5 questions with Iowa football columnist Rick Brown
1. Which Iowa team shows up Saturday? How's practice been this week? And why is (Iowa coach Kirk) Ferentz getting so chippy?
I think the good Iowa shows up Saturday. We don't get to see practice, but that's not always a good indication. Ferentz said practice was good before the Maryland game. Ferentz was anything but chippy Tuesday. He was in a good mood. Which takes us back to your first question.
2. Why do you think there was such a drastic difference in the play-calling in the Northwestern game compared to what we have seen up to this point?
Two weeks to prepare, for one. And Northwestern's best safety wasn't playing. But I've got to think the staff sat down and revisited some things, too. It seems like this game plan had more than Greg Davis' fingerprints on it.
3. Why such fluctuation in the play of the defensive line? One week dominant, while the next they get pushed around like nobody's business.
The Indiana and Maryland games exposed some things. Both in execution and lack of tackling. This time, Iowa exposed Northwestern at the point of attack. If Iowa can control Minnesota's ground game and make quarterback Mitch Leidner pass, I think the Hawkeyes win the game.
4. It appeared that against Northwestern, Jake (Rudock) was finally throwing to people open as opposed to waiting for them to get a lot of separation. Where has this been all year?
Ferentz called a 23-yard Rudock to Tevaun Smith completion in the first quarter a "Kodak moment," because Jake threw it before Tevaun had turned his head. I said after the game that I thought it was one of the best performances of Rudock's career. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald called it his best game of the season, and Ferentz agreed.
5. After the (Derrick) Willies departure, C.J. Beathard made some statements that gave us some insight to what was going on there. More importantly for me, though, was that when asked about his own playing time, C.J. said he was focused on the season, and he would see where things were at the conclusion of the year. This worries me, despite the fact I have always had Rudock tabbed as the guy.
He's already used his redshirt year, and would throw away one of his two remaining seasons of eligibility if he transfers to an NCAA Division I program. There were rumors after last season that he was transferring. That made more sense then than now.
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BIG TEN BUZZ
Maryland's Brad Craddock is now perfect in 14 field-goal attempts this season after making a 43-yarder in the final minute to beat Penn State, 20-19. It was Maryland's first victory at Penn State and second in the series. The Nittany Lions lead, 35-2-1…Michigan's 34-10 victory over Indiana was its 19th in a row over the Hoosiers, and 34th in the last 35 games. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman remained the only back in the country to rush for at least 100 yards in every game. He had 108. One of Michigan's touchdowns was a 12-yard strike from quarterback Devin Gardner to former West Des Moines Dowling wide receiver Amara Darboh…Rutgers got shut out for the first time in 147 games by Wisconsin, 37-0. Three numbers put the game in perspective: Wisconsin's Corey Clement rushed for 131 yards, and teammate Melvin Gordon had 128. Rutgers had 139 yards of total offense.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) at Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten). The Buckeyes are out for a school-record 21st consecutive Big Ten triumph, and a little revenge, in this 7 p.m. game televised by ABC. The Spartans beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game last season, 34-24. Twenty-one straight would also be a Big Ten record. But the Spartans have won 13 in a row, the longest at Michigan State since a 16-game stretch (1965-67). This should be a hard-hitting, defensive duel. Michigan State is fifth nationally in total defense at 279.4 yards a game. Ohio State is eighth a 300 yards a game.