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Continued: Big Ten football insider: Taking the pulse at the midway point

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 18, 2013 - 6:48 AM

Biggest surprise: Illinois went 2-10 in Tim Beckman’s first year, but now the Illini are 3-2 with an outside chance of making a bowl game. Nathan Scheelhaase threw four touchdown passes and eight interceptions last year, but now his knee is healthy, and he’s thrown 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions.


Biggest disappointment: Purdue knew this would be a rebuilding season under first-year coach Darrell Hazell, but the Boilermakers are 1-5, with the losses coming by an average of 28.2 points.

The Gophers had Purdue on their schedule every year from 2005 to 2012, going 4-4 in those games, and they’ll join the Boilermakers next year in the Big Ten West Division. This was the wrong year not to play Purdue.

Big Ten Short Takes

• Maryland (5-1) and Rutgers (4-2) continue to perform well in their final year before joining the Big Ten East. As Gerry DiNardo noted on Big Ten Network, it’s not just what they’ve done on the field, but also in recruiting.

According to the 247Sports composite recruiting rankings, Rutgers’ 2014 class ranks 22nd in the nation (third in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Michigan) and Maryland’s class ranks 42nd in the nation (seventh in the Big Ten).

• With a bye this week, Nebraska could have quarterback Taylor Martinez back from his turf toe injury in time for the Oct. 26 game at Minnesota.

But the Cornhuskers suffered a blow when senior guard Spencer Long was lost to a knee injury. Long was first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-America last season.

• If a Big Ten team gets snubbed from next year’s College Football Playoff, it won’t be for lack of representation on the 13-member selection committee.

Each of the five power conferences got one representative, and for the Big Ten that’s officially Barry Alvarez, the former Wisconsin coach and current athletics director. Tom Osborne, the former Nebraska coach and AD, was an at-large choice.

Big Ten Power Poll

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0): Losses by Michigan and Northwestern hurt Buckeyes strength of schedule over bye week.

2. Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1): Re-established itself as Big Ten’s second-strongest team with 35-6 rout of Northwestern.

3. Michigan State (5-1, 2-0): Everyone knew Spartans would be dangerous if they found an offense. It appears they have.

  • related content

  • Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon has been one of the Big Ten’s most productive and elusive running backs, but he has to share the football in a talented Badgers backfield.

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