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Football Tue Oct 19 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgIt's Big Ten Monday, unless it's possibly Tuesday already, but there's still time to sink our brain teeth into Wisconsin's big win against Ohio State and the continuing excellence of Michigan State and Iowa.

Come along as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, because they own this town).

Best win -- Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 18

Best Bachman Turner Overdrive* -- Purdue 28, Minnesota 17

Et cetera -- Iowa 38, Michigan 28 ... Michigan State 26, Illinois 6 ... Indiana 36, Arkansas State 34 ... Notre Dame 44, Western Michigan 20.

Sitting this one out -- Northwestern, Penn State

Best Charley Steiner** -- Wisconsin's offense line

uw line.PNGGabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler and Ricky Wagner earn our most literal "Follow Me to Freedom" award of the season after leading the Badgers to their biggest win in Bret Bielema's five seasons. It was a classic something's-got-to-give matchup -- Wisconsin came in ranked 12th nationally with 232.7 rushing yards per game and Ohio State was 12th with 93.7 rushing yards allowed -- and the Buckeyes gave first.

The Badgers did their best work early, riding David Gilreath's 97-yard kickoff return and two John Clay rushing touchdowns to a 21-0 lead a few minutes into the second quarter. Those two scoring drives were works of bruising beauty: 58 yards in 6 plays, including 5 runs, and 89 yards in 19 plays, including 15 runs.

Ohio State recovered and rallied to within 21-18 with 11:38 remaining -- it really was a "Cut the head off!!!" performance worthy of the unkillable Yankees or Duke basketball team -- but Wisconsin steadied the ship with a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive.

James White, Clay's young compatriot, finished the drive with a 12-yard run, giving the Badgers a nigh-insurmountable 10-point lead with less than seven minutes left. He ended the night with 75 yards on 17 carries, while Clay rushed 21 times for 104 yards.

They have a group of massive linemen -- each at least 6 feet 4 and 313 pounds -- to thank for that.

Best celebrity impersonator -- Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

bret bielema.jpgrob riggle.PNGNotre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist is a dead ringer for former SNL comedian Will Forte, but I can't look at Bielema (far right) anymore without thinking of Rob Riggle (near right).

Specifically, I like to picture the coach as Peter Selleck, the rambunctious, overgrown 10-year-old Riggle played in "The Goods," last year's otherwise atrocious Jeremy Piven movie. Except probably Bielema is not being sexually harassed by a car-selling cougar.

Best sigh of relief -- Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

The best 12 o'clock game was for a long time a slugfest where any play that gained more than 10 yards felt like a touchdown. Even the Spartans' vaunted running game couldn't get going against the much-improved Illinois defense.

So imagine Cousins' relief when MSU finally broke through for the game's first touchdown -- midway through the third quarter -- after the Illini secondary failed to cover for a cornerback blitz and left B.J. Cunningham running free down the left hash. Cousins hit him with a 48-yard touchdown pass, breaking a 6-6 tie, and celebrated almost wearily, raising his arms and pumping his fist seemingly in relief as much as anything.

Best vote of confidence -- Ron Zook, Illinois

The Zookster says Michigan State is the best team the Illini have played this season -- and they lost 24-13 to Ohio State two weeks ago. Who's going to argue when the Spartans, 7-0 for the first time in 44 years, are ranked 7th in the BCS standings and tied with Auburn, LSU and TCU for the best record in the country? (Oklahoma, Oregon, Boise State, Missouri, Utah, Oklahoma State and Nevada are all 6-0.)

Best game-clincher -- Adam Robinson, Iowa

Iowa led 35-28 with 3:44 remaining against the erratic but dangerous Wolverines -- doesn't that describe most Wolverines? -- when Robinson saved the day by gaining 26 yards on third-and-8. He caught a swing pass in the left flat and embarrassed Michigan cornerback Courney Avery, a true freshman, in a one-on-one tackling situation at the line of scrimmage. Robinson juked left, Avery flailed at nothing and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos cleared the way with a downfield block. Robinson gained the first down easily and broke two more tackles before he was dragged down at the Michigan 14-yard line.

The Hawkeyes were well within field-goal range, and they cashed in a few plays later, Michael Meyer's 30-yarder boosting the margin to an unassailable 38-28.


Worth watching -- Wisconsin at Iowa

Also -- Michigan State at Northwestern ... Purdue at Ohio State ... Penn State at Minnesota ... Indiana at Illinois ... Notre Dame at Navy.

* Bachman Turner Overdrive: "Taking care of business"
** Charley Steiner: "Follow me to freedom"

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nothing but limericks / October 19, 2010 8:40 PM

Well last week was a tough one to take,
Our win streak the Badgers did break,
But into the 'Shoe
This week it's Purdue,
Let's hope that the Bucks are awake!

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