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November 1, 2007
BUCHANAN'S BIG TEN PICKS
Best matchup: Michigan vs. Michigan State The in-state rivalry always is bitter, but it also figures to be especially interesting this year. Not only is it the 100th game in the series, both teams are good. Also, first-year Spartans coach Mark Dantonio stressed the importance of the rivalry when he took the job by immediately installing in the football building a clock that counted down the days until the Michigan game. The date of the game is the key code to the locker room. Michigan's run defense, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten, will be tested by the Spartans, who rank second in the conference in run offense. Michigan State's Javon Ringer has rushed for 1,084 yards.
The pressure is on: Indiana. The Hoosiers celebrated mightily when they posted their fifth victory, which put them on the brink of bowl eligibility. But that was four weeks ago. Their 40-20 victory over Minnesota was followed by consecutive losses to Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Indiana still needs one victory to qualify for postseason play, but time is starting to run out. Three games remain, against Ball State, Northwestern and Purdue, and none of those is a sure bet. And it's not a sure bet the Hoosiers will play in a bowl even if they get another win. It might take seven victories to guarantee a bowl appearance.
Who's hot: Purdue DE Eugene Bright has notched two sacks in each of the past two games. ? Michigan WR Mario Manningham has four consecutive 100-yard receiving games and 32 catches for 541 yards and six touchdowns during that span. ? Ohio State QB Todd Boeckman has completed 72.3 percent of his passes in the past three games. In that span, he has thrown for 630 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He has thrown at least two TD passes in every game this season. ? Illinois junior TB Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns in Illinois' 28-17 victory over Ball State last Saturday. Mendenhall had just over 100 yards by halftime and went over 1,000 yards for the season.
Who's not: Indiana's offensive line has allowed 16 sacks in the past three games. Injuries forced Indiana to use four players at center against Wisconsin last week. ? Indiana QB Kellen Lewis threw two interceptions last week against Wisconsin after losing three fumbles the previous week in a loss to Penn State. ? Minnesota has allowed at least 27 points in every game this season and surrendered at least 35 five times. ? Ohio State is last in the league in kickoff returns, at 17.3 yards per return.
Keep your eye on: Iowa TB Albert Young is coming off a 179-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Hawkeyes' come-from-behind victory over Michigan State. Next, he faces Northwestern, which has allowed an opposing running back at least 100 yards in every Big Ten game this season. The last time Young played Northwestern in Evanston, he rushed for a career-high 202 yards.
Freshman to watch: Wisconsin TB Zach Brown may be thrust into the role as the Badgers' primary ballcarrier at Ohio State. Starting TB P.J. Hill has a badly bruised foot that could prevent him from playing, and backup Lance Smith isn't allowed to travel because of a university-imposed suspension. Brown has rushed for 118 yards this season. Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward has been getting more action of late. The son of former NFL player Ironhead Heyward was pressed into action when Lawrence Wilson broke his leg in the season opener and has gotten more playing time with Robert Rose limited by nagging injuries.
Injury update: Indiana C Ben Wyss (foot) is doubtful and second-string C Matt Moses (knee) is out. ? Wisconsin LB Jaevery McFadden (elbow) and G Andy Kemp (hand) are questionable. ? Penn State G Mike Lucian (concussion) and LB Dontey Brown (arm) are questionable. DE Jerome Hayes (knee) is out for the rest of the season. ? Illinois WR Kyle Hudson (foot) and DE Derek Walker (sprained ankle) are questionable. ? Iowa LB Mike Klinkenborg (broken hand) and TB Damian Sims (sprained foot) are questionable, and CB Adam Shada (sprained ankle) is out. ? Michigan State LB SirDarean Adams (undisclosed) is questionable. ? Michigan QB Chad Henne (shoulder) and TB Mike Hart are probable. ? Minnesota LB Mike Sherels (hamstring) and DE William Van DeSteeg (shoulder) are questionable.
They said it:
"They're definitely looking to spoil somebody's season. We've been in that position before. For the many years I've been here, it's the kind of thing where you look at every week as trying to ruin somebody's year. They have their backs to the wall. We know they're going to fight."
"Well, we love trick plays because it maintains our reputation as a very creative and exciting-type offense."
"You're talking about a quarterback who has thrown for just about 2,000 yards with just four interceptions. With that being said, we have to win at the end of the game. If there is one thing he hasn't done yet, it is that."
Etc.: Northwestern TB Tyrell Sutton last week got his first rushing attempts since spraining an ankle in the second week of the season. ? Iowa WR Dominique Douglas, who has been indefinitely suspended, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft for stealing three DVDs from a Wal-Mart. ? Ohio State has won 19 consecutive conference games to tie Michigan (1990-92) for the longest Big Ten winning streak. ? Michigan LB Shawn Crable ranks second nationally in tackles for loss with 22 and had at least 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in all four October games.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.