Around the Big Ten: Week 4

Story posted September 24, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Justin Rocke

Michigan State (2-1) vs. Central Michigan (1-2)        12:00 PM ET

It was a long fall from grace for Mark D’Antonio’s Michigan State squad this week. The Spartans entered last week’s rivalry matchup against Notre Dame ranked number 15 in the country and left it out of the top 25. The Spartans’ lack of a ground attack cost them, as both Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker ran for less than 30 yards, forcing senior quarterback Kirk Cousins to throw the ball 53 times. Michigan State will face off against a weak Central Michigan team led by junior quarterback Ryan Radcliff who threw for 215 yards in last week’s loss against Western Michigan. This is the first matchup between the two schools since 2009 when Central Michigan edged Michigan State, 29-27.

No. 22 Michigan (3-0) vs. San Diego State (3-0)         12:00 PM ET

It’s a battle of old versus new for Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. Hoke will be facing off against a San Diego State squad which he led to a 9-4 record and a Poinsettia Bowl victory just a season ago. The Wolverines are back in the top 25 after last week’s 31-3 drubbing of Eastern Michigan. Michigan’s rushing attack looked stellar as the team ran for a combined 376 yards. Quarterback Denard Robinson ran for 198 yards and a touchdown and running back Vincent Smith added an additional 118 yards. This the first meeting between the two schools since a, 24-21, Michigan victory back in 2004.

Iowa (2-1) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (1-2)                                    12:00 PM ET

After a heartbreaking loss to in-state rivals Iowa State two weeks ago, Iowa seemed to successfully right the ship last week against Pittsburgh. Trailing 24-3 in the second half, the Hawkeyes came roaring back for the largest comeback victory in school history. Iowa was led by an impressive performance from quarterback James Vandenberg who threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Receivers Keenan Davis and Marvin McNutt benefitted from Vanderberg’s performance as the two combined for 18 catches for 241 yards and a touchdown. Louisiana-Monroe will be led by sophomore wide receiver Tavarese Maye who had four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to 23rd ranked TCU. This is the first meeting in the history of these two schools.

Ohio State (2-1) vs. Colorado (1-2)                                3:30 PM ET

For the first time since 2004, Ohio State enters a weekend matchup unranked. The Buckeyes dropped out of the top 25 after an embarrassing 24-6 loss to Miami (FL) last weekend. Ohio State got a decent performance from junior running back Jordan Hall, who rushed for 87 yards, but it was the extremely poor performance from their quarterbacks that did the Buckeyes in. Starting quarterback Joe Bauserman went a dismal 2-of-14 passing for a measly 13 yards. After losing two straight to start the season, Colorado picked up a much-needed victory last week against in-state rivals Colorado State. The Buffaloes were led by senior quarterback Tyler Hansen who threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. This is the first meeting between the two schools since 1986, where Ohio State knocked off Colorado 13-10 at Ohio Stadium.

No. 6 Wisconsin (3-0) vs. South Dakota (2-1)             3:30 PM ET

As we enter week four of the college football season, Wisconsin is still looking for a challenge from their opponent. The Badgers easily disposed of Northern Illinois last week, 49-7. Senior quarterback Russell Wilson lit up the Husky secondary, completing 23-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers have defeated their opponents by an average score of 45-8 so far this season and will look to extend their regular season non-conference win streak to 32 games on Saturday. The Coyotes will look to establish their run game after rushing for 246 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in last week’s victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State. This is the first meeting between the two schools since 1975 when Wisconsin defeated South Dakota 48-7 in Madison.

No. 24 Illinois (3-0) vs. Western Michigan (2-1)        3:30 PM ET

For the first time in three years, Illinois is in the top 25 and is 3-0 for the first time since 2001. The Fighting Illini have not slowed down after losing stars like running back Mike Leshoure, defensive lineman Corey Liuget and linebacker Martez Wilson to the NFL. Illinois is riding high after last weekend’s 17-14 upset victory over then 22nd ranked Arizona State. The Fighting Illini got a strong performance from senior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in last week’s triumph. Western Michigan will need a big performance from junior quarterback Alex Carder, who threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns last week, if they want to come away with a victory. The Broncos won the most recent matchup between the two schools 23-17 in 2008 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Minnesota (1-2) vs. North Dakota State (2-0)                        7:00 PM ET

With Jerry Kill back, Minnesota could finally put the horrific images of his seizure on the sideline against USC behind them. Behind a strong performance from junior quarterback Marqueis Gray, Minnesota picked up its first win of the season, a 29-23 victory against Miami (Ohio). Gray ran for 171 yards and threw for 163 more in the win. North Dakota State will try and establish their run game with the help of sophomore running back Sam Ojuri, who ran for 165 yards and a touchdown in their last game against St. Francis (PA). This is the first meeting between the two programs since 2007, when North Dakota State upset Minnesota, 27-21.

Indiana (1-2) at North Texas (0-3)                                7:00 PM ET

It took a while, but Kevin Wilson finally picked up his first victory as the head coach of Indiana last weekend against South Carolina State. The Hoosiers thrived last week by having a balanced attack on offense as the team accumulated 557 yards of total offense. Indiana got a strong performance from sophomore quarterback Edward Wright-Baker who completed 21-of-27 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. The Hoosiers will be going up against a very poor North Texas squad. The Mean Green enter Saturday’s showdown allowing over 43 points per game on defense while only scoring 13 points per game on offense. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

No. 9 Nebraska (3-0) at Wyoming (3-0)                                   7:30 PM ET

Nebraska will be going through one last tune up before their Big Ten opener next weekend against Wisconsin. Nebraska’s defense will be looking to improve after surrendering 38 points in last weekend’s victory over Washington. The defense may have struggled, but the Nebraska offense was firing on all cylinders. The Cornhuskers accumulated 464 yards of total offense last weekend with 309 yards coming on the ground. Nebraska’s rushing offense was spearheaded by junior running back Rex Burkhead, who surpassed the century mark last week, rushing for 120 yards and two scores in the 51-38 victory. Wyoming will look to throw the ball, even against a tough Nebraska secondary led by star cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. The Cowboy passing attack is led by freshman quarterback Brett Smith, who threw for 267 yards and a touchdown in last week’s victory against Bowling Green.  This is the first meeting between the two schools since 1994, when Nebraska defeated Wyoming 42-32 on their way to winning the national championship.

Justin Rocke is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email jmr5829@psu.edu.