Around the Big Ten

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 19, 2010 7:20 AM

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1. Wisconsin (Previous rank: 1)
The Badgers may be wishing they saved some of last week's 83 points for this week's matchup against high-powered Michigan.

2. Ohio State (3)
Jim Tressel and Company will try to tie a conference record by winning at least a share of the Big Ten title for the sixth-straight season.

3. Michigan State (4)
The Spartans must be careful not to underestimate Purdue before closing the season at Penn State.

4. Iowa (2)
A win over the Buckeyes — which the Hawkeyes haven't accomplished in 11 of their last 12 tries — would certainly help weaken the bitter taste of last week's loss.

5. Northwestern (8)
Northwestern is 7-3, but one has to wonder if the Wildcats can manage any more wins with Dan Persa lost for the season to an injury.

6. Michigan (6)
Rich Rodriguez can increase his job security immensely with an upset win against Wisconsin this week.

7. Penn State (5)
Things looked good for the Nittany Lions early on against Ohio State but turned out sour. Fortunately, they now face an Indiana team that may have checked out for the season.

8. Illinois (7)
Two-straight losses have dramatically altered the outlook for what appeared to be a team that was a lock to go bowling.

9. Purdue (10)
The Boilermakers must knock off Michigan State this week to keep their bowl hopes alive.

10. Indiana (9)
Coming off a performance in which the Hoosiers surrendered 83 points to Wisconsin, it's safe to say Bill Lynch's job may be in jeopardy.

11. Minnesota (11)
Minnesota's win against Illinois was its first victory since the season-opener against Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 2.


Name: Montee Ball
Position: Running back
Year: Sophomore

John Clay may miss his second-straight game because of a strained MCL, but that doesn't mean Wisconsin necessarily has reason to be worried. Montee Ball flourished against Indiana last week in his first career start, establishing new career-bests with 167 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries as Wisconsin exploded for 83 points.

That crooked number from the Badgers certainly turned a lot of heads, but as Ball said following the game, "It's not our job to stop scoring."

Coach Bret Bielema has to feel extra comfortable considering his squad produced those points without the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year in Clay. The offense appears to be in good hands with Ball — who has 513 yards and nine touchdowns on 92 carries this season.


Name: Martez Wilson
Position: Linebacker
Year: Junior

Wilson suffered a herniated disc in his neck during Illinois' season-opener last year, causing him to miss the remainder of the year.

It's safe to say Wilson has returned in full-force in 2010. The Chicago native is leading the Big Ten in total tackles (94), and he has also recorded two quarterback sacks. One of his best college performances came last week in a losing effort when he recorded a career-high 15 tackles in Illinois' 38-34 loss against Minnesota.

With this week's opponent, Northwestern, suddenly without its starting quarterback, Wilson may come close to turning in similar numbers.

The 6-4, 250-pounder is listed by nfldraftscout.com as the top NFL prospect among all inside linebackers in the 2012 class.

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