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Around the Big Ten, week 5 (and an update on IU's non-conference opponents).

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Sorry I'm running behind this week.  Last week's game against the Michigan Wolverines not only served as IU's Big Ten opener, it was IU's first game of the season against a team with any presence in the blogosphere.  What are Michigan writers saying about the game?

If it's any consolation, Brian of mgoblog didn't take much pleasure in the win:

In progress it felt like dying from a thousand paper cuts only to be brought back with the crashing thunder of paddles, conscious and fully aware you were about to do it all over again. The opponent holding the ball for 42 minutes might not mean much statistically, but it does make most of the game an agonizing slog. As a result, records were set across the Michigan fanbase for "most muted response to a 70-yard touchdown." Such a thing wouldn't have been possible even four years ago. I remember thinking to myself "that's 25% of the points we need to win" after the first drive of the '06 Ohio State game, and I was delighted through a whole commercial break. I grew up with angry cold Midwestern football where touchdowns were hard-earned things only somewhat less rare than goals in soccer. Each one was a major step towards your goal, and punting a guy down inside their ten was tantamount to getting the ball back on the fifty. Now a touchdown is just holding serve. When Denard fumbled the snap on the one I thought "this is going to be a 99-yard touchdown drive," and then it was a 99-yard touchdown drive.

Dave of Maize n Brew was complimentary of the Hoosiers:

But it wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest that his opposite on Saturday was every bit as good as Robinson was. Indiana's Ben Chappell incinerated the Michigan defense. As the game wore on it was apparent that Michigan's pass defense had as good a chance against Chappell's arm as a wheat field does standing up against a thresher. Chappell threw for 480 yards against Michigan, going 45-64 with 3 TD passes. That's even more mind boggling than the Denard Robinson Show. How does any defense, especially a Big Ten defense, give up those kinds of passing numbers? To put Chappell's day in perspective, his 480 passing yards surpassed the 436 yards by Northwestern's Sandy Schwab on Oct. 23, 1982.


The Wolverine Blog isn't ready to give up on Greg Robinson and his defense:


I simply do not understand all the criticism being lobbed in Greg Robinson’s direction after last week, especially when people get mad that his schemes are too simple and conservative. I like what Chris does over at BWS, but I can’t disagree more with his article on Robinson this week, which says if Michigan finishes 7-5 or 6-6, it will "fall squarely on Robinson’s shoulders," and blasts him for playing too much zone coverage and not enough man-to-man. Robinson is doing everything he can with what he has been given, and when your cornerbacks are J.T. Floyd and James Rogers and you have freshmen and Jordan Kovacs (a good tackler, but not the type of athlete you want in man coverage) at safety, man-to-man coverage is not much of an option. I’m not saying Robinson is free from all guilt, as his game-plan was a little more conservative than I would have liked, but he’s really got no choice this season but to play bend-but-don’t-break defense and hope the offense puts up a lot of points. So far, that strategy has worked, even if the numbers are ugly. Michigan won’t face an efficient senior quarterback and a group of talented receivers like the Hoosiers’ every week.

In other action:

Iowa 24, Penn State 3:

The Hawkeyes made clear that they likely will contend for the Big Ten title, while Penn State's performance made me even angrier that IU sold this year's home game against the Nittany Lions.

Black Heart Gold Pants was thrilled with the defense:

Among the five designated "starters," there wasn't a single Iowa defensive lineman who didn't look positively unblockable at times against Penn State's offensive line, and certainly none of them were outplayed by the man in front of them. Adrian Clayborn's 10 tackles and 3 TFLs made him the star of the show, but they were all harassing Rob Bolden into difficult, hurried passes. Bolden will be good for PSU very soon, and Penn State fans should not lose any confidence in the freshman yet, but he was simply not in a position to succeed on Saturday.

Black Heart Gold Pants notes that the offense didn't do much to help the defense:

The offense wasn't doing the defense any favors going three-and-out on their first four drives. Iowa outgained Penn State 148 yards to 1 in the first quarter. Iowa put together an eight play 68-yard TD drive midway through the second quarter to take a 17-0 lead to pretty much put the game out of reach. That was the point it seemed like Penn State finally started to relax and just execute the plays. Penn State finished out the first half with an eight play 74 yard drive that ended with a field goal, but Penn State might have had a shot at a touchdown with better clock management.

Ohio State 24, Illinois 13:

Say what you want about Bill Lynch, but at least he isn't Ron Zook.  That clown must have sold his soul to the devil to get the Illinois to the Rose Bowl in 2007.  His decision, with around four minutes remaining, to kick a field goal from inside the 20 while down 7 was one of the most inexplicable decisions I have seen.  I would call it gutless, but it must take guts to do something so contrary to the interests of one's team.  Along the Oletangy gave the Illini credit for being more motivated:

Playing at 11 a.m. on a dreary Saturday in Champaign, Illinois, the Ohio State Buckeyes did just enough to avoid the upset against the Illinois Fighting Illini. From the very first snap, the difference in energy level between the two teams was apparent, and it held true throughout the game. The underdog Illini came out guns-a-blazin', even executing a nifty 23 yard double pass to starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase on their very first possession of the day. In stark contrast stood the Ohio State offense, which labored to 14 points in the first half, before disappearing completely with Terrelle Pryor's quadriceps injury in the third quarter. Backup Joe Bauserman promptly threw an interception on his second and final pass attempt of the game, leading to instant heart failure for Buckeye fans everywhere.

Meanwhile, Joe at Hail to the Orange, didn't like Zook's decision either:

What concerns me though, is that with 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and down a touchdown, we didn't try and win the game. You don't get opportunities like this every week. We know this team needs to get as many wins as possible, and it needs to make a bowl to gain any semblance of credibility with recruits. Down by one score against the number two team in the country, you have attempt to tie, not kick a field goal. We cannot be happy with simply keeping the game close with a good team when we have an opportunity to win.

Michigan State 34, Wisconsin 24:

Can the Spartans join the Rose Bowl race for the first time in years?  We will know more after they play Michigan this week, but MSU handled Wisconsin. The Only Colors was effusive about all units, but particularly special teams:

The offense and defense both played good games, but the special teams might have been the best part of the day. Dan Conroy continued his kicking perfection with a pair of 36-yard field goals; he is now seven-for-seven on field goals for the season. Keshawn Martin tallied his first return touchdown on the season, a 74-yard fairly straight-ahead punt return that exploited a line-drive punt. Kevin Muma averaged 65 a kickoff, which means that the ball usually lands at the five yard line. I can live with that; I think that kickoff yardage is greatly overrated unless the ball's landing at the 20 every time.

Bucky's Fifth Quarter had plenty of concerns:

Once again, UW's special teams let the Badgers down. Holding a 10-6 lead in the second quarter, Brad Nortman was punting with the wind at his back. Instead of kicking it high in the air, he struck a low line drive and Keshawn Martin had plenty of room to run off a 74-yard return for a touchdown. From there on, the Spartans never relinguished the lead. "I just miss-hit it," Nortman said after the game. "It was going with the win that time and I tried to kick it too hard. It was just too low for a returner like that and he made us pay." There were plenty of other issues too. Scott Tolzien only completed 11-of-25 passes for 127 and one touchdown. That was in large part to a number of dropped passes, but the senior quarterback was by no means sharp.

Northwestern 29, Michigan 28:

The Wildcats barely escaped against what looks like the Big Ten's worst team, but they are in the top 25 while Minnesota is now 1-4.  Sippin' on Purple won't look a gift horse in the mouth:

Northwestern's win yesterday disturbed people. For the first time on the year, the Wildcats trailed, and needed a boatload of late game heroics to escape with a one-point victory over a team that has looked really really really good at losing football games, especially against bad schools. But by the same token that there's no such thing as a close shot, or a good miss, Northwestern fans cannot complain about bad losses. Sometimes you shoot and it rims out. Others your ball spins into a cup you didn't intend it to. But one is in, and one is out. At the end of the day, you have to classify a game by where you file the "1", and today, it was in the "W" column. And that's all that matters.

The Daily Gopher wasn't happy with the Gophers' last drive:

This left 2:07 left for the Gophers to put together a game winning drive. The kickoff was returned to the Minnesota 40 and the Adam Weber led 2 minute offense was set to begin. The play-calling was eye-brow raising and the execution was altogether lacking. With under a minute to play and needing at least 20 yards to get into FG range an inside run was called. NU stuffed the run which ate up precious clock and put the Gophers in long down territory. On third down Weber had McKnight open for about an 8 yard gain but the pass was high and behind. Uncatchable and the Gophers faced 4th and 11. Northwestern blitzed, Weber was forced out of the pocket, threw as he was hit and Ben Johnson intercepted the pass to seal the game.


IU's non-conference foes didn't do anything for the Hoosiers' strength of schedule (Western Kentucky was off):

Massachusetts beats Towson on the road 27-14 - College Football -
John Griffin ran for a team-high 118 yards and scored the game's final touchdown as Massachusetts beat Towson 27-14 on Saturday night. The Minutemen (4-1, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) took an early 7-0 lead after a 1-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Hernandez in the opening quarter that capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive. - College Football news

Harnish sharp, Northern Illinois routs Akron 50-14 - College Football -
Chandler Harnish passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns as Northern Illinois routed Akron 50-14 on Saturday night in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams. Harnish, who was 16-for-20, hit Willie Clark with a 7-yard scoring pass in the second quarter, when the Huskies (3-2, 1-0) scored 23 points to take a 29-7 halftime lead. - College Football news

Louisville defeats Arkansas State 34-24 - College Football -
Chris Philpott hit a 46-yard field goal with 3:54 remaining to wrap up Louisville's 34-24 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday night. The victory snapped a 10-game road losing streak for the Cardinals (2-2). Philpott's second field goal provided Louisville with its only second-half points. Philpott opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal as the Cardinals, who had 393 yards of offense... - College Football news