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October 1, 2013

Big Ten Rewind: Week Five

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Half the Big Ten took it easy this past weekend...must be nice, huh? While some decided to call-in sick, others like Ohio State and Wisconsin held the fort down and provided us some good football. Let's review what was a rather light weekend in this week's Big Ten Rewind.

Miller > Guiton

And this is not a shot at the senior from Houston, Texas but watching the game Saturday night, I feel there really isn't an argument here. Many like to toss around the old saying "makes something out of nothing" and we've seen plenty of dual threat quarterbacks come through and dazzle us with their athletic ability.

Braxton Miller still has a lot to accomplish and prove before he leaves Columbus but he may go down as the best athletic quarterback to come from the Big Ten in the last 20 years, especially if he adds a BCS title to his resume. When it comes to Kenny Guiton, I rewind back to 2004 when the USC Trojans had both Matt Leinart and Matt Cassel. Sometimes playing the backup role your entire career isn't a death sentence. I feel Guiton's done enough to receive some attention from NFL scouts.

Now would it be to Ohio State's benefit to play both quarterbacks during games? You can have Miller take most of the snaps then unleash Guiton's arm and accuracy when needed, just like Northwestern does with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian. The argument can be made but the clear cut answer is no.

You just never place a talent like Miller on the bench unless he's physically unable to play. Last year Michigan found ways to get Denard Robinson on the field even though he couldn't grip a football. Guiton's arm is more advanced compared to Miller but there's not enough of a gap where you feel it hurts the team if Guiton's not out there in critical passing situations.

Wait! Aren't they a running team?

That question came to mind when the Badgers bailed on their bread and butter and began chucking the ball around. Before entering Ohio Stadium, quarterback Joel Stave was averaging nearly 24 passing attempts a game while the team was picking up around 44 carries per contest. Against the Buckeyes, Wisconsin had 34 passing attempts and 27 running plays.

Ohio State's defensive line should receive praise, after holding Melvin Gordon and James White to a mere 105 rushing yards. Their performance clearly factored into Wisconsin's play-calling in the second half. In the losing effort, both Stave (295 passing yards) and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (209 receiving yards) had career days.

Bye Week = Boring Week

I'd hate to say it but I missed our buddies from the Big Ten. Saturday's are just not as fun unless the Wolverines are struggling against the worst from the MAC. Or Mark Dantonio's four-man quarterback rotation fails to pick up first downs, let alone points. Or watching Taylor Martinez play, knowing he has to score 50-plus points to win the game.

I'm tired of complaining about the state of the Big Ten. Might as well sit back and enjoy the train-wreck.

Stat of the week

Nathan Scheelhaase has already tripled his passing touchdown total from last year, he will likely surpass his final passing numbers from a year ago this weekend against Nebraska and is sitting atop the Big Ten in many passing categories. What a difference a year makes.

Week Five Power Rankings

1.) Ohio State - Finally got their quality win but they can't celebrate too long with Northwestern on the horizon.
2.) Northwestern - Rested and ready to host the Buckeyes. If the Wildcats want to be taken seriously on a national level, defeating OSU is required.
3.) Michigan - One of three undefeated teams in the conference but for how long? For their sake, they better be ready for the Golden Gophers.
4.) Penn State - Possibly the best bye week Penn State has ever had. Reducing their sanctions may be the boost needed as they head into Big Ten play.
5.) Wisconsin - Battled hard in the Horseshoe but just fell short. While Gordon was held in check, Stave proved to be more than just a handoff specialist.
6.) Michigan State - We should know a lot more about this team after their trip through Kinnick Stadium. They really need to just pick a QB and roll with him.
7.) Nebraska - If they had a competent defense, they're likely sitting at number two. Slowing down the Illini offense is no longer an easy task.
8.) Iowa - Starting to look like the Hawkeyes of old. Perhaps the team knew their coach was on the hot seat? Defeating Sparty will go a long way.
9.) Illinois - They're better, compared to last year's crew but we need to see more from the Illini before allowing them to shoot up the board.
10.) Minnesota - Getting shutdown by the Hawkeyes was a wake-up call. The offense was exposed and appears to be one dimensional.
11.) Indiana - Still a bit of a sleeper in the conference. The offense will give them a chance to pick up a few upsets this fall.
12.) Purdue - An embarrassing effort against Northern Illinois. Will likely never get a second win this season.

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