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Rivalries take center stage in the Big Ten this week.
One Sweet Pig
It was 75 years ago that a pig played peacemaker, and with that a rivalry began. Here is how the legend goes …
Angered by Minnesota’s style of play the year before, Iowa Governor Clyde Herring stated that the 1935 contest between the Hawkeyes and Gophers would be a cleaner game, and if not the Iowa fans would stand as judge and jury. Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson settled the tense situation by suggesting the two states bet their prized hogs on the contest. After Minnesota won, 13–6, Herring brought a pig from Rosedale Farms to Olson’s office, appropriately dubbed, Floyd of Rosedale. Olson later commissioned a bronze statue be constructed.
In a weekend in which Michigan and Ohio State is most present on the minds of Big Ten fans, the battle for Floyd will get overlooked. Iowa is finishing what’s been a frustrating season, while Minnesota administrators are ready for this season to end so that they may begin to rebuild a program that has been sputtering for some time.
But make no mistake: Both teams take fighting for Floyd very seriously. Here are a few notes on this series:
• Minnesota has 39 wins to Iowa’s 34, with two ties.
• The Gophers won 10 of the series first 11 meetings.
• Iowa has been the better team in recent years, having won eight of the last nine.
• The Gophers have failed to score a point in each of the past two years.
The battle for Floyd of Rosedale appears to be one-sided again this year, as Iowa possesses the more experienced and talented team. But if Minnesota showed anything in its last contest it is that it’s not ready to give up fighting. There is one more fight to go, one more opportunity to save face. And if there is anything that can bring a little joy to Gopher fans this season, it would be to bring that sweet pig back to Minnesota.
Week 12 Scoreboard
Penn State 41, Indiana 21
Michigan State 35, Purdue 31
Wisconsin 48, Michigan 28
Illinois 48, Northwestern 27
Ohio State 20, Iowa 17
Saturday’s intra-state clash between Northwestern and Illinois was interesting, to say the least. Due to limited space surrounding the east end zone, both teams had to start possessions going in the same direction — with one exception: Brian Peters’ 59-yard interception return for a score. Illinois coach Ron Zook said he’d love to play another game at the historic venue. No word yet on what Big Ten officials think about continuing the Wrigley game.
Another big day for McGloin
Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin took apart Indiana in the second half of his team’s win on Saturday. McGloin finished the game 22 of 31 with 315 yards and two touchdowns. In four starts McGloin has led Penn State to a 3–1 record with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Posey almost drops Ohio State’s BCS hopes
In a play that could have ruined Ohio State’s season, DeVier Posey let a perfectly placed Terrelle Pryor pass fall through his arms in the end zone. The third down drop would have been the game-winner. Instead, Pryor saved his junior receiver by continuing the drive and finishing off the Hawkeyes.
Team of the Week: Ohio State
With their season hanging by a thread, quarterback Terrelle Pryor picked up a first down on a fourth-and-10, then led the Buckeyes down the field toward victory. This may be a disappointing year for Iowa, but winning in Iowa City is no easy task, and the Buckeyes got it done with plenty riding on the outcome.
Disappointment of the Week: Michigan State
So what if Michigan State battled back, it had trailed an inferior Purdue squad all game — in East Lansing, no less. Had the Boilermakers not committed a 10-yard penalty and had a punt blocked on their second-to-last possession, the Spartans season would be over.
Offensive Player of the Week: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Illinois’ junior back had been on a roll entering Saturday’s contest, but no one could have guessed he would gain 330 yards against a Wildcat defense that had been allowing just 137.4 yards on the ground per game. Leshoure averaged 10.0 yards per carry for an Illini team that gained a total of 519 yards on the ground. His only two scores both came in the game’s first five minutes.
Defensive Player of the Week: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
The junior defensive lineman was his usual dominant self in the win over the Wolverines. Watt finished with six tackles and was disruptive on several other plays. He batted two Denard Robinson passes into the air, the second of which he caught and returned 15 yards. That play helped nail the coffin shut on Michigan.
Freshman of the Week: James White, RB, Wisconsin
White had 200 yards of total offense (181 rushing, 19 passing) on 25 touches and scored twice in Wisconsin’s convincing win over Michigan. Sure, much of his success can be attributed to the Badgers’ mammoth line, but White has proven week after week that he can be just as dangerous for Wisconsin as veteran back John Clay.
The Week Ahead
Upset Alert: Michigan State
The last time the Spartans came to Beaver Stadium, Mark Dantonio’s club was clobbered in a game that wasn’t as close as the 49–18 score suggests. Penn State is not that same team, but they are fully capable of handling a Spartans team that needed all of its ammo to beat Purdue last week.
Player to Watch: Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota
The Big Ten’s most experienced passer will end his career at home against an Iowa secondary that ranks seventh in the conference in passing yards allowed (217.9 per contest). The Hawkeyes rank first in team interceptions, so Weber must make wise decisions if he is to help Minnesota stay with the Hawkeyes for four quarters.
Only two Big Ten defenders are averaging more than nine tackles per game: Michigan’s Jonas Mouton and Illinois’ Martez Wilson. Last season’s leading tackler, Michigan State’s Greg Jones, ranks third.
Ohio State has a chance to close the gap in its all-time series with that team from up north. Michigan still holds a 57–43–6 advantage, but the Buckeyes have won the last six meetings.
The Badgers rank second in the country in team rushing touchdowns, trailing only Nevada, 44 to 41. Air Force and Auburn are the only other FBS schools with more than 35 rushing scores.
Purdue 28, Indiana 21
Penn State 27, Michigan State 24
Ohio State 38, Michigan 14
Iowa 45, Minnesota 7
Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 13