Posted by Walter
The best throw of the day, and perhaps the prettiest of the whole year, belonged to Cincinatti's (1) Ben Mauk, who threw a beautiful scoring strike into the right corner of the endzone on a dead sprintout. Anyone who watched that game, or saw highlights, knows exactly what play I am talking about......For all the hype and hooplah, the (2) Michigan-Ohio State game was just terribly played. For anyone who wondered just how bad the Big 10 actually was this year, that game should serve ample notice. Stat of the game, the two starting QB's (Henne and Boeckman) combined to complete just 18 of 47 passes for a paltry 118 yards. Seriously, I'd rather see Hawaii in the BCS title game than Ohio State......Speaking of potential title game QB's, (3) Pat White, we all know you can run the ball, but try holding on to it one time!......Last year you may recall me gushing about Florida hybrid WR/TE Cornelius Ingram and his superb combination of size and cacthing ability. Well, I think I've found another deep sleeper in Illinois WR (4) Jeff Cumberland. Although the 6'5'' 244 lbs. sophomore hasn't put up a lot of numbers this year, he was simply amazing Saturday against Northwestern catching 4 balls for 131 yards and a TD. Most impressive, though, was how fluid and athletic the big man looked in making several tough catches. This Illinois team is going to be something special next year......As good as Cumberland was, though, the best pass catcher I saw all weekend was Mizzou freshman (5) Jeremy Maclin. They say he can run the 40 in 4.2 seconds. After watching him against KState, 9 catches for 143 yards and 2 TD to go along with several unreal kick returns, I believe it.......You don't have to be a football genius to see that (6) Matt Ryan is special. His numbers may not be as great as you want them to be, and his INT totals are up, but it is undeniable that when the game is on the line he has the rare ability to elevate his game to an atmospheric level.......Is the (7) Big 10 finally ready to step into the 21st century? Don't laugh, bear with me here. It started 10 years ago when Joe Tiller brought his spread offense to the Big 10 and put up some historic offensive numbers with Drew Brees. It was continued with guys like the late Randy Walker, Ron Zook and, gulp, even Joe Paterno installing spread offenses. And now it appears that the balance of power in the conference is about to shift, for the first time in....well ever, to some teams that eschew the 3 yards and a cloud of dust mentality that has basically become a conference mantra. We all see what is happening in Illinois, a team that will no doubt be favored to win the Big 10 in 2008, but in terms of returning talent the second best team might be the Michigan State Spartans, another team committed to the putting up points in the passing game. With traditional powers like Michigan and Iowa in disarray, and Ohio State still stinging from their blowout loss to Florida (which will be magnified if the Buckeyes make it to the BCS title game this year and get blown out again), I think it is clear that for the first time ever the winds are blowing in a different direction in the Midwest......Does it get any better than (8) Chase Daniel vs. (9) Todd Reesing this Saturday? Those guys are great players, great kids, and great stories, and, assuming the Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard can keep up, should meet and play an epic game on Saturday.......The best story of the day, by far, had to be what happened at South Bend Indiana, where the (10) Indiana Hoosiers, buoyed by an inspirational speech from the widow of their late coach Terry Hoeppner, managed to pull one out against their hated rivals Purdue. What happened to Coach Hep and the Indiana football program was a tragedy, but the way that team and community has pulled together has been nothing short of inspirational. Mrs. Hoeppner, whose connection to the team has only strengthened since her husband's death, put it best when she opined that through each other both she and the Indiana football team maintain their connection to Coach Hoeppner. Sometimes football can really be a beautiful thing.