, ND is much worse than their publicity suggests. Boilers sophomore running back Ralph Bolden, who leads the Big Ten in rushing with a per-game average of 122 yards, is seventh in the nation. But defenses are figuring him out, as he was held to a season-low 64 yards by Northern Illinois and 67 by ND.

10. Illinois (1-2, 0-1)

So where is the allegedly vaunted offense hiding? WR Arrelious Benn was a favorite in August to win the Biletnikoff award. He has a whopping 44 yards receiving on the season. Juice Williams was on every QB award watch list you can mention. Through three games, he has 0 TDs, 3 INTs and a passer rating that would make Rex Grossman vomit. With Penn State coming to town, this season could get ugly quickly, like Lou Tepper or Ron Turner era ugly.

11. Michigan State (1-3, 0-1)

Replacing a QB and tailback is tough, but at Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan, they just re-load instead of rebuild.  They do have a bright spot in WR Keshawn Martin (and how could you not end up becoming a wideout with a name like Keshawn Martin?) At Wisconsin he had four catches, 139 yards and two TDs, including a 91-yard score, the second-longest pass play in MSU history.

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Jim Tressel: Ohio State’s Master of Michigan

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By Paul M. Banks

  At Big Ten Media Day he discussed the rivalry with UM, the upcoming season in the Big Ten and much more.

 “The” Ohio State University Head football Coach Jim Tressel wears an article of clothing, a red sweater vest, so much that he’s often referred to as “the sweater vest.” Especially by ESPN’s Jim Rome. Like Tom Landry and his fedora hat or Bill Belichick and his grey cut-off hoodie, Tressel and his sweat vest are now a part of immortal football coaching lore.
 
The vest replaced John Cooper in 2001. Since then, his OSU teams are 1-2 in National Championships games, and his 2002 team pulled off the amazing feat of going 14–0; the first time its been done in college football in over 100 years.
 

Tressel’s won 5 Big Ten Titles, but he’s likley best loved in Columbus for his mastery of Michigan. After all, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is often considered the best rivalry in college football, perhaps in all of sports. It’s certainly the only rivalry to be profiled in a HBO documentary.

highlights of Tressel versus Michigan
 
-seven wins, second in school history to Woody Hayes’ 16.
 
-only OSU to win seven of eight against the Wolverines
 
-only Buckeye leader to win 5 consecutive over the maize and blue. 

 

On Michigan’s getting back on their feet soon to help improve the image of the Big Ten…south-park-jim-tressel
“Michigan’s on their feet. Anyone that’s ever been a part of a transition knows that for about 365 days, every day is a new day, every adjustment, every relationship that you’re trying to build, it’s hard. Transitions are hard, we were 7-5 our first year, every day was a challenge…I wouldn’t worry about Michigan, they’re going to be just fine.”

More commentary on one of the conference’s “big two” being in a swoon hurting the league…

“I suppose people from outside the conference could say that, now if they really stepped back and thought about it. We’re not the only conference that’s had transition in teams. Take Alabama for instance which is dear to some people’s hearts. They had a moment of transition there and now, all of a sudden, they’re rolling. It happens in every league and Michigan’s going to hold up their end of the bargain.”

 

On improving the reputation of the Big Ten, taking steps to augment the league’s image…

“We spend time in meetings…and we always talk about how we can get better. Even after the years where we might be 5 and 2 in bowls, you’re sitting there talking about, how can we get better? This year we were 1 and 6, and maybe that discussion gets even more impactful or whatever. But that’s an ongoing thing that we talk about. I don’t know that anyone in this conference has an inferiority complex. If you watch ball games, our guys will play toe to toe with anyone. If you watch the NFL draft, they’ll get selected at the regularity of almost every conference.

But it is something that, as I mentioned earlier, we take very, very serious, that every time we line up outside our conference, obviously we’re representing ourselves and our institution, but we’re representing this league. That’s important to us. When those bowl games are going on, we’re rooting like crazy. That’s something that’s very, very important.

 
On the Buckeyes start of the season…

“Our September is an extraordinary one. We’re going to have to be ready on September 5th to face Navy coming in. It’s an exciting thing for us because we haven’t had an academy in Ohio Stadium since about 1930. And it’s really going to have some extra excitement and energy as the Naval Academy comes in with their unique style of play where they’ve led the nation in rushing the past four years, and they give you some problems that you probably haven’t rehearsed against for many, many years.

And then Southern Cal comes in, and enough said there. A great football team. Then we go up to Cleveland Stadium to play in the Browns’ stadium, which will be exciting for our young people, to play in an NFL stadium and play against the University of Toledo there.

And then we open the Big Ten with the University of Illinois. In my opinion, they may have as much or more talent than anyone in this league. I know they’re going to be a very veteran team, very mature team. So that’s going to be quite a September for us. So we’re going to need to have a heck of a preseason. We’re going to need to grow very, very quickly.

 

Finally, when I asked him about the state of the running back position, replacing Beanie Wells, what needs to happen there, and the role of Dan Herron- how’s he developed?tressel_in_grey_sweatervest
 
It’s difficult to replace a Beanie Wells…he was the kind of guy that as the season went on or as the game went on, he got stronger and stronger. We used to talk about there was a cumulative effect when he carried the ball through the course of a game or through a season. So you can’t replace exactly what he does or what he did.

We feel real good about Boom Herron. Danny Herron is a tough kid, a good ball carrier, excellent pass protector, is solid in the passing game. We’d like to think that Brandon Saine, another young man that had a real solid freshman year and then had some injuries this past year that kept him from being in the plan as much as we had anticipated, Brandon had a very good spring, as well, as did Danny.

He’s the kind of guy that not only is he an excellent running back, but he’s a real fine receiver and has tremendous speed. He owns the 100 meters record in the state of Ohio at 220 pounds. Brandon, we would like to believe, will be a heck of a runner there.

We’ve got some other guys that can maybe run the ball in different type scenarios than a traditional running back with some of our wide guys and our quarterback and those types of things.