Big Ten Notebook: Hoke on Iowa's O, senior days, and OSU's potential perfection


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Even though his offense is the one receiving accolades, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was quick to praise his upcoming opponent’s offense during the Big Ten’s weekly teleconference on Tuesday.

Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner was honored by the Big Ten as the Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Monday — an award he shares with Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. In just his second career start at quarterback, Gardner accounted for 4 touchdowns (2 rushing, 2 passing) in the Wolverines’ 38-31 overtime victory against Northwestern on Nov. 10.

Yet Hoke spoke little about his backup to Denard Robinson and instead praised a seemingly struggling Hawkeye offense.

“We’re playing an Iowa team that, I think, is as well coached as any team in this league,” he said. “When you look at what they’ve done running the football … they’re physical. You have to like to tackle if you’re going to play against [Damon Bullock] and [Mark Weisman].”

While Michigan (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten) has a better record than Iowa (4-6, 2-4) this season, the Wolverines are still wary of the Black and Gold because of the series’ recent history. The Hawkeyes have won three-straight games against the Wolverines, and Michigan hasn’t won a game between the schools since a 20-6 defeat of Iowa in Ann Arbor in 2006. The two teams did not face each other in 2007 or 2008.

Hoke said that this recent trend of Iowa victories will be extra motivation for his side to come out competitive and motivated on Senior Day against a Hawkeye team on a four-game losing streak.
“Our seniors have never beat Iowa,” he said. “Not only are they playing their last home football game at Michigan Stadium, they’ve never beat Iowa since they’ve been here.”

Senior Days supposed to help teams avoid complacency

Numerous coaches discussed the importance of a victory on their team’s Senior Day this week. Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin all host their senior’s ultimate home games this week. Indiana is the only Big Ten team to have already completed Senior Day, during their its blowout loss to Wisconsin.

With many teams already knowing their postseason fate — Wisconsin, for instance, has already clinched the Leaders division and a spot in the Big Ten championship game with two games remaining — Senior Days are another way to keep a team from becoming complacent at season’s end.

“Obviously, that’s always an emotional day,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. “We hope to honor [our seniors] by how we play.”

Undefeated season not a topic of discussion in Columbus

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will have a chance to coach his team to the postseason next year, and it’s possible the team won’t have suffered a loss under his regime when the NCAA sanctions are fulfilled by this season’s end.

Yet, the former Florida coach is trying to avoid discussing an undefeated year with his team. While the squad has players with BCS game experience and a Big Ten championship, no one on the roster has been part of an undefeated team. Winning the team’s final two games of 2012 would result in an apparently incidental loss-less season.

“Our goal was simply to win as many games as we could for our senior class that I grew to really admire in my six months getting to know them,” Meyer said. “We never talked about undefeated seasons.”

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