Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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The weekend of David vs. Goliath

One of the highlights for Big Ten football this week is some of the David-vs.-Goliath matchups. These are games where everyone looks and thinks they see an automatic victory for a dominant team. However, the underdog team sees an opportunity to play the devilish role of spoiler.

This weekend, the No. 5-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes play Minnesota, No.16 Penn State takes on Indiana and No. 2 Ohio State takes on Illinois.

All of these seem like David-vs.-Goliath battles, but one cannot overlook that all of the ranked teams will be on the road, and fans will be revved up to see if they can take down the highly ranked opponent.

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Illinois head coach Ron Turner will have his team pumped for their game against the undefeated Buckeyes.

“Having an opportunity to play a top team is exciting,” Turner said. “Hopefully, we’ll come out ready and hang with them.”

On the other side, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz tries to remind his team that although they are now the hunted, they know how hungry the hunter will be.

“We all remember when not that long ago we were not having that much success,” Ferentz said. “Our guys know they need to stay humble.”

However, don’t be too surprised to see the fans of one of the three underdogs’ teams storming the field after a huge upset.

Talk of the town

One of the biggest surprise breakthroughs this season has been Iowa senior quarterback Brad Banks. Banks is having a career season, throwing for over 2000 yards and 23 touchdowns so far. Banks was named offensive player of the week in the Big Ten, and his name is becoming a respected one around the country.

“He (Banks) plays with great confidence,” said Indiana head coach Gerry Dinardo. “He thinks in a positive way on every play.”

Banks’ coach, Ferentz, knew he had something special after Banks bounced back from his only poor game in Iowa’s sole loss against Iowa State.

“That indicated he (Banks) was a very resilient player,” Ferentz said. “He has played very well ever since that point.”

Barring a loss, Banks has his team posed to make a trip to Pasadena, Calif. to play in the Rose Bowl Jan. 1.

Quarterbacks carry the load

While Banks has received recent credit for the turnaround at Iowa, other quarterbacks around the league, like Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker, had much of the blame placed squarely on their shoulders after their teams performed poorly. While the quarterback position is one that naturally comes with spotlight, some coaches around the league feel like more focus has been placed on the QB than should rightfully be there.

“It’s the nature of the position,” argued Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr. “You get too much blame (in loss), and yet there are times they deserve the recognition when their team wins.”

Still, coaches agreed that quarterback play was indeed important to having a winning season.

“Every good team has good quarterback play,” Dinardo said. “There’s no way around it.”

Graduation money?

Recently there has been a push to improve college athletes’ graduation rates. One proposal opts for the graduation rate of a team to have a direct impact on the amount of money a team can spend on recruiting players. While still in the idea stages, some coaches didn’t mind choosing sides.

“Some schools are in transition,” Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. “If you don’t give an opportunity in numbers to the institution to make the transition, it makes it harder then it already is.”

Penn State coach Joe Paterno, however, saw the positive in such a program.

“[The proposal] has good intentions,” Paterno said. “We are here to do everything we can to help a player graduate and play good football.”

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