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October 18, 2007
Ohio State must avoid upset bug
BUCHANAN'S BIG TEN PICKS
Best matchup: Michigan State run offense vs. Ohio State run defense. No running back has rushed for 100 yards against Ohio State, which ranks second nationally in run defense. In fact, only Washington QB Jake Locker has reached triple digits against the Buckeyes, who allow 62.9 rushing yards per game. Michigan State, which averages 247.7 rushing yards to rank ninth nationally, should be the Buckeyes' strongest test to date. Shifty Javon Ringer has rushed for 677 yards in the past four games, and Jehuu Caulcrick adds a powerful change of pace for the Spartans.
The pressure is on: Ohio State, of course. Six teams ranked in the top 10 the past two weeks have been upset, so the Buckeyes – the only Big Ten team in the top 10 – must be careful to avoid that occurrence. Ohio State is the third team to occupy the No. 1 position in The Associated Press poll this season. The others, LSU and USC, were upset by opponents they blew out a year ago. Kentucky avenged last season's 49-0 loss to LSU in 2006, while Stanford got revenge for a 42-0 loss to USC. Last season, Ohio State defeated Michigan State 38-7. (Cue spooky X-Files music).
Who's hot: Northwestern QB C.J. Bacher has been named the Big Ten's top offensive player each of the past two weeks after throwing for 990 yards and nine touchdowns, with no interceptions. The Wildcats posted overtime victories over Michigan State and Minnesota in those games. … Michigan junior WR Mario Manningham posted a career-high 147 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes against Purdue last week. … Indiana leads the nation in sacks with 32.
Who's not: Purdue TB Kory Sheets has rushed for just 39 yards in the past two games and was benched for most of last week's game against Michigan after fumbling. … Iowa has allowed a league-high 27 sacks, 10 more than any other Big Ten team. … Minnesota has a minus-15 turnover margin.
Keep your eye on: The status of Michigan TB Mike Hart, the nation's leading rusher, won't be determined until game time. Hart, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season, sprained his ankle in last week's victory over Purdue. If he cannot play, sophomore Carlos Brown likely will replace him in the starting lineup.
Freshman to watch: Penn State DE Aaron Maybin's role figures to increase substantially because of the injury to Jerome Hayes, who was a good pass rusher. Maybin, who has four sacks this season, could be key against Indiana. The Hoosiers have allowed 16 sacks this season.
Injury update: Ohio State LB Ross Homan (turf toe) is doubtful. … Michigan TB Mike Hart is questionable, and backup TB Brandon Minor (ankle) is out. … Illinois WR Kyle Hudson (head), SS Garrett Edwards (knee) and TB Troy Pollard (knee) are questionable. … Indiana TBs Josiah Sears (concussion), Marcus Thigpen (ankle) and Demetrius McCray (foot) are questionable. … Iowa OT Dace Richardson (knee) will miss the remainder of the season. FS Devan Moylan (concussion) and LB Mike Klinkenborg (concussion) are questionable. … Michigan State C Joel Nitchman (knee) and CB Ross Weaver (leg) are questionable. … Minnesota SS Duran Cooley (knee) is out. TB Amir Pinnix (quadriceps), CB Desi Steib (leg) and LB Mike Sherels (hamstring) are questionable. … Northwestern SS Brendan Smith (shoulder) is out, and TB Tyrell Sutton (ankle) is questionable. … Wisconsin WR Luke Swan (hamstring) is out.
They said it:
"I definitely don't want to do that. I am just going to go out there and play my game."
"We wore blue pants against Penn State two years ago (a 61-10 loss), so I don't think you will be seeing the blue pants on Saturday."
"I apologize to some of the old fans or anybody with heart problems."
Etc.: Iowa reserve TB Dana Brown was arrested on Tuesday for assaulting his girlfriend. … Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz voiced his displeasure with articles in Des Moines and Iowa City newspapers in which former Hawkeyes quarterback Drew Tate was critical of the Iowa program. … Penn State's Brent Carter has switched from safety to running back, which helps to ensure freshmen Stephfon Green and Joe Suhey can redshirt. … Wisconsin WR Paul Hubbard, who has missed five games with a knee injury, practiced this week and could play against Northern Illinois.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.