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Big Ten bounces back in week four

BY JACOB SHEYKO | SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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There’s a constant battle for Big Ten football to gain credibility on the national stage. Two weeks ago didn’t help that challenge.

Over the span of 9 games on Sept. 13 — Penn State and Rutgers played each other — the Big Ten went 3-6.

The league, in turn, faced heavy criticism — until last weekend, when the Big Ten took a step in the right direction.

“You just look across college football, and it’s every week,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. “You got to come every week, and some weeks are going to be better than others.”

Last week, the Big Ten went 12-1, with wins over Power Five conference teams such as then-No. 18 Missouri, Miami (Florida), and Pittsburgh.

The only team to lose was Michigan, which dropped its second game of the season, 26-10, Utah.
To many, it was a bounce-back week for a conference once lauded for its football. To Pelini, it’s presumptuous to judge the league this early in the season.

“I think all this stuff of people making judgments on any team, any conference after two or three weeks is ludicrous,” he said. “That’s why you play a full season. And I think you see that. One week, the teams are high on someone, then the next week, they’re writing them off.”

Quarterback controversies take over Big Ten

Though it may seem like it to those in the state of Iowa, the Hawkeyes are not the only Big Ten team with a quarterback controversy on their hands. Both Michigan and Minnesota are in debates over who will take the snaps under center this coming Saturday.

Although they face the same situation, Michigan’s and Minnesota’s circumstances are different.
Minnesota is facing quarterback issues because of Mitch Leidner’s turf toe injury. Last week, redshirt freshman Chris Streveler filled in for Leidner, guiding the Gophers to a 24-7 victory over San Jose State.

Streveler only completed 1 pass, but he ran for 161 yards on 18 carries and was named the Big Ten Co Freshman of the Week. Gopher coach Jerry Kill said Streveler’s play doesn’t change anything about the quarterback position.

Interestingly enough, the Gophers open their conference season against Michigan, which is also facing a quarterback battle after dropping its second game of the season.

Michigan has two options: senior Devin Gardner or sophomore Shane Morris.

Wolverine head coach Brady Hoke was expected to make a decision on the starting quarterback Tuesday, but he delayed the decision until later this week.

“At this time, we’re still going to have both guys take the reps,” Hoke said. “We feel good about both guys.”

Rutgers’ James out for the season

Paul James’ anterior cruciate ligament injury is not breaking news for Rutgers. What will be new, though, is preparing weekly for the rest of the season without its best offensive player.

Through four games, James gained 363 yards on 63 carries — an average of 5.76 yards per carry. Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood has options to replace James —backup running back Desmon Peoples has rushed for 205 yards.

Flood said James has taken the news of the injury in stride. 

“As well as any athlete could possibly handle it,” Flood said. “I haven’t seen him hang his head one bit. I haven’t seen a frown on his face. He’s determined to come back next year better than ever. I have no doubt in my mind that he will.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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