photo courtesy of: http://nutmeg.easternct.edu/mt-static/athletics/ncaa-logo.gif
The Big Ten Legends division is coming off of a solid performing week. The Legends Division combined to go 5-1, but it did see the highest rank team within the division, Michigan State, suffer its first loss. Michigan State had been the lone remaining National Title contender for the division, but there are still several bowl hopefuls remaining. Coaches reflected on the positives and negatives of this week during the Big Ten teleconference.
Iowa 2-1, Unranked
Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, they had a player come up with a big performance to help them edge Northern Iowa 27-16. Mark Weismann rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns to help pull out the victory for Iowa. The Hawkeyes bounced back from a tough loss to Iowa State last week through the tough running of Weismann.
The Hawkeyes defense played solid only allowing 94 rushing yards and 339 for the game. Despite the excellent play from Weismann, Iowa’s running back situation is still in flux. Weismann is more of a fullback so it is unsure if he can keep up this level of play in a less familiar position.
However, the Hawkeyes were pleased with his performance and the win. Coach Ferentz appeared to be satisfied with his team’s play, but realizes there are improvements that need to be made. “It was good to get the win. We needed to play well and play hard and our guys did that. We are ready to turn the page and get ready for Central Michigan. It [the win] was a positive step for our team, but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Hawkeyes will face Central Michigan at home at 12pm in a game that will be aired on The Big Ten Network.
Michigan 2-1, No. 18 AP/No. 17 USA Today
Michigan was able to pick up their second straight win with a 63-13 thrashing of UMASS. Denard Robinson continued his excellent play with four touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground. Robinson finished with 291 passing yards and 106 rushing yards. The Wolverines will now prepare to face the 3-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish who are coming off of a big win over Michigan State.
Michigan is no stranger to being in the national spotlight. To open the season, Michigan took on the defending national champion in Alabama. The Wolverines hope their experience in this type of high profile game will give them an edge over Notre Dame. Both the players and their leader head coach Brady Hoke realize the importance and significance of this game. “Obviously this is a special week for us. It is a great rivalry game. It’s a fun game to be a part of both as a coach and a player. We were pleased with our performance last week, but we need to make improvements for this week.
The Wolverines will travel to South Bend on Saturday to take on the Irish at 7:30pm in a game that will be televised on NBC.
Michigan State 2-1, No. 21 AP/No. 20 USA Today
Michigan State is coming off of a tough loss to the surging Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Their offense was somewhat stagnant as they only mustered three points falling 20-3 to the Irish. The Spartans were held to 237 total yards by a tough Notre Dame defense.
Although frustrated with the loss, Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio realize it needs to be put behind them. “It was a tough loss this last weekend. It was hard, but we want to get back on the right path. We are moving forward.”
The Spartans will hope to revitalize the offensive game plan to the unit back on track. The Spartans will get the chance to bounce back and sort out their issues this week when they take on instate rival Eastern Michigan. The Spartans will welcome the Eagles on Saturday at 3:30 in a game that will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
Minnesota 3-0, Unranked
A.J Barker caught three touchdown passes to help Minnesota stay undefeated and beat Western Michigan 28-23. The Gophers continue their hot streak and played solid in every area of the game. The Gophers quarterbacks combined to toss four touchdown passes, three from Max Shortell and one from MarQueis Gray. Running back Donnell Kirkwood rushed for 110 yards helping to keep the Gophers offense balanced.
The Gophers are taking the season on a game by game basis. Despite their undefeated record and solid start to the year, head coach Jerry Kill realizes it is important to focus on their next opponent, the Syracuse Orange, and prepare so they can keep up the success. “We are in hard preparation for Syracuse. We are going to have to step up our game and continue to improve on the field. Syracuse is a team that is gifted with some very good skill players and we are going to have to play very well to compete.”
The Gophers will hope to extend their winning streak to four games when they face the Orange at 8pm on Saturday in a game that will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
Nebraska 2-1, No. 25 AP/No. 22 USA Today
Behind extremely efficient play from quarterback Taylor Martinez, Nebraska was able to bounce back from their tough loss to UCLA and rout Arkansas State 42-13. Martinez went 13 of 14 throwing for 180 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 54 yards and another score. The Cornhuskers rushing attack outmatched Arkansas State’s defense immensely. Ameer Abdullah rushed for 167 yards and two scores for the Cornhuskers while their additional running back Imani Cross added a rushing touchdown as well.
Despite recent success, the Cornhuskers are looking forward to getting into conference play. Head coach Bo Pelini discussed this during the weekly B1G teleconference. “We are looking forward to the week coming up and playing Idaho State. We are ready to finish up our non-conference schedule and get into conference play. We are working to get better each and every day this week and preparing for the Big Ten schedule.”
The Cornhuskers will take on their final non-conference opponent this week when they face Idaho State. This game will be played Saturday at 3:30pm and televised on the Big Ten Network.
Northwestern 3-0, Unranked
Yet again, Northwestern came up big in crunch time to pull out a 22-13 victory over Boston College. With 1:37 left in the fourth quarter, Mike Trumpy broke of a 27 yard touchdown run to seal the game for the Wildcats.
For a program that is looking to turn the corner, Northwestern has sure gotten off on the right track in terms of success for the season. With a 3-0 start, this season is looking promising for the Wildcats lead by Head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald believes his team is beginning to shape up and as the B1G conference games near, this is ever important. “I think we are starting to gel together. Through every practice rep, guys are pushing each other. Philosophically, I believe good players become great and great players become special through competition.”
The Wildcats will look to continue their great start on Saturday when they take on South Dakota on Saturday at 3:30pm in a game that will be shown on the Big Ten Network
As B1G conference play nears, teams in the Legends Division are preparing to finalize game plans and make adjustments so they can be successful. The B1G is up for grabs this year and there are several teams anxious to get a shot at the title. Week by week, we can only watch and see how these young collegiate athletes mature and what kind of success will follow.