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Monday, October 8, 2007

10/8/07 - Weekend Recaps

Illinois 31 Wisconsin 26
Illinois made a big statement with their win over Wisconsin on Saturday that this Illini team plans to be a major player in deciding the conference championship. The Illini were once again led by RB Rashard Mendenhall and the running game. Mendenhall rushed for 160 yards on 19 carries and scored two of Illinois' touchdowns. However, the most important performer for the Illini offense was QB Juice Williams. Juice finished the day 12 of 19 for 121 yards and 1 passing TD. The numbers are nothing to write home about, but Williams played an accurate and consistent game and most importantly did not make any mistakes. Mendenhall will continue to get his yards, but if Juice can continue to play mistake-free football, Illinois will be playing in January.
The Badger's saw their nation best winning streak snapped while they continued to give up huge chunks of yards on the ground. For the second straight game, the Wisconsin run defense was sub-par, allowing Illinois to rush for 310 yards on the day. With a road game at Penn State next on the schedule, the Badgers had better start to show improvement up front or they could be looking at back-to-back losses.
Player of the Game: Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall

Northwestern 48 Michigan State 41 OT
Northwestern went into East Lansing and got their revenge for last year's devastating loss to Michigan State. The Wildcat offense gained a total of 611 yards in the overtime victory. Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher completed 38 of 48 passes for 520 yards and 5 TD passes. WR Eric Peterman caught 9 of those throws for 141 yards and a touchdown. Michigan State RB Javon Ringer had another huge day on the ground rushing for 185 yards on just 12 carries with 3 TDs. Ringer also caught 6 passes for 54 yards on the day. Northwestern now has a serious chance to get to 5-3 with home games with Minnesota and Eastern Michigan the next two weeks. The Spartans host Indiana this Saturday before heading to Ohio State, as they try to avoid another collapse during conference play.
Player of the Game: Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher

Indiana 40 Minnesota 20
The Indiana Hoosiers have won back-to-back Big Ten games, and are now just one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Everyone knows about the Hoosier pass attack by now led by QB Kellen Lewis, but it was RB Bryan Payton and the IU running game that eventually did Minnesota in. Payton finished with 90 yards on 13 carries and 3 TDs. Indiana has scored 37+ points in their 5 wins, with the only loss coming to Illinois, which can now be considered a quality loss. The Hoosiers have winnable games at Michigan State and versus Penn State the next two weeks as they look to continue to surprise in the Big Ten this season. The Gophers will head to Northwestern on Saturday still looking for their first conference win.
Player of the Game: Indiana RB Bryan Payton

Michigan 33 Eastern Michigan 22
Mike Hart had a historic day in the Big House and the Wolverines picked up a non-conference win against Eastern Michigan. Hart finished the day with 215 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries en route to becoming Michigan's all-time leading rusher. However, the Wolverines didn't have much else to be excited about after the victory. EMU kept it close early before Michigan eventually pulled away in the second half. Wolverine fans should start to worry with games against Purdue and at Illinois coming up in the next two weeks. The Boilermaker offense should give Michigan fits, and everyone is finding it tough to win in Champaign this year. Losses in both of those games and Michigan could very well be looking at a 4-4 record.
Player of the Game: Michigan RB Mike Hart

Penn State 27 Iowa 7
Penn State was without starting RB Austin Scott against Iowa, and will likely be without him for the rest of this season, but Rodney Kinlaw picked up the slack leading the Nittany Lions to a much needed win at home. Kinlaw rushed for 168 yards on 28 carries and scored 2 TDs. QB Anthony Morelli looked decent going 18 of 31 for 233 yards and a score, but he did also throw 2 bad interceptions. Penn State can be excited about the running game, as this is a strong defensive front that Iowa brings. The Lions season will be made in the next three weeks with games against Wisconsin, at Indiana, and home against Ohio State. Meanwhile, Iowa has now lost 8 straight Big Ten conference games dating back to last year and it looks as though that streak will continue. The Hawkeye offense might as well not even take the field at this point, and the only winnable conference game left on the schedule will be a doormat fight with Minnesota in Iowa City on November 10th.
Player of the Game: Penn State RB Rodney Kinlaw

Ohio State 23 Purdue 7
If anyone still had doubts about this year's Buckeyes being a Top 5 team, those got answered on Saturday night. The Ohio State defense pitched a shutout until Purdue was able to score with just 10 seconds remaining in the game. Keep in mind this is a Purdue offense that scored 52, 52, 45, 45, and 33 in each of their first 5 games. It should be safe to say this OSU defense is as good as it gets. While there is certainly room for improvement, the offense did what it had to do. Buckeye QB Todd Boeckman threw for 200 yards on 17 of 29 passing and 2 TDs, but he also threw 3 interceptions. And the running game averaged just 4 yards per carry with RB Chris Wells gaining 85 yards on 18 carries. The good news for Ohio State is if the defense keeps playing like this, it won't take many points from the offense to win games. The Buckeyes head home to face Kent State and Michigan State the next two weeks before their toughest 4-game stretch of the year to finish up (at Penn State, vs Wisconsin, vs Illinois, at Michigan). Purdue will look to rebound on the road at Michigan next week in a must-win game if the Boilers want to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive.
Player of the Game: Ohio State S Chimdi Chekwa led the Buckeye defense with 10 tackles