Posts Tagged ‘Big Ten records’

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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mikekafkaPaul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank With star tailback Tyrell Sutton out for the season, #25 Northwestern was hoping backup quarterback Mike Kafka could provide a metamorphosis in the offense. With starting quarterback C.J. Bacher also out with an injury, the second string signal caller Kafka was on trial against a tough University of Minnesota defense. He responded by shattering a record that previously stood for nearly 40 years. He rushed for 217 yards, the most ever in a single game by a Big Ten quarterback against the Golden Gophers, ranked #20 nationally at the time. For leading the Wildcats to their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2005, Kafka was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

On Election Day afternoon, it was announced that Kafka was one of four players selected nationally by ESPN as this week’s potential A T&T All-America Player of the Week award, given to the player with the most outstanding performance on Saturday. Fans can text message VOTE to 51234 on their wireless phone to opt in and vote for their player. Fans have no limit voting opportunities until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday so like they say in Chicago, “vote early, vote often.” Each vote counts as one entry in the sweepstakes chance to see the 2009 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game in Miami. Full sweepstakes rules can be found here.

NU also brought home the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award, with senior safety Brendan Smith earning this distinction. Smith sealed the Cats victory in Minneapolis when intercepted Gopher QB Adam Weber with 12 seconds remaining and took it 48 yards back for a touchdown.

It is still uncertain whether Kakfa or the convalescing C.J. Bacher will start this week at home versus #12 Ohio State. Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald told the media on Monday that despite Kafka’s huge game, Bacher will not lose his starting job due to injury. The current depth chart lists both as the potential starter. “It will be C.J. or Mike, we’ll make that evaluation as things go along, I feel C.J. is improving every day and if we can get him up to full speed or as close to it, he is our starting quarterback. I’m very proud of the way Mike stepped up though in his opportunity to play,” Fitzgerald said.

For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.

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

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