Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seven Year Itch: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini at 9-3

Lincoln, Nebr. - - Nebraska makes change again in football leadership, after another 9-3 regular season and no conference title.

“Coach Pelini served our University admirably for seven years and led our football program’s transition to the Big Ten Conference,” Nebraska A.D. Shawn Eichorst said. “We wish Coach Pelini and his wonderful family all the best and thank him for his dedicated service to the University.”

Bo Pelini was completing his seventh season at Nebraska. He was 9-3, same record as former head coach Frank Solich, when he was fired at the end of the 2003 regular season.

"I fully support Shawn's decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program, and wish Bo and his family all of the best," NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman said in a statement. "I am confident that Shawn will find the best coach, teacher and fit for this University and for our football program."

Nebraska hasn't had a conference title in football, since the 1999 Big 12 title.

Check out @Huskers's Tweet:

Friday, November 28, 2014

#23 Creighton faces Ole Miss tonight in Emerald Coast Classic

Niceville, FL - - #23 Creighton (5-0) continues play in the Emerald Coast Classic when it plays its first games of the season away from CenturyLink Center Omaha this weekend.

First up is a Friday evening game vs. Ole Miss (3-1). Tip-off at The Arena (2,200) in Niceville, Fla., is set for 7:30 pm Central.

Creighton has never faced Ole Miss in this Big East vs. SEC match up. The winner will face the winner of the Cincinnati vs. Middle Tennessee State game on Saturday night on CBS Sports Network (Direct #221).

Creighton has opened the young season with five straight wins, posting home victories over Central Arkansas (104-77), Chicago State (84-66), No. 18 Oklahoma (65-63),   North Carolina Central (65-45) and Eastern Illinois (75-53).

The Bluejays have had a different scorer in each victory, and six men are averaging at least 8.0 points per game.

Two of those men are scoring in double-figures, a group led by sophomore SG Isaiah Zierden (13.8 ppg.), with senior C Will Artino (10.2 ppg. 6.0 rpg.) not far behind.

Doing a little bit of everything has been senior guard Devin Brooks (8.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 4.0 apg.), who leads the team in rebounding and steals and is second in rebounding while continuing to stuff the stat sheet.

Creighton returns 11 lettermen from last year’s 27-8 team that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season. However, senior PG Austin Chatman (9.6 ppg., 4.6 apg.) is the only returning starter from that group.

The Bluejays are trying to replace the most victorious senior class in program history, as Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigat, Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge combined for 107 wins as well as 5,934 points, 872 three-pointers, 1,062 assists and 2,250 rebounds at CU. All four men are now playing professionally, including McDermott in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls after he averaged 26.7 points per game and swept 14 National Player of the Year awards last winter.

Ole Miss has won three straight games since suffering a 66-65 overtime loss at the buzzer to Charleston Southern in its season-opener.

Jarvis Summers (14.3 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 3.8 apg.) leads the team in scoring, just ahead of Stefan Moody (11.8 ppg., 2.5 spg.) and LaDarius White (11.5 ppg., 4.3 rpg.).

The Rebels are averaging 72.0 points per game, despite making just 18 three-pointers on 23.4 percent marksmanship from long-range. Ole Miss has outrebounded teams by eight caroms per contest and owns 21 blocked shots in four games.

Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa, 1988) is in his fifth season as head coach at Creighton. He led CU to a 27-8 mark last year, and is 112-38 with the Bluejays. McDermott has previously been a head coach at Iowa State (2006-10), Northern Iowa (2001-06), North Dakota State (2000-01) and Wayne State (1994-2000). He owns a career mark of 392-233 in his 21st season and is 261-169 in his 14th Division I campaign. McDermott is assisted by Darian DeVries, Steve Lutz and Patrick Sellers.

Andy Kennedy (UAB, 1991) is 174-102 in nine seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, moving his career mark to 195-115 in 10 seasons when you include a year as Cincinnati’s interim coach. He was also previously an assistant coach at Cincinnati, UAB and South Alabama, and is assisted by Bill Armstrong, Tony Madlock and Todd Abernethy.

7-Foot redshirt junior center Geoffrey Groselle had the best game of his Bluejay career on Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 12 minutes of playing time. His play earned him a pair of standing ovations from the more than 17,400+ fans at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Groselle had owned just 44 career points in the first 36 games of his career before his outburst. Groselle has made 26-of-34 career field goal attempts, good for 76.5 percent.

Creighton has used three men who alternate playing time at the “5” position for most of this season, Artino, sophomote Zach Hanson and Groselle.

While none of them have stats that might jump off the page individually, as a collective group they’re tough to beat, combining for 20.8 ppg. and 11.0 rpg. in 39.6 minutes per game, all while shooting 64.1 percent from the floor.

Name    MPG    FG-FGA    RPG    PPG
Artino    19.0    19-35    6.0    10.2
Hanson    12.8    10-15    3.8    5.2
Groselle    7.8    12-14    1.2    5.4
Total    39.6    41-64    11.0    20.8

Creighton will bring a balanced attack into the game against Ole Miss. Creighton owns six players who are averaging 8.0 points per game or more this season.  Eight players have scored 12 or more points in a game this year, and CU has seen a different leading scorer in each contest.

Creighton also has seven different players with five or more rebounds in a game this year. The Bluejays have had a different player with 10 or more rebounds in four games this season after only having three players with double-figure rebound totals (McDermott, Gibbs, Artino) all last season.

Three of those men (Chatman, junior James Milliken, Brooks) are guards. Chatman has been Creighton’s outright leader in rebounding two of his past three games after doing that just once in the first 108 games of his career.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving #Hawkeyes #Jays #Cornhuskers #Panthers

Cedar Rapids, IA -- We have reached the point in the athletic calendar where College Football is winding down and College Basketball has tipped off another regular season.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3 B1G West) will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3 B1G West) on the gridiron of Kinnick Stadium on Black Friday. It will be a 11 a.m. start televised on ABC.

Both, the Iowa and Nebraska basketball programs are off to a slower start with each experiencing a loss already on the books. Iowa is 4-2, while Nebraska is 3-1.

In football, some Hawkeye fans and even more Cornhusker fans are getting restless, tired and frustrated with their head coach's lack of high success. Neither Kirk Ferentz or Bo Pelini have won a conference title in the last ten and seven years, respectively. Ferentz did win in 2002 and 2004 at Iowa. Pelini is enjoying his seven year itch at Nebraska.

Remember, change for the sake of change often doesn't bring fruit in the Heartland. The Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will enjoy their border way on Black Friday. Iowa won last year in Lincoln 38-17, but haven't won at Kinnick over Nebraska in 33 years.

At the present time, neither is ranked in the Top 25 in either sport.

Both will be heading south for the bowl season, but this game was hopefully for a division title on the line, but will have to wait for next season?

The B1G West title will be determined Saturday, as Minnesota @ Wisconsin is played for Paul Bunyan's Ax. The winnet will earn a date in the Big Ten title game with Ohio State. We expected the Golden Gophers to win, but with RB David Cobb's injury, the Badgers are likely in a good position for a date with the Buckeyes.

Creighton men's basketball is off to a 5-0 start, as head coach Greg McDermott turned 50 on Tuesday night with the Jays' fifth win of the season. Last week's win over then #18 Oklahoma at CenturyLink placed the Jays at #23 in this week's AP Poll.

With only one returning full-time starter, senior PG Austin Chatman, the new look Jays have seen five different players step up to lead the Creighton scoring chart in five straight games. Last year, NCAA player of the year Doug McDermott lead Creighton in scoring in all but three games.

The Jays men's soccer team beat Oregon State on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16 of the College Cup. The women's volleyball team is still playing, after a successful Big East season.

Iowa State football plays West Virginia on Saturday at Jack Trice for Senior Day. It has been a long journey a 2-8 season and zero Big 12 victories. Time is running out, but the Cyclones won the Cy-Hawk Trophy, so Life's Good for Paul Rhoads and his program in Ames.

Iowa State (3-1) men's basketball is in good hands with coach Fred Hoiberg. The Cyclones fell to Maryland in Kansas City ahead of Thanksgiving.

The Cy-Hawk Game will be in Iowa City in December. Creighton at Nebraska will be another good intra-state basketball game coming in December. Both games will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

The University of Northern Iowa Panthers open the FCS Football Playoffs in the UNI-Dome hosting Stephen F Austin. The winner travels to Illinois State in the next round of the Playoffs.

On the hardwood, the Panthers are 6-0 and appear to have a good unit for the 2014-15 season. The Panthers received 17 votes in the latest AP Basketball Poll. They are coming off a 61-42 victory over Northwestern in Mexico on Wednesday night.

The smell of Thanksgiving is in the air, as the Detroit Lions continue the tradition of the NFL on this Holiday hosting the Chicago Bears (5-6) indoors. However, it is the Green Bay Packers (8-3) that now lead former Hawkeye Jim Caldwell's Lions in the NFC Central Division.

Enjoy the turkey and the festivities everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creighton overcomes 18 point deficit at home to defeat #18 Oklahoma 65-63

OMAHA, Neb. - Down 42-24 early in the second half, the Creighton men's basketball team came all the way back to defeat No. 18 Oklahoma 65-63 on Wednesday, Nov. 19, before 17,393 fans in Omaha.

Creighton moved to 3-0 on the season with the second-largest comeback victory in CenturyLink Center Omaha history, while the Sooners dropped to 1-1. 

Austin Chatman had 17 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and six assists in the Bluejay victory and keyed the second-half charge after CU fell behind 42-24 with 18;30 to play.

Creighton mounted a 24-4 run to take its first lead of theg game at 48-46 on an Isaiah Zierden three-pointer with 11:35 remaining. The teams exchanged seven leads in the second half, but Creighton took the lead for good with 49 seconds left when Zach Hanson tipped in a Devin Brooks miss to make it 63-61. OU's Jordan Woodard would miss a go-ahead three-pointer and Austin Chatman was fouled with 24 seconds left. Chatman sank both for a four-point margin.

OU got within two points on a pair of free throws by Isaiah Cousins with 5.0 left before Brooks was fouled with four ticks left. He would miss both and OU called timeout with 3.6 to play.

Following timeouts by both teams, Woodard drove upcourt and missed a contested fallaway three-pointer at the buzzer as the home crowd roared.

Oklahoma star Buddy Hield scored the game's first seven points as the Sooners raced to leads of 7-0, 28-18 and 33-20 before settling for a 35-24 lead at the break. Creighton shot a paltry 24 percent (6-25) in the first half and were outrebounded 24-17 by the Sooners.

TaShawn Thomas had four points and Ryan Spangler a three-pointer as OU opened the second half with another 7-0 run to make it 42-24. A Bluejay timeout sparked the greatest comeback victory in the five-year tenure of Greg McDermott at Creighton.

The 24-4 run took just 6:37, and started with a three-pointer from Toby Hegner and followed with threee-balls from Zierden and Chatman before a Zach Hanson three-point play made it a 12-2 run and trimmed the deficit to single-figures at 44-36 with 15:26 left. The onslaught continued despite two timeouts from OU coach Lon Kruger. Hoops by Brooks and Chatman got CU within four before a Hield tip-in made it 46-40 OU wiht 13:18 left. But Hegner drained a three-pointer, and Hanson another jumper before Zierden's three-pointer gave CU its first lead at 48-46 with 11:35 left.

Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game.

In addition to Chatman's first career point/rebound double-double (17 & 11), Hegner and Zierden both scored 11 points. Creighton shot 37.5 percent for the game and 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) from three-point range, while also sinking 15-of-21 foul shots.

Hield led all scorers with 21 points for OU before fouling out with four seconds left., while Ryan Spangler had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double. Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas had 14 points and six rebounds as well for the Sooners. Oklahoma shot 35.5 percent for the game, including 8-of-24 percent from downtown (33.3 percent), while making 11-of-14 free throws. OU owned a 44-37 edge on the glass.

The Bluejays return to action on Sunday, Nov. 23 as Creighton begins play in the Emerald Coast Classic against North Carolina Central at 3:00 pm.

NOTES: No. 18 Oklahoma was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent to play Creighton in Omaha since the Bluejays overcame a 37-19 deficit to defeat No. 17 Western Kentucky on Nov. 27, 2001 ... Creighton improved to 21-119 all-time vs. AP Top 25 teams, including a 4-2 mark at CenturyLink Center Omaha, and a 7-3 mark at home since 1998-99 .. Creighton has won 25 straight regular-season home games vs. teams from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, BIG EAST, Pac 12 and SEC dating to 1996-97 ... The win extended Creighton's home win streak to 21, but this was the first time the Jays had trailed in the second half of that streak ... Isaiah Zierden has scored in double-figures in all three games this season after doing so just three times as a freshman ... Creighton improved to 47-0 all-time in regular-season home games on or before Nov. 26th ... Oklahoma has lost 12 straight games in front of 14,000+ fans, while Creighton is 22-1 in its last 23 games before such crowds ... Creighton has started 3-0 or better in 15 of the last 17 seasons ... Creighton's only larger comeback win at CenturyLink Center Omaha came on Jan. 28, 2006 vs. Wichita State when CU trailed 25-6 and won 57-55 at the buzzer ... Creighton's 21-game home win streak is tied for the fifth-longest active streak nationally ... Creighton was just 1-8 last year when trailing at half, but is now 1-0 this season ... Creighton's previous largest comeback win under Greg McDermott was 17 points at San Diego State on Nov. 30, 2011.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creighton men qualify for 22nd NCAA Soccer Tournament in 23 years

OMAHA, Neb. – The Creighton men’s soccer team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time in 23 seasons when pairings were announced on on Monday afternoon.

No. 12 seed Creighton (14-3-2) will face the winner of a first-round contest between Denver (11-7-1) and Oregon State (11-7-1). The Bluejays will host a second-round match in the 48-team tournament on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12:30 p.m. CT inside Morrison Stadium. Creighton is 3-0-1 all-time against Denver and 1-0-1 against Oregon State.

Creighton, 10-2-0 at home this season and is 11-2-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches played at Morrison Stadium. The Jays were one of four BIG EAST squads to make the 2014 NCAA field joining No. 8 seed Georgetown, No. 11 seed Providence and Xavier. CU owns a 2-3-2 record against fellow NCAA Tourney teams this season.

The Jays came into Selection Monday at No. 9 nationally in the latest RPI released by the NCAA on Nov. 9.  The Bluejays’ at-large selection is their second consecutive since joining the BIG EAST Conference.

Creighton is now 28-18-6 overall in the NCAA Tournament all-time. The Bluejays have advanced to at least the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in six of their last 11 appearances. The Jays have made five total NCAA College Cup appearances (1996, 2000, 2002, 2011 and 2012).

Elmar Bolowich, the head coach of the Bluejays, recently guided teams to five consecutive NCAA College Cup appearances (Creighton – 2012, 2011 and North Carolina - 2010, 2009, 2008) and won a national title with the Tar Heels in 2001. This will be Bolowich's 19th NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach.

Creighton won its first BIG EAST men’s soccer regular season title this year with a 7-1-1 conference record and 14-2-2 mark overall. The Jays blanked 18 of 19 opponents in the first half this season and only once surrendered more than one goal in a match this year. CU posted 10 shutouts this season and allowed only 10 goals through 19 matches in 2014.

CU ranks at No. 3 nationally with a team goals against average of 0.51. The Jays rank No. 11 in shutout percentage at 0.53 and are No. 13 in save percentage at 0.836.

CU sophomore forward Fabian Herbers earned a unanimous selection from the BIG EAST coaches as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year. Junior Timo Pitter claimed BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year honors while Creighton’s coaching staff shared BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors with Xavier.

Herbers, Pitter and senior Jose Ribas were unanimous All-BIG EAST First team selections this season. Additionally, freshman Lucas Stauffer was also a unanimous selection on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team.

Pitter and Herbers were also named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team following the Bluejays’ 1-0 downfall to Providence in a conference semifinal on Friday.

Ticket Information

Men’s soccer season ticket holders can purchase their regular season seat locations for Sunday’s second-round match by stopping by the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office today from 2 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Season ticket holders can also purchase their regular season seat locations for Sunday afternoon’s second-round match by stopping by the Wayne & Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office tomorrow through Thursday from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Seats not purchased by season ticket holders by 12 p.m. on Friday will be made available to the general public starting at 1 p.m. on Friday. If season ticket holders are not able to purchase their season ticket locations during the allotted dates and times listed above, they are welcome to send someone down on their behalf to the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center Ticket Office to fill out a short order form and purchase the tickets.

Ticket prices for the second-round NCAA match are $20 (upper level adult reserved), $12 (upper level youth reserved), $10 (lower level adult reserved), $9 (lower level adult general admission), $7 (lower level youth reserved, ages 3-18) and $6 (lower level youth general admission, ages 3-18).

Starting tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. fans that are not season ticket holders can purchase available tickets to the second-round match at all Ticketmaster locations (Baker’s, Younkers), Ticketmaster online at or by calling Ticketmaster and charging by phone at 800-745-3000.

Parking Information

Men’s soccer supporters who received a packet of 2014 parking passes to Morrison Stadium’s Lot S or Lot C should use the one marked “Match 16 - NCAA Round 2” for entry to that area on Sunday.
Should Creighton win its second-round match Sunday afternoon and earn the chance to host a third-round match, that match would be played on Sunday, Nov 30 at 1 p.m. inside Morrison Stadium.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Cold November Day to resume Iowa Football at Illinois

Champaign, IL - - It has been 6 years, since the Iowa-Illinois rivalry has been played on the Gridiron in the Big Ten Conference. Since the 2008 season, there have been plenty of changes across the Big Ten and College Football landscape.

The BCS is gone. The new College Football Playoff has been born. The B1G is looking on the outside these days, with the play on the Gridiron.

Three new programs have joined the Big Ten, since Iowa and Illinois last played, in 2008. The Leaders and Legends divisions went bust, but today a new division has emerged, bringing back sooner the Iowa-Illinois game.

The Fighting Illini (4-5, 1-4 B1G West) will be coming off a bye week ahead of today's Iowa game, at Memorial Stadium, after an ugly 55-14 loss at Ohio State. And, sophomore quarterback Wes Lunt is scheduled to return from injury today, against the Hawkeyes.

Illinois third year head coach Tim Beckman grew up in Iowa City during his youth, as his father, Dave was an assistant for Iowa head coach Bob Commings for five end seasons, from 1974-78. He has one B1G win this season, after closing out October, with a 28-24 Homecoming win over Minnesota, fueled by the Golden Gophers mistakes and turnovers.

Illinois is going for their third B1G win in four seasons and first multiple conference win season, since 2011, when they won two B1G games, in Ron Zook's final season, in Champaign. The Fighting Illini

Beckman had this to say about getting his #1 quarterback back for Iowa.

"He (Wes Lunt) was back last week. I'm a firm believer that an injury really can't take your starting position. You deserved it. The injury was a misfortunate incident that happened. If he is healthy, which he is, he'll be our starting quarterback."

"He (Lunt) had a great week last week. It was great to see him out there. He was throwing the ball very well and I think the wide receivers got the sense that he was back out there on the football field. We had two great practices last week."

Iowa rolls into Champaign on a down note, after a 51-14 loss at Minnesota, last Saturday. Another trophy game lost for the Hawkeyes, in two games played this season. The Hawkeyes are now 6-3, 3-2 in B1G West chasing Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin, needing help in the Division race. The Golden Gophers took out their Champaign loss out on the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is facing their fourth straight opponent, who are coming off a bye week. Iowa smoked Northwestern at home 48-7, but lost at Maryland and at Minnesota, for their lone B1G losses, bookended between the B1G win at home over Northwestern to open November.

Iowa is 8-3, since 2006, in this series, but Illinois won the 2008 game 27-24, with a final minute field goal, in Champaign.

What will Saturday bring for two football teams coming off 50 to something losses?

"We've really done a great job as a coaching staff of using the bye weeks in a positive way. I still think it's very important that we go out as coaches and utilize those bye weeks for recruiting, but also these players have played a lot of snaps. Austin (Teitsma) has played quite a few snaps of football. They've been here since June 11th, so it's different from when I played - way different than when (OC Bill) Cubit played - but when I played at least we had some time off. I think when Cubit played, they had months off or something like that. I just think the way that we've handled them is the best for our student-athletes right now," Beckman shared at his weekly press conference.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the dean of Big Ten football coaches in his 16th season, was asked about facing so many teams, who are coming off bye weeks.

"We seem to be the object of quirks, I guess. But we're not the lone ranger. It's like anything, if you want to use that as a crutch, you can use it. But it still gets down to who plays the best Saturday. And certainly they've had a little bit more opportunity to rest or get ready. And I'm sure they'll do a good job taking advantage of that. We have ample time to get ready. It's not like this game is being played on Wednesday or Thursday. So it's really about what we do this week in terms of our preparation and most importantly what we do at 11:00 on Saturday," Ferentz replied his weekly press conference.

Lunt's return forces Iowa to prepare for three Illinois quarterbacks -- Lunt, senior Reilly O'Toole, and sophomore Aaron Bailey. Ferentz calls all three a little different, but make no mistake about it; the Illini will let the ball fly.

Illinois true freshman wide receiver Mike Dudek has emerged as a top target in the passing game. Dudek is second in yardage and tied for third in receptions in conference play, so the Iowa back 7 will be tested today in the air game.

Which team handles urgency better on Saturday?

Special teams have been a challenge for Iowa, impacting field position this season.  "Yeah, it was a big factor (last) Saturday, if you look at their starting position, average field position and ours, it was a huge factor Saturday, as well as turnovers, the basics, penalties, turnovers. And the deal Saturday was turnovers, special teams, I think. I mean, one of the deals. It's not as simple as that. But these guys have a great punter (Illinois senior Justin DuVernois); this guy is one of the best punters in the country. So if you look at it this season, overall punting is not a huge discrepancy between us and our opponents. I think it's about two, two and a half yards. It hasn't been a major factor, but Saturday certainly starting field position was really tilted their direction and that probably is part of the reason why we felt we were running up hill all day long," Ferentz noted heading into game with Illinois.

Turnovers have been a key role in Iowa's three losses on the year. Also, miscues, penalties and field position have played roles.

The battle in the trenches are always important for the old line coach, like Ferentz, or the son of an old line coach in Beckman?

It will be something to watch in Champaign today.

Ferentz pointed out, "I don't know if you charted this stuff or not, but Illinois probably blitzes more than most teams we've played the last couple of weeks at least. That's going to be a different set of challenges for us. And bottom line is it's a big part of passing games. To be successful you have to protect. You gotta give the quarterback time to get his feet set and go through his reads and progression, if there are some. But it all goes together. We've got to run better routes, get free better and catch the ball when it's there."

What will Iowa bring upfront on defense pressuring their opponent, against an Illinois passing attack and what coach Beckman mentioned reshuffling going on in the offensive line?

"We won't have Teddy (Karras), so we're going to have a new face at that guard position that Teddy has played for the three years since I've been here. I think that it will always be our main goal to keep our quarterback healthy and untouched. If that means keeping extra players in to protect, or whatever that means, then we have to have that happen," Beckman shared.

How will the running game play in today's game?

Iowa ranks eighth in the Big Ten at 160 yards per game. Senior Mark Weisman and redshirt freshman Akrum Wadley have emerged the 1-2 punch the past two games for Iowa. Wadley has Iowa's lone 100 yard game for the season, in his first game vs. Northwestern. Weisman shines best around the goal line scoring touchdowns, tied for third.

Illinois ranks 12th in run offense and last in run defense, so what transpires today at Memorial Stadium?  Iowa's run defense has slowly declined, as the B1G unfolds.

Is this a breakout game today for either team?

Iowa is bowl eligible, but they have three B1G games to close out the season at Illinois, then back to back home games with Wisconsin and Nebraska, who square off against one another in Madison on ABC at 2:30 p.m.

Illinois has three games against opponents they feel they can match up and steal a win, with Iowa, Penn State and at Northwestern to close out B1G regular season.

Our pick: Iowa 24, Illinois 16 in the 70th meeting in the Iowa-Illinois series. It is a rivalry, without the trophy, but another of four border wars for Iowa to close out 2014 B1G season. 

Today's game will be televised live on BTN at 11 a.m. with Cory Provus, J Leman and Rebecca Harlow on the call.

Creighton rolls in first post-Doug McDermott game to open 2014-15 regular season

OMAHA, Neb. -- Rick Kreklow had a career-high 18 points to lead six men in double-figures as Creighton Men's Basketball won its 20th straight home opener, 104-77, over Central Arkansas on Friday night.

The game was played before 18,160 fans, the largest crowd in school history for an opener.

The Bluejays held UCA without a field goal for the first six minutes, quickly building an 14-1 lead at the start. Creighton never trailed, the eighth time in the last 15 years CU has led wire-to-wire in its opener.

The Jays led 55-34 at the half and extended the lead to as much as 38 (80-42) before a late flurry of baskets by the visiting Bears, who were playing their first game under new head coach Russ Pennell and returned just one player from last year's eight-win team.

In addition to Kreklow's 18 points, Isaiah Zierden poured in a career-best 16 points in his first game since tearing a patellar tendon in his knee last March. James Milliken debuted with 13 points, Devin Brooks had 12 and Austin Chatman added 10 points. In addition, Will Artino had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes for his second career double-double.

Creighton shot 48.6 percent from the field, 9-of-26 from three-point range and 25-of-30 at the line. The Jays won the rebound battle 45-28 and outscored UCA 46-22 in the paint.

Boo Milligan had 18 points and seven rebounds before fouling out, while Jordan Howard had 11 of his game-high 19 points after halftime. UCA shot 46.4 percent from the field, including 45.8 percent from three-point range, and also sank 14-of-20 free throws.

Creighton returns to action on Sunday at 4:30 pm for a game vs. Chicago State (0-1). The contest will be televised and air nationally on FOX Sports 1.

NOTES: Each of Creighton's last six teams to score 90 or more points in the season-opener went on to the NCAA Tournament ... Creighton has won 31 straight home games against winless teams ... Creighton is now 45-0 all-time in regular-season home games played on or before Nov. 26th ... Creighton improved to 82-15 all-time on Opening Day, including 17 wins in its last 18 lid-lifters ... Greg McDermott has won 13 straight season-openers ... Before Rick Kreklow, the last Bluejay with 18 points or more in his debut was P'Allen Stinnett's 23 in 2007. Stinnett went on to win MVC Freshman of the Year honors ... Toby Hegner joined Ryan Sears (1997-98) and Doug McDermott (2010-11) as the only freshmen in the last 20 years to start CU's season-opener ... Creighton hasn't trailed in 49 of its 187 all-time games at CenturyLink Center Omaha ... Creighton has not lost a Friday home game since 1975 and won every Friday home game since Dec. 2, 1989 by double-digits ... Creighton has won 19 straight home games, the nation's eighth-longest active streak. CU hasn't trailed in the second half during any of those ... Creighton has won 21 straight games when scoring 100 points or more and improved to 49-2 when doing so ... Each of Creighton's last seven teams to have a double-double in the opener went on to either win its conference in the regular-season or postseason tournament.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Battle for Floyd: Iowa at Minnesota at 11 a.m. on ESPN2

Minneapolis - - The Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers are each 6-2, 3-1 in B1G West. The winner claims Floyd of Rosedale for the season, as well as a 4-1 division record and a tie for first place in the Division with Nebraska.

Neither Iowa nor Minnesota have won a B1G Division title over the first three years of B1G division play. This year's new division comes down to November for Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin as everyone squares of with each other.

Minnesota's last B1G title was 1967, with Indiana. Iowa's last B1G title was ten years ago with Michigan. After six straight losses in the trophy game with Michigan, the Golden Gophers claimed the Little Old Jug.

Iowa has lost a trophy game this season, with a 20-17 lost to Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk Trophy Game. Iowa comes into TFL Bank Stadium off an impressive win at home over Northwestern to open November.

Minnesota lost at Illinois to close out October on a low note. The Godlen Gophers enjoyed a bye week to get healthy for the Battle of Floyd of Rosedale. Minnesota still has three players dinged, with sophomore WR Drew Wolitarsky clearly out. Sophomore OL Ben Lauer and junior Alex Keith are nursing injuries too.

Iowa is beginning to get players back at practice as the full week of November began, head coach Kirk Ferentz reported this week. The Dean of Big Ten coaches (16 years) won his first Minnesota game in 2001. It was Ferentz's first bowl team at Iowa. He is. 10-3 vs. Minnesota, since 2001.

Head coach Jerry Kill is in his fourth season at Minnesota. He is 1-2 vs. Iowa.

2011 - Minnesota 22, Iowa 21 in Minneapolis
2012 - Iowa 31, Minnesota 13 in Iowa City
2013 - Iowa 23, Minnesota 7, in Minneapolis

Iowa's offensive and defensive coordinators are 2-0 vs. Minnesota in those position roles. Iowa has two losses this season, so which team will arrive in Minneapolis and what does Kirk Ferentz, OC Greg Davis and DC Phil Parker have in store for Iowa? Can the Hawkeyes make it three in role?

Some things to watch in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale:

1. Minnesota sophomore QB Mitch Leidner and sophomore TE Maxx Williams on play action. Minnesota is a running team, with play action the main passing avenue. Iowa must slow senior RB David Cobb.

2. Explosive plays - Iowa OC Greg Davis preaches winning explosives and turnover battles. What gives today in those areas and special teams?

3. The battle of the line of scrimmage will be a huge key for both phases of the game. Iowa has shut out Minnesota the past two seasons in the first half. In Minnesota's most recent loss, they Illini got out to a 14 point lead. Turnovers were a big problem for the Golden Gophers in the loss. Illinois won on a fumble return for a touchdown.

4. Leadership will be critical. Maryland leaned on senior leadership in their Homecoming win over Iowa. Who brings it better from a leadership standpoint: Iowa or Minnesota?

5. Iowa junior Jake Rudock and the Iowa passing offense lead the Big Ten heading into the second half of conference race. How will weather conditions impact the passing and special teams today?

6. Iowa senior RB Mark Weisman has become a good TD producer in the red zone lately. Who takes care of business in the red zone. Iowa's offensive line has only produced one 100 yard back this season, with redshirt Akrum Wadley going over the century mark in his debut as a backup RB.

7. Iowa needs the TEs and WRs to click at Minnesota. The Northwestern game was good for the wide receivers, after a tough loss at Maryland to close October. Does junior WR Tevaun Smith get early targets to get on track in the Iowa air game?

Iowa has been averaging 27 lately in last two wins. Does the defense hold the Golden Gophers to 10 points? Minnesota is 2-1 at TCF Bank Stadium against Iowa, with close wins in 2010 and 2011. Iowa has played 4 of last 5 in this series in Minneapolis.

Today's Pick:

Iowa - 27
Minnesota -10

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy All Saints Day: Iowa vs. Northwestern on the Big Ten Network at 11 a.m.

Iowa City, IA - - The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1 B1G West) return to action off a 1-1 October and bye week for a five game November slate beginning with Northwestern (3-4, 2-2 B1G West), which has become a competitive series, since the 1995 win by the Wildcats.

Is it a rivalry?

There is no trophy for the victory, but it is symbolic of a rose. With a loss, the opponent becomes a thorn, with a win there is a sense of the bloom of a rose, that you live another day, with the opportunity to compete for a division title.

Northwestern calls this series a rivalry. Northwestern coach Fitzgerald circles this game, due to what the rivalry meant during his playing days at Northwestern.

From 1974 to 1994, Iowa won 21 straight games. The series turned with three games from 1995-1997. All Northwestern wins in the final seasons of J. Hayden Fry at Iowa.

Today, forty years from the beginning of Iowa's 21 season dominance, this game will play a major role on whether Iowa competes for It's first B1G West division title over the next five games?

Forty years ago I enjoyed my first season in Kinnick Stadium. It included a win over Northwestern, a 35-10 win. Iowa has won two straight at Kinnick in this series recently, including last year's 17-10 win in OT.

The Hawkeyes have struggled at times throughout the 2014 season. Falling behind by 10 points in several games. Last year, Iowa took an early 10 point lead, only to find themselves stall. They pulled it together in overtime.

Can Iowa compete for a B1G West division title in 2014? It begins today vs. Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium.

Our pick: either a 31-15 win, or a 13-10 slugfest, that could go either way.

Peace be to you, on All Saints Day! Miss you Dad, his first Northwestern game, since his death.