Saturday, October 29, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Iowa's last win in the series was in 2007 in Evanston, when the Hawkeyes, a +1 road underdog, beat Northwestern 28-17. Ironically, Iowa's last loss to both Iowa State and Penn State, before this season was in 2007. So, does it mean anything on Saturday for Iowa? We shall see.
Northwestern has beat Iowa five games, in the past six:
- 28-27 in 2005 in Evanston, Northwestern was a +3 underdog
- 21-7 in 2006 in Iowa City, Northwestern was a +20 underdog
- 22-17 in 2008 in Iowa City, Northwestern was a +8 underdog
- 17-10 in 2009 in Iowa City, Northwestern was a +15 underdog
- 21-17 in 2010 in Iowa City, Northwestern was a +10 underdog
Iowa hasn't held Northwestern to less than 17 points, since the 2002 win in Iowa's 62-10 victory at home. Iowa ruined Northwestern's Rose Bowl bid in 2000, with a 27-17 win at Kinnick. The Wildcats were coming off a 54-51 shootout at home vs. Michigan. Iowa won the 2001 game in Evanston 59-16.
In the game that cried, "bring on instant replay," in Kirk Ferentz's first season as Iowa's head coach, Northwestern beat Iowa 26-24 in Evanston in 1999, after an apparent fumble on their final scoring drive. The call on the field was player was down. If replay had been used in the game, indisputable evidence was fumble on the field. Northwestern kept the ball inside and scored the final TD in the closing seconds. The Big Ten Conference at the end of the season commented about the mistake on the field. The talk of using replay in Big Ten games was on the radar.
Iowa has a true sophomore at placekicker and a fifth year senior walkon at punter. Iowa PK Mike Meyer, like punter Eric Guthrie, arrived at Iowa as a walkon. Special teams will be very important on Saturday. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, like Kirk Ferentz for Iowa, takes pride in special teams and taking advantage of turnovers and mistakes from their opponents. In Iowa's lost in 2008, five Iowa turnovers fueled Northwestern to a 22-17 win over the Hawkeyes on Homecoming. Turnovers have been a problem in Iowa's losses.
Iowa will enjoy Homecoming next Saturday, with a game vs. Indiana (1-4, 0-2 B1G Legends). By the way, the Hoosiers play at Wisconsin on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2, as the Badgers (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders) come off a bye week.
Iowa doesn't have a strong defense in 2011. However, in the B1G opener in Happy Valley, the Hawkeyes held Penn State to only 13 points. The problem was on offense for the Hawkeyes, where Iowa only mustered three points, with only one red zone appearance the entire day. The defense wasn't pretty for Iowa, but the offense needed to be checked for a pulse, after the first quarter. Penn State's defense is good, but how good?
Opportunity knocks! Iowa opens the next four out of five games of the 2011 season at Kinnick Stadium. Ferentz's squad looks for success against the 'new' Wildcats on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.
"It's going to be a big challenge for our football team. We are excited to be
back in Kinnick again where our fans continue to be absolutely fantastic. It
should be a great environment, too." - Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa fans, as well as the Iowa's defense, have one big concern on Saturday night, with Northwestern's quarterback Dan Persa. The Northwestern quarterback has given the Hawkeyes fits in the past. Dispite being slowed by a torn Achilles tendon on the final TD play in last year's Iowa win, Persa has now returned for B1G play and ranks number four in passing efficiency.
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg had a rude awakening in Happy Valley last Saturday. Vandenberg's first major game day experience, was when Ricky Stanzi went down vs. Northwestern in the 2009 game. Iowa opened the game up 10-0 in 2009, but the Stanzi injury early in the second quarter on a sack, fumble and touchdown, threw Vandenberg into a 10-7 game against the Wildcats, as a redshirt freshman. The Wildcats scored 10 straight and won 17-10 to continue the streak.
How will Vandenberg rebound on Saturday? Iowa entered last week's Big Ten Penn State upbeat about a no-huddle offense. Vandenberg was a leader in all games in passing efficiency, but with two interceptions and no touchdowns at Penn State, his numbers dropped. Entering the B1G, Vandenberg had ten touchdowns and only one interception in leading Iowa to a 3-1 start. Can the Iowa offense find some Mojo vs. a Northwestern defense that ranks among the B1G and nation's weakest?
For Iowa to win on Saturday, the Hawkeyes will have to score touchdowns. The Iowa defense will have to keep tabs on Persa enough to give the Hawkeyes an opportunity. Last week, the defense held Penn State to 13 points. Northwestern appears to have a much better offense, than Penn State, in their ability to score. Army held Northwestern to 14 points, the lowest point total of the year, but Persa was on the sidelines. Like Army, Iowa needs to be disciplined against Northwestern, if they are going to win.A Mike Meyers FG could be huge on Saturday, along with QB James Vandenberg, RB Marcus Coker, the receivers and enough defense for the Hawkeyes. Our pick: Iowa 31, Northwestern 27
Elsewhere around the B1G:
- Purdue (3-2, 1-0 B1G Leaders) @ Penn State (5-1, 2-0 B1G Leaders) at 11 a.m. on BTN, Nittany Lions will be without top receiver senior Derek Moye, ouch!
- Michigan (6-0, 2-0 B1G Legends) @ Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 B1G Legends) at 11 a.m. on ESPN, the Wolverines are lead by QB Denard Robinson ... while MSU is coming off a bye week.
- Indiana (1-4, 0-2 B1G Leaders) @ Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders) at 11 a.m. on ESPN2, the Badgers are coming off a bye week against Kevin Wilson, who has lost 18 scholarship players, since arriving at IU this off season.
- Ohio State (3-3, 0-2 B1G Leaders) @ Illinois (6-0, 2-0 B1G Leaders) at 2:30 p.m. on ABC, the Fighting Illini beat the Buckeyes back in 1989, the last time we saw the Buckeyes enter this game unranked.
- Minnesota (1-5, 0-2 B1G Legends) and Nebraaka (5-1, 1-1 B1G Legends) both have bye weeks. The Cornhuskers will travel to Minnesota next Saturday!
The Cyclones travel to Columbia as a Homecoming opponent: Iowa State (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) @ Missouri (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) for a 1 p.m., no TV game. Hopefully, the Cyclones can overcome the odds and pick up another road win. They beat Nebraska in '09 in Lincoln and Texas in '10 in Austin.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Week 6: Our Top 25 picks heading into Week 7 and the second half of the 2011 College Football season
- LSU Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC West)
- Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC West)
- Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)
- Stanford Cardinal (5-0, 3-0 Pac 12 North)
- Boise State Broncos (5-0, 0-0 MWC)
- Oregon Ducks (4-1, 2-0 Pac 12 North)
- Wisconsin Badgers (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)
- Clemson Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC Atlantic)
- Arkansas Razorbacks (5-1, 1-1 SEC West)
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-0, 3-0 ACC Coastal)
- West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0 Big East)
- Michigan Wolverines (6-0, 2-0 B1G Legends)
- Illinois Fighting Illini (6-0, 2-0 B1G Leaders)
- Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac 12 South)
- Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, 1-1 ACC Coastal)
- Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1 B1G Legends)
- Auburn Tigers (4-2, 2-1 SEC West)
- South Carolina Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1 SEC East)
- Kansas State Wildcats (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)
- Texas Longhorns (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
- Texas A&M Aggies (3-2, 1-1 Big 12)
- Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 1-0 Legends)
- Baylor Bears (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)
- Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-0 B1G Leaders)
Knocked out: Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC East) - loss of starting QB in Week 5 lead to second loss in as many weeks in Week 6; Florida State Seminoles (2-3, 0-2 ACC Coastal), who are underperforming under second year coach Jimbo Fisher.Undefeated, but unranked by CID: Houston Cougars (6-0, 2-0 C-USA West)
Ranked in AP or Coaches, but not by CID: Houston Cougars (6-0, 2-0 C-USA West), who are #25 in AP and #22 in Coaches.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Kirk Ferentz is 8-2 vs. Joe Paterno, one game behind all-time leader Lloyd Carr, who stands 9-2 over Joe Pa. Will his young Iowa Hawkeyes move him to #1 with Carr?
Wow, who would have thought the Iowa Hawkeyes would do that to the Penn State Nittany Lions over the years? Iowa has won 50 Big Ten games over the past ten seasons, while Penn State has won 45 games over the past ten in the B1G. Iowa leads the series lifetime 12-10.
So, who wins in Happy Valley on Saturday?
Vegas says Penn State. The Computer (Jeff Sagarin) suggests Penn State. The Gazette picks all go for Iowa this week. Our Pick: Iowa 28, Penn State 27
So, what should we look for in Happy Valley? Iowa opens Big Ten season ...
Quarterback play is always extremely important. For Iowa, this will be #16 junior James Vandenberg's third start on the road in his career. For Penn State, they are playing two quarterbacks with #1 sophomore Rob Bolden, who started in last year's 24-3 loss @ Iowa, and #11 junior Matt McGloin. Vandenberg has thrown for 10 TDs and ran for 3 TDs in four games, while the two-headed monster for PSU have five TD passes in five games. Vandenberg has tossed one INT, while Bolden has thrown four picks. Last year in Iowa City, Bolden threw a Pick 6 to Iowa CB Shaun Prater, who is a senior now.
Vandenberg is 0-2 as a road starter for Iowa. Both games were 24-24 games at the end of regulation. In Vandenberg's first start in college in '09, Vandenberg lead Iowa, with a Big Ten title on the line in Columbus to a 27-24 loss in OT. He was only a redshirt freshman, but he made outstanding plays to keep Iowa in a tight game. In the first road game of '11, Vandenberg and the Hawkeyes fell short at Iowa State, in a 44-41 loss in three overtimes. Will the third road start be a charm for Vandenberg? It likely will have to be, if Iowa is going to win for the eighth time in 12 visits in the series.
Will Penn State win on Saturday? Defense typically fuels Penn State, but quarterback play will be extremely important. A quarterback often doesn't have to win the game, but he can't lose the game for his team. Most would believe that McGloin is the one to watch, if a PSU QB is going to shine. The offensive players to keep an eye for Penn State will be #6 senior WR Derek Moye, when the QBs are throwing the ball, but it is Penn State's run game that will test Iowa's rebuilt defensive line. At RB, #25 sophomore Silas Redd leads the Nittany Lions ground attack, but could some reserve RB come out and cause Iowa's defense trouble?
Iowa has typically done a good job slowing Penn State's ground game over the past decade. Iowa sent three linemen to the NFL this off season, so Iowa's top DT #93 senior Mike Daniels and DE #91 senior Broderick Binns, a starter in '09, need to help Iowa new line mates, including former walk on and PA native, DT # 87 senior Thomas Nardo, who is coming off a Big Ten defender of the week game in Week 4.
How much will the bye week slow Iowa? Will the Hawkeyes get off to a quick start?
Over the last five years, we have heard a lot of about Penn State's HD offense, which lost more than won vs. Iowa.
Iowa comes in with a new no-huddle offense. Iowa has three outstanding WRs this season, who have all ten TD passes in Iowa's offense over the past four games. Marvin McNutt, #7 a senior leads the unit with four TDs, with #6 junior Keenan Davis and #11 redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley, with three each.
Iowa's traditionally strong TE corp can go four deep, but consistency has been lacking, after sending four TEs to the NFL over the past four seasons. Walk-on #85 junior Zach Derby has been the most consistent, but #1 senior TE #39 Brad Herman and #86 sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz can move the chains, if they are playing well. Inconsistency has moved Iowa to a no-huddle three WR set more in '11.
Heading into Beaver Stadium on Saturday ... how much will Iowa use the run game on offense? Will it be the pass setting up the run or will Iowa stick to the tradition of using the run to set up play action and the Hawkeye bread and butter over the past decade? Iowa is lead on the ground by #34 sophomore Marcus Coker. After losing true freshman Mika'll McCall to a season ending injury in the opener, Iowa has finally brought in #33 true freshman Jordan Canzeri in Week 4. He is a small 5-9 180 pounds out of Troy, NY. Other running backs for Iowa are walk-on #3 junior Jason White and #28 true freshman Damon Bullock out of Texas. Look for both to come out and be in the slot on passing plays in Iowa's offense.
While we have heard about the offense so far, both Iowa and Penn State are built traditionally on solid 4-3 defense schemes that look to have the linebackers make plays on the field. Iowa will likely play a little 3-4 on defense, especially, if PSU wants to attack Iowa with the short passing game. In the 3-4, Iowa will likely blitz more. Otherwise, Iowa likes to establish line play with the four defensive linemen.
Iowa has two of the leading tacklers in the B1G right now, with sophomores #44 James Morris and #20 Christian Kirksey. Iowa's leadership at LB is #45 senior Tyler Nielsen. Iowa's fourth LB is another sophomore in #31 Anthony Hitchens. Iowa is lean on numbers, but this is a good group developing for the Hawkeyes.
For Penn State, will MLB #40 sophomore Glenn Carson off the field talking lead to success on the field for the Nittany Lions vs. Iowa? B1G fans will be disappointed again to not see Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti this season, due to an early ACL injury. The leadership now turns to OLBs #6 junior Gerald Hodges and #34 senior Nate Stupar.
The Penn State secondary is banged up, but everyone who starts is a junior or senior. Iowa's secondary has two of the better CBs in the B1G with #28 Prater and #18 junior Micah Hyde. Iowa was second to Florida over the past three seasons in forcing interceptions. Iowa has new starting safeties, since the Pitt game, with #4 senior SS Jordan Bernstine, who missed ISU game, and #5 sophomore Tanner Miller, who played as a true last season, but missed the Spring coming off a shoulder surgery. Bernstine has emerged as a leader. Both should be strong in run support.
Special teams often play a huge role in the outcome of the Iowa-Penn State series. Iowa's young kickoff return coverage team will have identify #2 senior Chaz Powell, who already has one return for a TD this season. Iowa could be very solid in the kicking game, as former walk-on PK #96 Michael Meyer continues to grow into the job, after arriving in Iowa City last season only to win the placekicking job. His long is 50 yards.
Iowa lost four year starting punter Ryan Donahue, who is now with the Detroit Lions, after beating out a veteran punter as a free agent. However, a 6-6 245 fifth year senior, #6 Eric Guthrie has filled the position well, so far, and Iowa leads the conference in net punting (43.1).
We have seen some very exciting games over the years in this series. Many of the game have come down to the wire. Two games in Happy Valley (2000, 2002) finished in overtime. The 2011 game should be very similar.
Keys to the game:
- Controlling the line of scrimmage
- Field position
- Special teams
- Big plays
Look for a close game on Saturday, which should give Iowa, the underdog, a good opportunity to win on the road. We shall see.
Three great games on ABC today (Central Time):
- Red River Rivalry in Dallas: Oklahoma vs. Texas at 11 a.m.
- Iowa @ Penn State at 2:30 p.m.
- Ohio State @ Nebraska at 7 p.m.
Other B1G games on Saturday:
- Minnesota @ Purdue at 11 a.m. on ESPN
- Illinois @ Indiana at 1:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
- Michigan @ Northwestern at 6 p.m. on Big Ten Network
- Bye weeks for Michigan State and Wisconsin
Some other games on TV to consider:
- Louisville @ North Carolina at 11 a.m. on ESPN2
- Mississippi State @ UAB at 11 a.m. on Comcast
- Florida @ LSU at 2:30 p.m. on CBS
- Air Force @ Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. on NBC
- Miami-FL @ Virginia Tech at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
- Arizona State @ Utah at 2:30 p.m. on Comcast
- Auburn @ Arkansas at 6 p.m. on ESPN
- Georgia @ Tennessee at 6 p.m. on ESPN2
- Iowa State @ Baylor at 6 p.m. on FSN
- Texas A&M @ Texas Tech at 6 p.m. on FX
- Colorado @ Stanford at 6:30 p.m. on Versus
- Washington State @ UCLA at 11 p.m. on Comcast
Sunday, October 2, 2011
There are plenty of unbeatens, as College Football ends the first Weekend in October. Here's a look at our Top 25, after five weeks of play in the 2011 College Football season.
CIDSports Top 25 College Football Teams after Week 5
- LSU Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC West)
- Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC West)
- Oklahoma Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
- Stanford Cardinal (4-0, 2-0 Pac 12 North)
- Boise State Broncos (4-0, 0-0 MWC)
- Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac 12 North)
- Wisconsin Badgers (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
- Clemson Tigers (5-0, 2-0 ACC Atlantic)
- Arkansas Razorbacks (4-1, 0-1 SEC West)
- Auburn Tigers (4-1, 2-0 SEC West)
- Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC East)
- Texas Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
- West Virginia Mountaineers (4-1, 0-0 Big East)
- Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-0, 2-0 ACC Coastal)
- Illinois Fighting Illini (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders)
- Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0 Pac 12 South)
- Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-1, 0-1 B1G Legends)
- Michigan Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 B1G Legends)
- Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1, 0-1 ACC Coastal)
- South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC East)
- Kansas State Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
- Texas A&M Aggies (2-2, 0-1 Big 12)
- Florida State Seminoles (2-2, 0-1 ACC
- Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 1-0 Legends)
Undefeated, but unranked by CID: Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-0), Houston Cougars (5-0)
Ranked in AP or Coaches, but not by CID:
- Baylor Bears (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) - #25 in AP; lost only road game @ K-State
What do we know, after Week 1 of Big Ten conference play?
Coaching stability is an important part of Big Ten football. Also, strong QB play is very important. In winning championships, defense is often a key component, as well.
Wisconsin (5-0, 1-0 in B1G Leaders) has a very good offensive coordinator (Paul Chryst) to complement head coach Bret Bielema and the rest of the Badgers' coaching staff. Further, NC State transfer QB Russell Wilson is an upgrade at QB for the Badgers in 2011. While a lot of love is going to be thrown out at the Badgers five weeks into the season, are the Badgers as strong as last year's team overall?
The Badgers are clearly the team to beat in the Big Ten, but despite the upgrade at QB, the defense may not be as strong as last year's team and we will have to let the season play out before we compare the Badgers to elite in the FBS. How would the Badgers perform right now vs. LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma or Boise State?
Nebraska (4-1, 0-1 B1G Legends) is breaking in a new OC in 2011, with Tim Beck, elevated from RB coach. Sophomore QB Taylor Martinez and his Cornhusker teammates received a "rude welcome" to the B1G, with a road night game opener in Madison against the defending Big Ten co-champions. The Badgers beat Nebraska 48-17, as Martinez made too many costly mistakes, along with others for the Cornhuskers. New PK/punter junior Brett Maher is a bright star for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska has really struggled against Top 10 teams as of late. TheOhio State's new head coach Luke Fickel, in for departed Jim Tressel, didn't find Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 B1G Legends) a very easy opponent in the Big Ten opener at home.
Cornhuskers have lost 16 of their last 18 games against Top 10 teams since the
start of the 2000 season... 11 of the losses have been by double digits,
including 6 by at least 20 points. - ESPN
Despite the MSU 10-7 win at Ohio State to open the 2011 season, Michigan State's offense struggled in Columbus. New OC Dan Roushar, promoted from OL coach, doesn't have senior QB Kirk Cousins and the Spartans run/pass game is struggling more than not, after a 11-2 season in 2010. Former OC Don Treadwll is head coach now at Miami-OH. The Spartans lost big twice in 2010, with a 6-37 loss at Iowa and a 7-49 loss in Capital One vs. Alabama.
The Ohio State Buckeyes (3-2, 0-1 B1G Leaders) nearly were shut out at home for the first time, since 1982 vs. MSU on Saturday. The suspensions are over, after Week 5. However, quarterback play is the weakest for the Buckeyes, then any season under Tressel. The 2004 Buckeyes had trouble going 4-4 in the Big Ten. Right now, the Buckeyes need to get something going. A road trip to Lincoln is ahead this week.
How easy will Nebraska's home opener in the B1G vs. Ohio State be this week? Both teams are licking wounds right now. Ohio State will get suspended players back on offense, as well as a reserve DE. Both teams need better quarterback play, if they are going to compete in 2011.
The Michigan Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 B1G Legends) beat Minnesota 58-0, after opening 2011 with five straight home games. Sometimes a coaching change is good and the Wolverines appear to be headed in the right direction under new coach Brady Hoke, with OC Al Borges and DC Bryan Mattison. However, just how good will the Wolverines finish? Last year, the Wolverines started 5-0 to finish 7-6 and in 2009, started 4-0 to finish 5-7. There is a trend towards improvement, but is Michigan ready to contend for a B1G division title in Hoke's first season. Junior QB Denard Robinson is exciting and healthy through five games. The defense can't be worse than what they were under former coach Rich Rodriquez and staff.
Sometimes coaching changes work well, but Minnesota (1-4, 0-1 B1G Legends) sadly is hurting right now. Head coach Jerry Kill, who arrived from a successful short run at Northern Illinois, has serious health concerns, after suffering a seizure, after the loss to Miami-OH in Week 3. He was on the sidelines, but he has been missing significant time during the week, since he is seeking medical attention for his condition. Alos, key playmakers were out for the Golden Gophers right now, with junior QB MarQueis Gray and senior RS/CB Troy Stoudermire out.
The 0-58 loss by Minnesota, tops the 0-55 loss to Iowa in 2008, in the final game the Gophers played in the Metrodome.
Illinois (5-0, 1-0 B1G Leaders) enjoyed another victory over Northwestern, as they came back from a 10-28 deficit late in the third quarter at home, to defeat the Wildcats 38-35 to remain undefeated for the first time, since 1951. Head coach Ron Zook has found some stability in the coaching staff, as OC Paul Petrino and DC Vic Koenning begin second season in Champaign. Further, second-year QB sophomore Nathan Scheelhaase threw for a career highs: 391 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Michigan travels to Northwestern for a game in Evanston this week. However, Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 B1G Legends) senior QB Dan Persa still remains a question for the Wildcats, as he recovers from a setback, another leg/foot injury in Champaign. Persa made his first start of the season, after being lost late last year, after being injured on the final score in a win over Iowa in '10. His injury didn't help Northwestern in Champaign on Saturday. This is the first meeting between the two programs, since Northwestern's 21-14 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2008. Michigan has back to back road games with Northwestern this week, then a trip to East Lansing on October 15Th.
Penn State (3-2, 0-1 B1G Leaders) traveled to Bloomington and despite a sluggish offense, Nittany Lions beat Indiana 16-10 to open the Big Ten with a win. The Nittany Lions still continue to go with two quarterbacks, as sophomore Paul Bolden and junior Matt McGloin share time. Bolden played poorly in Bloomington and McGloin lead the Nittany Lions to the lone touchdown drive. Joe Pa is in his 46Th season at Penn State. They have never lost to IU.
Iowa (3-1, 0-0 B1G Legends) enjoyed a bye week to get ready for Penn State in the Big Ten opener at Penn State. Iowa has won nine of the last 11 games over Penn State. The Hawkeyes will travel to Happy Valley, but the first off the field distraction was tabulated for the 2011 season, with second-string freshman quarterback A.J. Derby arrested over the weekend. So, much for a perfect bye week.
Iowa's coaching staff is lead by head coach Kirk Ferentz, OC Ken O'Keefe, and DC Norm Parker, all enjoying their 13Th season in Iowa City leading the Hawkeyes. Junior QB James Vandenberg has been up and down, but lead Iowa to a 21 point comeback win over Pitt in Week 3 and played well in the win over ULM to close out non-conference play. Iowa needs better consistency in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. If the Hawkeyes can staff healthy, and find success in Happy Valley and early in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes may find themselves competing for a B1G division title.
Indiana (1-4, 0-1 B1G Leaders) lacked much on offense in the debut of new coach Kevin Wilson in Big Ten play. The road will not get any easier, as undefeated Illinois comes to Bloomington this week for a Leaders division rivalry game. Sophomore QB Dusty Kiel made his first career start vs. Penn State, replacing sophomore Edward Wright-Baker.
Purdue (2-2, 0-0 B1G Leaders) after a 10-38 loss vs. rival Notre Dame in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers are still unsettled at quarterback, like Penn State, with two players rotating at the position. Third year head coach Danny Hope has junior Caleb TerBush and senior Robert Marve rotating at quarterback. Sophomore Rob Henry was the likely #1 heading into 2011, but a season ending injury cost Henry for the season.
Minnesota @ Purdue highlights the fifth game of the week in the Big Ten on October 8Th. Both teams have been struggling. Michigan State and Wisconsin will enjoy bye weeks before the Spartans host Michigan on October 15Th, while Wisconsin enjoys Homecoming vs. Indiana on the 15Th.
In closing, Wisconsin is the team to beat in the race for the Rose Bowl. Fitting, since the Wisconsin Badgers represented the Big Ten in the last Rose Bowl. Are the Badgers a BCS title game contender? Let's see how things fall out in the Big Ten first. After all, the Badgers did come up short 19-21 to TCU last season. Of course, 2011 is a new season!
Michigan State and Ohio State are co-champs from last year, though OSU was stripped of victories last year, due to NCAA violations. The Spartans need to play better if they are going to make a run at the Legends division title. Ohio State has a lot of questions right now, especially with their quarterback play.
Illinois is playing well, but they have nearly lost three staight games at home, vs. Arizona State, Western Michigan and Northwestern. The schedule is favorable for Illinois with the toughest B1G games at home and the games they should win on the road. Ron Zook's seventh season in the B1G and only one winning season in the Big Ten (6-2 in '07). Could this be another year of success?
It should be a great October in College Football, as conference play hits full bore.
On a sad note, Iowa State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) was unsuccessful vs. Texas in Ames on Saturday night. After beating Texas for the first time ever in Austin in 2010 (Cyclones won 28-21), the Cyclones were roughed up 14-37 by the Texas Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12). ISU self distructed and Texas is improved from last season's team that finished 5-7.
The Red River Showdown will be played this week, with Oklahoma (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) playing their rival Texas in Dallas. Iowa State travels to Baylor (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), who fell short at Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), by the score of 35-36.