Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Big Ten Notebook: Illini on the move

Around the country, many would say Michigan is the class of the Big Ten, and rightfully so.

But there is a team down in Champaign that is off the radar screens of many. Sure, Illinois is 7-1 and currently sitting atop the Big Ten standings, but where is the national respect?

Illinois is ranked 15th in this week’s AP poll, second lowest among teams with one loss. The Big Ten is surely aware of Ron Turner’s talented group, though.

Purdue definitely knows how dangerous Illinois is. Last week, the Illini came into Lafayette, where Purdue was 24-3 under Joe Tiller, and soundly defeated the Boilermakers 38-13.

Illinois was led again by its senior quarterback, Kurt Kittner. The Illini passer currently leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game and is one of five finalists for the Unitas Award, the honor given to the top senior quarterback in the nation.

“He has great command of the game,” Tiller said. “He has mastered their system, has great composure and knows where he is going with the football.”

While the offense has been outstanding all year for Illinois, it has been the improvement on the defensive side of the ball that has grabbed the attention of the Big Ten coaches.

“Illinois is very, very solid on defense,” Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. “They are a very veteran team, and they come up big defensive plays when they need them.”

The Illini defense has been more stout this season, especially against the run. Last season, Illinois ranked second to last in rushing defense. This season, they are giving up nearly 100 fewer yards per game and are ranked a respectable 45th.

“They’re much more aggressive, they’re more innovative, and they sure look like they’re having more fun on defense,” Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone defense Purdue as well as they did last week.”

Wrapping up a career: Antwaan Randle El is coming to end of his remarkable college career at Indiana, and everyone in the Big Ten is thankful for being able to see such a great talent. They are even more thankful they won’t have to see him again.

Randle El is the most overlooked player in the country, largely due to the lack of success the Hoosiers have had during his career. But statistics simply do not lie. Randle El has one of the most impressive individual resumes in college football history. Last week, he added the honor of becoming the only player to have 40 touchdowns both passing and rushing and was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week.

“I don’t think there is an award in this country that he wouldn’t be deserving of,” Indiana head coach Cam Cameron said. “He is truly an amazing player, and I have felt really fortunate to have been around him the last few years.”

Randle El truly has the ability to take over a game and be a one-man show.

“With a player as talented as he is, you can never say that you’re going to shut him down,” Michigan State coach Bobby Williams said. “You’ve just got to try and contain him as best you can.”

Of course, because of the lowly state of the Indiana football program, Randle El has never been a serious Heisman candidate, despite exemplifying all the qualities a Heisman Trophy winner should. But there is no player in the Big Ten who is more feared or more highly regarded by his peers.

“If there is better football player out there, not only this year, but throughout his career, I’d like to see him,” Cameron added.

Damien Anderson Down: Northwestern’s running back Damien Anderson will miss the first game of his career, and his season could be over after he dislocated his shoulder against Indiana last week.

“He’s definitely out this week,” Northwestern head coach Randy Walker said. “It’s likely that he’ll miss the rest of the season at this point, but that’s not a certainty.”

Anderson came off a sensational junior season in which he rushed for over 2,000 yards and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He was one of the preseason favorites to win the award this season, but has struggled, amassing only 757 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He has been all the right things for us, and we are not going to do anything to jeopardize his future, because I think he has a future in football,” Walker added.

Anderson is currently the sixth-leading rusher in Big Ten history and Northwestern’s all-time leader in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and rushing touchdowns.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *