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Posts Tagged ‘Ohio State Buckeyes’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team So far, the eyes have it, as the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes look a cut or two above the rest of the Big Ten, so if you’re an Ohio State or Iowa fan, watching the game with your alumni groups at the sports bar this fall has been, and should continue to be a lot of fun. Of course, Chicago is filled with alumni of all the Big Ten schools, so read on to see where I ranked yours. Unfortunately, the two home teams, Northwestern and Illinois are pretty far down the list.

1. Ohio State (3-1, 1-0)

Buckeyes post back-to-back shutouts for first time since 1996, and are starting to look like the best team in the conference. Again. Eventually making this year…well, yet another OSU conference title would really suck for ratings. Because it would be BORRRRRRRRRRING!  Where are the 2000 Purdue Boilermakers, 1995 Northwestern Wildcats, and 2001 Illini when you need them?

2. Iowa (4-0, 1-0)

Meet senior linebacker Pat Angerer, could there be a better name for a linebacker? Angerer racked up a game-high 14 tackles and two turnovers to help the Iowa defense limit Penn State to only 10 points. Angerer recorded his first interception of the season and rambled 38 yards to set up the Hawkeyes’ second touchdown of the quart. Later he forced a fumble that was recovered by the Hawkeyes at the 18-yard line.

To read the rest of the power rankings click here

See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at the site he founded The Sports Bank, NBA analysis at  Walter Football.com and his “Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Football season commences in about three weeks, and Chicago is the capital of Big Ten Country, so it’s time to sort the league’s macho men from the weaklings. Of course these rankings are highly subject to change. In-depth previews of Chicago’s two teams (Illinois and Northwestern) coming soon!

1. Ohio State

Once again it’s re-loading, not re-building in Columbus. With Boom Herron filling it for Beanie Wells and a wholILLINIROSEBOWLe slew of new talent filling in at key defensive positions, the scarlet and grey will have a new look this fall. Although the Bucks have looked terrible in January bowls lately, they’re still the class of the league, and look for the “sweater vest” to maintain that.

2. Penn State

Like President Barack Obama said, “it’s not enough to change the players, you have to change the game” and the 82 year old Joe Paterno and his staff have innovated the “Spread HD” enough to make the Nittany Lions consistently win again. QB Darryl Clark, LB Sean Lee and DT Jared Odrick are all ballers, and if this team can find some good replacements at OL and CB, the BCS could come calling.

3. Michigan State

It all depends on how well they replace Javon Ringer. They’ll also be breaking in a new starter at Quarterback, but you can tell the new QB, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell,” WR Mark Dell, one of the best in the league. Throw in an outstanding defense led by Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Greg Jones, and they’ll be solid.

4. Northwestern

Sure, they have to replace everybody at the offensive skill positions, but the new starter at QB, Mike Kafka, is an upgrade. With a QB rushing record already on his resume, he’s more of a dual threat (and less of an interception risk) than C.J. Bacher. Not to mention the heart and soul of this team (the defense) returns mostly in tact from last year- when they set a school record for stopping the run. And the easy schedule (Towson, Eastern Michigan, no Ohio State or Michigan) just screams ten win season.

5. Iowa

They have some big, dominating corn-fed boys on the O line who can go to-to-toe with just about any front seven. But losing some of their defensive playmakers (and trying to replace RB Shonn Greene with Jewel Hampton) will take its toll. If their Jewel is IGI Certified, not a Cubic Zirconia 8-4 or better looks reasonable.

6. Illinois

A program with no consistency. The orange and blue often falter under high expectations and only seem to thrive when people don’t take them seriously. This fall, projections are mixed, so 7-5 and a third-tier bowl sounds about right. With the combination of QB Isaiah “Juice” Williams and WR Arrelious “Rejus” Benn (go to 7-to-9.com), the offense will shine brighter than the diamond in Juice’s right ear. However, defense was lacking last season, and they lost their best playmakers, so mediocrity is imminent.

For the Full Conference Power Rankings click here

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Big Ten has history (both recent and long term). Over the last five years, the Big Ten has sent four teams to the Final Four, tying the Big East for the most teams playing on the final weekend. It’s also one of only two conferences (Big East) to advance five different programs to the Final Four this decade. The Big Ten has accumulated a record 40 Final Four appearances, tying the ACC for the national lead. They were second in conference RPI and had the second most teams in the tourney field last season. On top of all that, the league once again led the nation in attendance for the 33rd consecutive year. So with all this strong tradition, what’s with the lack of representation this draft?

The answer lies in the 2010 draft where five Big Ten players are projected to be taken, including Ohio State’s Evan Turner being a top ten prospect. That number could grow if players like Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas (the conference player of the year) or Durrell Summers, or perhaps Turner’s teammate William Buford decides to leave school early. It was simply a sophomore dominated conference last winter.nbadraft

The one guy from the main Midwestern conference who will hear his name called on draft night is B.J. Mullens. And he’s making a mistake. The highly-touted Ohio State freshman seven-footer declared for the NBA Draft after one year in Columbus in which he didn’t even hold the starting job (though he was named the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.) While he has the athleticism and potential to be a quality big man at the next level, he is nowhere near ready to contribute anytime soon and should get used to sitting on the bench even more often than he did this past season.

His skill set is still very raw and he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes to further develop his game, become more physical, and learn how to dominate a game in the paint. A solid sophomore campaign likely would have secured his status as a sure-fire lottery pick in 2010. Instead, Mullens is projected to be drafted in the mid teens/early twenties later this month. When asked about who his game can be compared to Mullens said: “I don’t care myself to one certain person, I can pinpoint certain moves that I do. There are moves that Kevin Garnett does that I like a lot, moves that Dirk Nowitzki does that I like a lot, so I try to work on those moves and try to get them down a lot.”

This draft, the conference’s theme song could be U2’s “One.” I don’t agree with Mullens’ decision, and I think these lyrics from that ballad apply to his mistake. “Well it’s too late. Tonight to drag the past out into the light…One love. One blood. One life. You got to do what you should.”

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank The 7-2 Northwestern Wildcats are nationally ranked 25th in the USA Today Coaches’ poll and just moved back into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings at No. 24. The BCS standings first appear in mid-season and NU checked in at #22 with a record of 6-1 at the time. Of course, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald and his players constantly remind us how they are actually “0-0 again, at the start of each game week.” The day after the initial 2008 BCS rankings were released, senior wide receiver Eric Peterman gave us the quote of the week, playing on the familiarity of this mega-cliché by stating, “We are the first 0-0 team in the history of the BCS. I’m very proud of that.”

It’s a good thing the Cats aren’t getting complacent because coming to town is the 12th ranked team in all the polls: the Ohio State Buckeyes, winners of 13 straight Big Ten road games. This is by far, the biggest game of the season for the Wildcats, who last week solidified a postseason birth for the first time since 2005. They will probably have their starting quarterback C.J. Bacher returning, but will also have to start one of their third choices at tailback with both the first and second-string out with injuries.

A sold out Ryan Field will showcase Buckeye playmakers on both sides of the ball. Leading the way will be middle linebacker and Butkus Award favorite James Laurinaitis. “He’s as good as advertised,” said Fitzgerald, who was named one of 15 finalists for the Munger Coach of the Year award this week. Fitz won the 1995 and 96 National Defensive Player of the Year awards himself as a linebacker. “In their secondary, they fly, they’re fast. Malcom [Jenkins, senior OSU cornerback] is a first day guy, they have first-day guys all over the place,” Fitzgerald said in describing all the potential NFL first round draft picks within the Buckeye defense. Laurinitis currently has top ten overall draft stock and outside linebacker Marcus Freeman is projected as a second round commodity. This complements Chris “Beanie” Wells on offense, the nation’s blue chip prospect at tailback.

The last two meetings with Ohio St. have yielded a “Dead Cat Bounce” with Northwestern taking a beating worse than the Dow Jones average has lately. Last year OSU whacked NU 58-7 after beating them 54-10 the season before. This game, kicking off at 11AM and televised on ESPN2, figures to be much closer on paper.

For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.

For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”

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