We’re stuck in the middle of November now and there is no busier month on the calendar for the NCAA. Basketball and football clash. How’s a Big Ten fan to keep up?
Well, here’s how: Be sure to visit this column every Monday. I’ll give you my 14 random thoughts, quotes and interesting facts through the end of the basketball season. Let’s call it “The B1G Ten.”
1. Poor Tevin Coleman. The Indiana running back rushed for 307 yards and a touchdown Saturday. No one cares, though, because of Melvin Gordon’s monster day. In case your T.V. went out Saturday, Wisconsin’s Gordon ran for a single-game FBS record of 408 yards against Nebraska.
2. Speaking of Nebraska, does that team have any grit? Coach Bo Pelini’s teams get hit in the mouth once and then curl up.
Saturday they led 17-3 in the second quarter. Then Gordon ripped off 62-yard touchdown run—the first of 56 unanswered points for Wisconsin. With a game against Minnesota this week it looks like, possibly, another four-loss season for Pelini and Nebraska.
3. In one of the greatest wins in program history, Northwestern beat Notre Dame 43-40 in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium. With the win, the Wildcats improve to 4-6.
4. I was pretty ecstatic that basketball season started over the weekend and then Big Ten football had its best week yet. Gordon ran for the record, Northwestern won in South Bend and the conference’s only game between ranked opponents—Ohio State at Minnesota–played close.
Even Virginia Tech beat No. 21 Duke 17-16. That helps the Buckeyes ever so slightly in their quest to make the College Football Playoff. Ohio State’s only loss is to Virginia Tech.
5. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said at Monday’s press conference he got congratulatory calls and texts from all the Big Ten coaches after the team’s win at Notre Dame.
6. Through one game, Michigan State point guard Travis Trice has done well taking over for the graduated Keith Appling. Trice was the Big Ten Player of the Week, scoring 25 points in the Spartans opener. Seventeen of those points came in the second half.
7. Ohio State should move up at least one spot, to seventh, in the College Football Playoff rankings after No. 6 Arizona State lost its second game of the season to Oregon State.
8. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett seems destined to win the conference’s Freshman of the Year award. He won a record-tying sixth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award Monday. But don’t sleep on Northwestern running back Justin Jackson.
Jackson will run for over 1,000 yards this season behind an offensive line that has been subpar.
9. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on calling runs for Barrett at his Monday press conference: “I don’t mind that because he’s pretty good at getting down, but we’ve got to limit the quarterback run calls, but we have. We’re not nearly like we were a few years ago.”
10. And one more things on Barrett: It will be pretty hard to sit him down next year when Braxton Miller returns from a season-long injury. Barrett has to get some snaps, right?
11. The Big Ten has nine teams that are bowl eligible. Three teams—Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan—still have a shot to get the requisite three wins.
12. Kudos to Michigan State on its win at Maryland. After losing at home to Ohio State the week prior in a game that knocked the Spartans out of contention to be selected into the College Football Playoff, that looked like a game that Michigan State would lose.
13. The only thing that went wrong for Big Ten basketball fans? Rutgers lost 70-53 to George Washington on Friday.
14. None of the Big Ten football games this week seem all that exciting. But Michigan State plays Duke in basketball on Tuesday.