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Battle of tight ends intrigues Bielema

BY BRENDAN STILES | OCTOBER 14, 2009 7:30 AM

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Much like last week, the No. 11 Iowa Hawkeyes are set to face a team coming off its first defeat of the season.

But that’s where similarities end.

Unlike playing Michigan at home after the Wolverines lost to Michigan State, the Hawkeyes travel to Camp Randall Stadium to face a 5-1 Wisconsin squad coming off a painful 31-13 loss at Ohio State.

Painful because three of the Buckeyes’ touchdowns came from either the defense or special teams.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema was most enticed by the matchup of tight ends in the upcoming contest. Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki was recently named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after a six-catch, 105-yard receiving performance with two touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 30-28 win over Michigan on Oct. 10.

Badger tight end Garrett Graham is among the conference’s elite, leading his position with a Big Ten-best 27 receptions this season.

“I don’t know if there’s two schools in the country that will meet this year that use their tight ends as much as we do and as much as they do,” Bielema said during the Big Ten football teleconference on Tuesday.

Minnesota

The Golden Gophers have had the luxury of playing four of their first six games at their new digs, TCF Bank Stadium.

Now Minnesota (4-2, 2-1) has perhaps the most daunting two-game road stretch imaginable with trips to Penn State this Saturday and Ohio State next week.

This week’s game with the 14th-ranked Nittany Lions marks the first meeting between the two teams since Tim Brewster became the Golden Gophers’ head coach in 2007.

“It’s a tremendous challenge, but it’s one we relish as a football team, as a program,” he said during the Big Ten football teleconference on Tuesday. “We’re awful excited about going and playing in front of 100,000 fans and a hostile environment. I think it builds something within your program to be able to go into situations like that and confront them.”

Michigan

October has not gone the way Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines have hoped thus far.
After storming through September with a 4-0 record, the past two weeks have presented Michigan with two-straight losses on the road to Michigan State and Iowa. Not only that, but questions surrounding the quarterback situation in Ann Arbor have begun to surface.

Tate Forcier was knocked out of last week’s game against the Hawkeyes with both a shoulder injury and a concussion, which then triggered Rodriguez to put in his other freshman signal-caller, Denard Robinson, during the fourth quarter.

The second-year Wolverine coach said the concussed Forcier is “day-to-day” for Michigan’s game at “The Big House” this week against Delaware State.

New bowl alignment

The Big Ten conference announced on Tuesday that beginning next season, there will be a new bowl order with five games being played on New Year’s Day.

Staying at the top will be the Rose, Capital One, and Outback Bowls. However, the Alamo and Champs Sports Bowls will be replaced by the Gator and Insight Bowls, which will rotate on who selects fourth and fifth.

The Gator Bowl is played annually in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Insight is held in Tempe, Ariz.

With the Insight Bowl moving up the pecking order, the sixth spot goes to the Texas Bowl, which is played in Houston. The No. 7 bowl will be Dallas Football Classic, pitting the Big Ten against Conference USA on Jan. 1.


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