Iowa's secondary led the way for the Hawkeyes rout of Sparty.
No small number
A win for Penn State this weekend will get Joe Paterno to win No. 400. It’s just another win for Paterno, whose focus is and always has been on his players and their progress, but it’s an amazing total nonetheless. Ridiculous, almost. Consider this:
• If you add up Woody Hayes’ and Jim Tressel’s Ohio State wins (307) you’d still be almost 100 victories shy of Paterno’s total. Michigan coaching legends Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler together fall about 40 wins shy.
• At the age of 65, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier does not have half as many wins as Paterno at his three Division I stops combined (183).
• Only seven men in history have more than 250 Division 1 victories.
During his 45 years on the sideline, Paterno has guided Penn State to five undefeated seasons and 24 bowl wins. More impressive than all of that — in those 45 years he has suffered through just five losing seasons.
This week’s contest will be no picnic — none of Penn State’s games have been this year — but you have to think that at home, in front of a packed Beaver Stadium crowd, the Nittany Lions have plenty of motivation to beat Northwestern — picking up a third straight victory, earning bowl eligibility, and getting Joe Pa to uncharted territory.
But while you appreciate that milestone — 400 career wins — appreciate this: In Penn State’s last five seasons (2005 to 2009) the team’s winning percentage has been .797 — better than Paterno’s career average of .751.
Paterno built the program into a powerhouse not long after taking the reins from Rip Engle, and he’s kept it there ever since.
The Week That Was
Northwestern 20, Indiana 17
Illinois 44, Purdue 10
Iowa 37, Michigan State 6
Penn State 41, Michigan 31
Ohio State 52, Minnesota 10
Wildcats are bowl bound
Thanks to an outstanding performance by sophomore running back Mike Trumpy (164 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches), Northwestern beat Indiana to claim its sixth win of the season. It’s the fourth consecutive season that coach Pat Fitzgerald has guided his club to the mark.
The Buckeyes roll at Minnesota
Things began slowly for Jim Tressel’s club on Saturday evening, but eventually Ohio State took command of its game against Minnesota. Four offensive players scored touchdowns in the opening half, and Ohio State got 14 points in the second half thanks to touchdowns scored off a blocked punt and fumble return. It was the fifth time Ohio State won a game by 35 or more points this season.
Illinois blasts Purdue
Illinois’ stout defense limited Purdue to just 52 yards of passing in Saturday’s lopsided victory. Ron Zook’s club took an early lead and then exploded for 20 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. The Illinois defense limited the Boilermakers to two successful third down tries in 14 attempts, while the offense collected 24 first downs to Purdue’s nine.
Team of the Week: Iowa
The Hawkeyes were favored to win on Saturday because the game was played in Iowa City, but no one expected them to dominate the previously unbeaten Spartans. The Tyler Sash-to-Micah Hyde first-quarter interception return for a touchdown blew the game wide open, and was one of three picks by the Hawkeyes defense.
Disappointment of the Week: Michigan
Beaver Stadium is an unfriendly environment, but Michigan fans still didn’t expect their team to lose to an under-performing Penn State squad on Saturday. As it was, the Nittany Lions held a 28–10 halftime advantage and finished the game with almost a 15-minute advantage in time of possession. The Wolverines had no answer for Penn State’s running game, and despite another big night from Denard Robinson just couldn’t keep pace.
Offensive Player of the Week: Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
Finally! Royster came up huge for his team last week, carrying 29 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns — his first multiple-touchdown effort of the year and just his second 100-yard game. Because of Royster, Penn State wore down the Wolverines defense and inched a step closer to bowl eligibility.
Defensive Player of the Week: Shaun Prater, DB, Iowa
Immediately after the Hawkeyes took a 17–0 lead, Prater picked off another Kirk Cousins pass and returned it 42 yards into Hawkeye territory. Three plays later it was 23–0. The junior cornerback also assisted Iowa’s run defense with a double-digit tackle performance.
Freshman of the Week: Nathan Scheelhasse, QB, Illinois
Once again the Illini freshman was nearly perfect. Scheelhasse completed 80 percent of his passing attempts (16-of-20) for 195 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground he gained 5.6 yards per attempt and led the Illini in both carries (21) and yards (118).
The Week Ahead
Upset Alert: Wisconsin
No Big Ten team is at much risk this week, but Wisconsin should be the most conscious of not letting this one slip. The Badgers dropped a road game to an underdog late in the year last season (Northwestern). Purdue does not have a strong football team, but with Wisconsin coming off a bye, the Boilers may have enough to keep this contest interesting.
Player to Watch: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Coming off of a miserable performance the junior hopes to bounce back against a Michigan defense allowing almost 150 rushing yards per game. Last week Penn State’s Evan Royster ripped up the Wolverines, and if Illinois is to keep pace in this contest it will require big performances on the ground from Leshoure and backfield mate Nathan Scheelhasse.
Three teams have an opportunity to become bowl-eligible this weekend: Penn State and either Michigan or Illinois. Five Big Ten teams have already reached the six-win mark.
Wisconsin’s John Clay is just 113 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for a second consecutive season. It would make Clay the conference’s second player to reach the mark this season (Michigan’s Denard Robinson). This week Clay faces a Purdue defense that ranks seventh in rushing yards allowed per contest (139.0) but only allows an average of 3.6 yards per carry.
Michigan 23, Illinois 21
Iowa 44, Indiana 10
Michigan State 31, Minnesota 13
Wisconsin 34, Purdue 7
Penn State 17, Northwestern 14