Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Game Day

Best of the Big Ten



The Tuesday Morning Quarterback Midseason Awards continue …               

Big Ten’s best team: Ohio State. It hasn’t always been pretty for the Big Ten’s last unbeaten squad (8-0), but Urban Meyer’s got the program moving again after it hit an iceberg last fall.                

Big Ten’s best player: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State. In his second season in Columbus, Miller has shown himself to be every bit the passer Terelle Pryor was (11 touchdown passes) and an even more explosive runner (10 TD, 6.8 yards per carry).                

Big Ten’s best coach: Bill O’Brien, Penn State. After the NCAA dropped the bomb on Happy Valley, the Lions lost their best offensive player, opened the season with losses to Ohio and Virginia, and looked like they might fold the tent. But O’Brien has righted the ship, orchestrating a five-game winning streak.                

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Big Ten’s best game: Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 27, Sept. 29. The Cornhuskers rallied from a 17-point deficit in their league home opener, outscoring the Badgers 20-7 in the second half.              

Big Ten’s best narrative: It’s a hoops league, kids. The circuit was embarrassed in several September non-conference tussles — Iowa’s home loss to a terrible Central Michigan bunch was among the biggest head-scratchers — and looks unlikely to place a second team in the Bowl Championship Series picture as a result. The Big Ten will make noise nationally again — in March.



Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight…


TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT                

1. Kansas State (7-0) / vs. Texas Tech                

2. Oklahoma (5-1) / vs. Notre Dame                

3. Texas Tech (6-1) / vs. Kansas State               

4. Ohio State (8-0) / vs. Penn State                

5. Texas (5-2) / vs. Kansas                

6. Oklahoma State (4-2) / vs. TCU                

7. West Virginia (5-2) / Idle (vs. TCU, Nov. 3)                

8. Wisconsin (6-2) / vs. Michigan State



1.Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Sometimes, timing is everything: Klein had his best game as a collegian — 19-of-21 passing, four rushing touchdowns, three more scores through the air — on the Wildcats’ biggest stage to date. The 6-foot-5 Colorado native won’t win points for form, but that’s not what Klein is about. All he does is win, baby.                

2. Manti T’eo, LB, Notre Dame: The backbone of an Irish team that’s ridden its defense to a 7-0 start. T’eo recorded 10 tackles and a pick in Notre Dame’s 17-14 win over BYU on Saturday.               

3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: The Tide signal-caller has now racked up 16 touchdown passes with no interceptions after throwing for four scores in a 44-13 rout at Tennessee.



The games you won’t want to miss…                

1. Texas Tech at Kansas State, FOX, 2:30 p.m.: The Red Raiders can throw a wrench in the Big 12 title race, and in Klein’s Heisman hopes, in one fell swoop.                

2. Ohio State at Penn State, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.: Welcome to the Sanctions Bowl — arguably the best two teams in a watered-down Big Ten right now lock horns, and neither of them is eligible for the postseason, or the league’s title game.                

3. Notre Dame at Oklahoma, ABC, 6 p.m.: The Irish have a chance to stake a claim in the national title race — and make a serious statement. The Sooners haven’t beaten Notre Dame since 1956.



For 58 minutes, the Boilermakers’ coach had Ohio State on the ropes, clinging to a 22-14 lead at The Horseshoe. But an upset that could’ve been a season-saver got flipped on its head as the hosts rallied for a 29-22 win in overtime. The Boilers kept Braxton Miller in check — heck, they knocked the kid out of the game — but it wasn’t enough. With Purdue at 0-3 in the league, one of the pre-conference dark horses in the Leaders division now looks like just another mule. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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