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Sean Nuernberger 48 yd FG MISSED
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Brad Craddock's 57-yarder is good.

OSU 9-Yard TD

October, 4, 2014
Oct 4
12:33
PM ET


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J.T. Barrett passes to Jalin Marshall for 9 yards for a TD.
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J.T. Barrett pass complete to Dontre Wilson for 35 yds to the Mary 10 for a 1ST down

Smith Runs For 1-Yard TD

October, 4, 2014
Oct 4
12:18
PM ET


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Rod Smith run for 1 yd for a TD (Sean Nuernberger KICK)
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Ezekiel Elliott run for 28 yds to the Mary 10 for a 1ST down

Big Ten viewer's guide: Week 6

October, 4, 2014
Oct 4
8:00
AM ET
Three teams take a break this weekend as we approach the midway point of the 2014 season. There are still plenty of intriguing narratives to follow in the five Big Ten showdowns Saturday. The conference expansion teams get a chance to prove themselves against traditional league powers. The early leader for the Big Ten’s best playoff contender also will be made clear by the end of the night.

It’s time to find out how much wheat lies among the chaff this season (all times Eastern).

Noon games

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteCan Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes get a road win against Big Ten newcomer Maryland?
No. 20 Ohio State (3-1) at Maryland (4-1), ABC: The Buckeyes make their second trip to the Old Line State this season, this time to open conference play against newcomer Maryland. The Terps have one of the league's most explosive offenses and have proved they can bring more than just the metro-area television audience to the Big Ten. Ohio State and its freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett will be their toughest test to date.

Purdue (2-3) at Illinois (3-2), ESPN2: Illini quarterback Wes Lunt has 11 touchdown passes and only three interceptions through five games with his new team. Lunt & Co. probably need a win against the struggling Boilermakers on Saturday to feel good about their chances of reaching a bowl game at the end of the season.

Afternoon games

North Texas (2-2) at Indiana (2-2), 2:30, BTN: The Mean Green visit an Indiana team that had an up-and-down September. They wedged a major upset against Missouri between disappointing losses to Bowling Green and Maryland. The Hoosiers' defense needs to find more consistency, but shouldn't have too much of an issue with a North Texas team that ranks 115th in total offense.

No. 17 Wisconsin (3-1) at Northwestern (2-2), 3:30, ESPN2: Pat Fitzgerald successfully installed some grit in his lineup last week, holding Penn State out of the end zone on the road. Can Northwestern hang with the more powerful Wisconsin offense in Evanston? Badgers running back Melvin Gordon had his way with opposing defenses in the team's past two victories.

Night games

Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1), 7:00, BTN: Playing football should be a welcome reprieve for Brady Hoke and his Michigan team after the week they had in Ann Arbor. Devin Gardner returns to quarterback for a Wolverines offense riddled with problems. Rutgers freshman defensive end Kemoko Turay should have a good opportunity to build on his one-sack-per-game average this season. Gardner will have to solve his turnover issues to get out of New Jersey with a win and help stop the bleeding.

No. 19 Nebraska (5-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (3-1), 8:00, ABC: In what could be the most important Big Ten game of the season, conference title and national playoff implications are at stake in East Lansing on Saturday night. The Spartans have won 18 of their past 20, and most of those have been double-digit victories. Nebraska, led by Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah, is the league's last chance for a perfect record. If the Huskers can get past Michigan State, an undefeated season becomes a much more realistic possibility.

Required reading

Picks to click: Week 6

October, 3, 2014
Oct 3
3:30
PM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The nonconference action is in the books, and while Maryland might not be a traditional Big Ten opponent, league play has officially arrived for Ohio State. Both teams are looking for an early leg up in the competitive East Division, and for the Buckeyes, they could use big outings from these guys likely to make an impact on the road on Saturday.

WR Devin Smith
  • The Terrapins have been pretty stingy most of the time defensively, but West Virginia made it abundantly clear there are yards to be had through the air as it piled up 511 to hand Maryland its only loss. Smith is a threat to sneak behind the secondary for a bomb at any moment, and with Ohio State's rushing attack starting to get rolling and defenses needing to creep up near the line of scrimmage to slow it down, there could be a couple of chances for the veteran target to make an impact and deliver one of his trademark long-range touchdowns. It also might help that Michael Thomas has emerged as a legitimate weapon at receiver as well, which should prevent teams from shifting the coverage toward Smith and allow him to get in advantageous one-on-one situations.
DE Joey Bosa
  • Even without another elite pass rusher at the other end of the line to take some of the pressure off him, the sophomore is still thriving and building a case as one of the most influential defensive linemen in the nation early in the season. Bosa has already forced three fumbles, all of which have led to points for the Buckeyes, and Maryland has had trouble at times providing protection up front in the passing game. The Terps have already allowed 10 sacks, and Bosa is more than capable of adding to that total and swinging a game with his frightening combination of strength and speed off the edge.
S Vonn Bell
  • The coverage was solid, but the sophomore learned a valuable lesson last week about the importance of winning individual battles as the last line of defense. Bell was outdueled in a one-on-one showdown early in the win over Cincinnati, giving up a 60-yard touchdown that instantly brought back memories of Ohio State's struggles to defend the pass last year down the stretch. The safety is talented enough to take the Buckeyes to a higher level in the secondary, and his confidence hasn't appeared shaken after allowing the big play a week ago, which is important considering the tall task in front of the defense this week. Bell is going to have plenty of opportunities to prove he's capable of handling his responsibilities in the back end against Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and a productive outing from him will be critical for the Buckeyes.

Mayday Minute

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
11:05
PM ET


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College football analyst Mark May discusses Charlie Weis' inflated salary not to coach, Bo Pelini and Nebraska looking to improve to 6-0, Ohio State's win over Cincinnati and Yale's win over Army.
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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer already named Braxton Miller the starting quarterback for 2015. National recruiting analysts Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill discuss how that announcement affects the decision of No. 1 athlete Torrance Gibson.

Big Ten Week 6 predictions

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
9:00
AM ET
Austin Ward scored an 8-1 week and moves into a tie with Mitch Sherman for the top record overall. Not as many games this week, but Michigan once again divides our experts. On to the picks ...



Why Michigan State will win: Improvement was expected all along on offense, but seeing the Spartans on top of the league in scoring at this point still qualifies as a surprise. Connor Cook’s development at quarterback makes Michigan State even more dangerous than it was a year ago, when it won the Big Ten relying heavily on its defense, and the roster looks capable of winning either a slugfest or a shootout. Heisman Trophy candidate Ameer Abdullah might be able to make this one the latter, but the Spartans are the most talented team in the league, their playoff hopes are on the line and they’re at home. That’s too much to overcome for the Huskers. Michigan State 34, Nebraska 24. -- Austin Ward

Why Nebraska could win: The Huskers, under Bo Pelini, usually find a way to match up well with Michigan State because the Spartans, especially on defense, coach with a mindset similar to the Nebraska style. MSU lost to Nebraska in 2011 and 2012 and beat the Huskers 41-28 last year, with help from five Nebraska turnovers. Such understanding helps the Huskers find weaknesses. There’s no doubt Nebraska will attempt to establish the running game. Likely, though, it’ll need help from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to extend the field -- his strength in the passing game. If it works, Nebraska can eat clock and play keep-away from Cook. -- Mitch Sherman



Why Rutgers will win: Well, first things first: Have you seen Michigan play lately? The program is in total disarray behind the scenes, and the Wolverines haven't shown that they can beat -- or even compete credibly with -- any team with a pulse. Plus, Rutgers has had a terrific pass rush this season, which should frighten the bejeezus out of Devin Gardner given the state of the maize and blue offensive line. Michigan's defense will keep it in the game, and Gary Nova has to make sure he doesn't play Rutgers out of the game. But no sane person can possibly pick the Wolverines with any confidence right now. Rutgers 21, Michigan 14 -- Brian Bennett

Why Michigan will win: Of course the resident contrarian is going with the Maize and Blue. Rutgers sees all the turmoil at Michigan and clearly will overlook the Wolverines (now there's a sentence that has never been typed). In all seriousness though, Michigan can't be done this early, can it? A loss in Piscataway, New Jersey, effectively ends the season for the Wolverines, who have yet to lose in the East Division and still can hope for a stunning turnaround. I expect a big night from Frank Clark, Blake Countess, possibly New Jersey native Jabrill Peppers and the Wolverines' defense, which records two pick-sixes against Nova. Gardner avoids the turnover bug and leads two field goal drives as Michigan prevails in Piscataway. Michigan 20, Rutgers 17 -- Adam Rittenberg



Why Purdue will win: I just can't shake the idea that Darrell Hazell can push his Boilermakers to at least one conference win this season. The Illini (or Northwestern on Nov. 22) might be their best chance. Illinois ranks 109th nationally with 11 turnovers at the end of September. A couple more on Saturday could give Purdue the opportunities it needs to stay close and pull out a big win. If that doesn't sell you, Jim Cornelison of Chicago Blackhawks anthem fame will be singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before kickoff. Something interesting is bound to follow. Purdue 26, Illinois 24. -- Dan Murphy

Why Illinois will win: Neither team is particularly good, but Illinois shouldn't struggle putting up points in this game. Quarterback Wes Lunt, tailback Josh Ferguson and wideout Geronimo Allison combine to form one of the more underrated trios in the Big Ten, and Purdue's defense gave up 72 points to the directional Michigans. As for Purdue's offense? Well, Hazell still isn't quite sure who's going to start at quarterback Saturday. It won't matter; Illinois pulls away in the second half. Illinois 35, Purdue 21. -- Josh Moyer

The other unanimous selections

Ohio State 42, Maryland 30: Maryland's first-ever Big Ten home game is a doozy as the Buckeyes come to town. The Terrapins are strongest where Ohio State is weakest, with their electric receivers capable of causing all sorts of trouble for Chris Ash's still wobbly pass defense. Expect lots of fireworks, but in the end a rapidly improving Buckeyes offense has too much speed for Maryland to handle.

Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 17: Wisconsin hasn't won in Evanston, Illinois, since 1999, and the Wildcats are riding a sudden urge of confidence after knocking off Penn State on the road last week. Tanner McEvoy will have to be sharp, but the combination of the Badgers' defense and Melvin Gordon will rule the day.

Indiana 31, North Texas 24: Indiana can beat almost anybody if its offense is clicking (see: Missouri) and lose to just about anyone because of its defense (see: Bowling Green). Still, the Hoosiers should bounce back against the Mean Green.

Our records:
Mitch Sherman: 47-12 (.797)
Austin Ward: 47-12 (.797)
Brian Bennett: 46-13 (.779)
Adam Rittenberg: 46-13 (.779)
Dan Murphy: 16-6 (.727)
Josh Moyer: 42-17 (.712)

Big Ten morning links

October, 2, 2014
Oct 2
8:00
AM ET
Wake up twice more and Big Ten football is back in action. Why isn't it the weekend already?

1. Michigan Meltdown: Now the Wolverines are right back where they started, restoring Devin Gardner as the starter at quarterback and hoping for different results. Based on his disappearance from the depth chart, it's a safe bet that the injuries Shane Morris sustained Saturday forced the swap, but Brady Hoke went right back to highlighting the continued lack of communication both inside and outside Schembechler Hall right now in the press conference announcing the change. Hoke clearly hasn't learned anything from the last few days, falling right back to his policy of not discussion the health of his players at a time when transparency would almost certainly work in his benefit. Pointing out the problems Michigan has had getting players at 100 percent might actually be a useful excuse for some of the on-field issues the program has had during its 2-3 start. Maybe it's too late for that now anyway, but pulling back the curtain and trying to be a bit more open and honest could at least be a start in trying to fight back in the public-relations battle he is badly losing at the moment.

2. Undercard Bout of the Week: All the attention is focused on the prize fight under the lights between Nebraska and Michigan State, and deservedly so given the standing of those marquee teams and how important the matchup will be for the College Football Playoff selection committee. But there's a battle in the afternoon that could be just as entertaining, and what it might lack in implications for the national title, it makes up for it with intrigue in the East Division. Maryland has the athletes at wide receiver to test the Buckeyes and their suspect secondary. Ohio State is rolling offensively with J.T. Barrett at quarterback, and the Terps were gashed in their biggest test of the season against West Virginia. There could be plenty of fireworks, and the winner will establish itself as a contender in the East -- and potentially the favorite depending on what happens with the Spartans.

3. Trophy talk: The votes have been unanimous for a couple weeks now, but Ameer Abdullah's standing as the unquestioned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year at this early stage could be threatened as early as this week given the head-to-head matchup with one of his closest competitors. Obviously the Nebraska tailback isn't directly squaring off with Connor Cook on the field, but if the Michigan State quarterback puts up another impressive statistical outing, knocks off the Huskers and keeps his team in line for a potential playoff berth, Abdullah might find himself lower than the No. 1 spot next week despite his gaudy numbers. On the flip side, a road win that keeps the Huskers unbeaten with Abdullah gouging one of the most feared defenses in the nation would only solidify his push for the Heisman Trophy. Of course, there is plenty on the line for both teams, but individual honors are up for grabs on Saturday evening as well.

East Division
  • Defensive tackle Damon Knox could be returning just in time for Michigan State.
  • Brady Hoke has a "great relationship" with embattled athletic director Dave Brandon.
  • Some key players are taking it easy during Penn State's bye week.
  • Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo is earning just as much praise for his blocking as he does for his catches.
  • Maryland is breaking out some special helmets for its first Big Ten home game.
  • Ohio State is looking forward to welcoming the Terps to the conference.
  • Griffin Oakes has been a threat from long range since high school, and he's already forced Indiana to update its record book.
West Division
October has arrived, which means Big Ten conference play is in full swing. And that's when the best players step up.

Expect the races for individual awards to be fully shaped in the next few weeks. But we're keeping track of where they stand on a week-to-week basis. We've been looking at the offensive and defensive player of the year races since the start of the season, and with more data in the books, we'll be adding a bonus category from here on out.

Away we go ...

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year

[+] EnlargeAmeer Abdullah
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesNebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has been the best offensive player in the Big Ten so far this season.
1. Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (six first-place votes): Abdullah had another 200-yard day against Illinois as his fantastic season continues. He has run for more than 100 yards in each of the last two years against this week's opponent, Michigan State.

2. Indiana RB Tevin Coleman: The Hoosiers are incredibly inconsistent, but Coleman is not. He leads the FBS in rushing at 172.8 yards per game.

3. Michigan State QB Connor Cook: He was able to hit the showers early again against Wyoming, but Cook leads the Big Ten and is No. 3 nationally in pass efficiency while completing better than 69 percent of his throws.

4. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon: After a slow first half against South Florida, Gordon came out firing in the second half for another big performance. He's on pace for more than 1,900 yards this season.

5. Minnesota RB David Cobb: Our panel all agreed on the top five offensive candidates right now, though in different orders. Cobb has a strong argument for player of the year consideration because he's basically carrying the Gophers' offense. His 124 carries are the most in the FBS, and he's making the most of them.

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

1. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (five first-place votes): Bosa takes over first place this week thanks to his playmaking ways. He has forced three fumbles this season, all of which have led to Buckeyes touchdowns.

2. Maryland CB William Likely (one first-place vote): Likely may not be very tall, but he makes big plays. He leads the Big Ten in interceptions with three, including a pick-six.

3. Penn State DT Anthony Zettel: The Nittany Lions interior disruptor drops a couple spots after his team lost to Northwestern. But he's still having a heck of a season, with seven tackles for loss.

4. Nebraska DE Randy Gregory: Welcome back, Mr. Gregory. He was all over the field against Illinois, and after missing some time with injury he now leads the league in sacks per game.

5. Wisconsin LB Derek Landisch: He leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss per game, and Badgers coach Gary Andersen said Tuesday that Landisch has been the best player on what is the best statistical defense in the conference right now.

Also receiving votes: Minnesota LB Damien Wilson; Minnesota CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun; Penn State LB Mike Hull; Iowa DE Drew Ott

Thompson–Randle El Freshman of the Year

1. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett (three first-place votes): Braxton who? OK, let's not go that far. But guess who leads the Big Ten in total offense? It's the Buckeyes redshirt freshman, who just keeps getting better.

2. Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton (three first-place votes): There were questions about who would catch the ball for the Nittany Lions this season, and Hamilton has provided a nice answer. The redshirt freshman leads the conference in total receiving yards (502) and receptions (36) and is well on pace for a 1,000-yard season.

3. Rutgers DE Kemoko Turay: He's basically a pass-rushing specialist, but his specialty sure is, uh, special. Turay has five sacks already this season, tops in the Big Ten and more than all but seven players in the FBS.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Four plays haven’t changed anything for Urban Meyer, but they certainly got his attention.

The Ohio State coach hasn’t lost any faith in the players he has recruited, the coaches he hired or the system he had installed to fix a broken pass defense. But a handful of busted coverages and lost individual battles Saturday against Cincinnati at least concerned Meyer enough that he had to spend part of his Sunday grading the defense himself.

Meyer came away still convinced the plan in place and the personnel on hand is capable of reaching a championship level. But there’s no question it wasn’t there yet last weekend, which might be a troubling sign with another set of dangerous wide receivers waiting for the No. 20 Buckeyes this Saturday at Maryland.

“I hear someone say just take away those four plays,” Meyer said. “You can't just take away those four plays. That's part of the game. ... We played a very good throwing offense and we had four really bad plays that we have to get corrected -- have to get corrected.

“I'm satisfied with the direction we're going. We've just got to get them corrected.”

The Buckeyes don’t have any time to waste making those corrections with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long on deck this weekend, and Meyer hasn’t really bothered to hide his disappointment coming out of a game he touted as the first real test for a rebuilt, revamped secondary.

Twice already he’s publicly gone through the details of the four critical mistakes that produced four touchdowns and 240 yards through the air, in the process making it clear just how closely he was inspecting the film and searching for answers after Ohio State had worked so diligently to correct the issues that essentially cost it a shot at the national championship last season.

There was a one-on-one battle safety Vonn Bell couldn’t win despite tight coverage. A missed assignment against a screen pass. The coaching staff was on the hook for dialing up a coverage Meyer didn’t appear to be a big fan of just before halftime. And finally, perhaps a momentary lapse in technique and recognition that led to one more deep strike that at least for a moment turned a blowout into a tight 33-28 battle with the Bearcats.

There are elements of risk with the more aggressive schemes the Buckeyes have installed this season, increasing the amount of press coverage, attacking quarterbacks with different blitzes and challenging players across the board to win individual matchups. The gambles aren’t always going to pay off, but Ohio State is well aware it can’t afford to go bust as often as it did last Saturday if the Buckeyes are going to climb back into contention for the College Football Playoff.

“I think that’s what we’re going to put on our shoulders as coaches,” defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. “We want our guys to have confidence in what they’re doing. I told them and we’re going to keep repeating it: I’d rather bet on myself, I’d rather bet on my guys and put them in position to go ahead and know that we have confidence in them, that we don’t have to make wholesale changes and knee-jerk and do some things.

“There are some things we can do better, but we’re still going to bet on ourselves.”

In turn, Meyer is going to keep backing some of the most decorated recruits in the country at cornerback and safety. He may spend a little extra time watching the defense and offering a bit more input, but he trusts the staff to get the job done. And he’s definitely not planning to scrap the vision he has for his defense in favor of a conservative, bend-but-try-not-to-break defense.

And if the pieces are truly all in place, the message is pretty clear.

“When you do what we do, you’re going to put yourself in one-on-one battles,” co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash said. “We’ve got to win some of them.”

The alternative is going flat broke.
video

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith discuss the fourth-year engineering student who lost his scholarship after running onto the field during an Ohio State football game and was body-slammed by assistant coach Anthony Schlegel.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 10/25