Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Season winds to close

With BCS leader Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) at the top of the
conference, the college football world's eyes will be on the Big Ten and the
Buckeyes as they attempt to remain perfect in the final two weeks. After their
well documented struggles early on, the resurgent No.12 Michigan Wolverines
(8-2, 6-0) will look to make a run at OSU and the Conference championship.
Michigan would appreciate the help this weekend from conference rival Illinois
against the No. 1 team in the land before it takes on the Buckeyes next weekend
in Ann Arbor.

Illinois, too, would like to play spoiler this weekend as
they travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. The Illini are familiar with
playing highly touted teams as they defeated then No. 5 Wisconsin in October.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook does not necessarily see this
week's preparation as tantamount to any other circumstance.

“Once again, we’ve got to take care of us," said Zook
during the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "We told our team last night that the
only different thing is that you are preparing for the No. 1 team in the
nation. The only thing that means is that you are preparing for an awfully good
football team. We’ve still got to do the things that we’ve done to get to this

Sitting in third place in the conference, Illinois is
looking to continue its winning streak after two consecutive victories,
including last week's 44-17 stomping of Minnesota.

"We know that we’re not what we are supposed to be, but we
know we are improving," Zook said. "The one thing that that gives us is an
opportunity as a program to see that we have made progress from the first game
this year to now.


"Now, we have to go see where we are, and this will be a
great measuring stick for us.”

While OSU will look to stay unbeaten and play for a National
Championship, three Big Ten teams — Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern — are
still searching for their highly coveted sixth win and Bowl eligibility.

Northwestern hosts Indiana, Iowa faces Minnesota, but Michigan
State faces the toughest challenge at Purdue. Even though the multitude of
these Bowl games are often considered trite, all three schools would enjoy the
opportunity to reach them in order to improve as football programs.

"I think it’s very important we get to a bowl game,"
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said.

At the same time, Dantonio emphasized the importance of
taking the football season one step at a time.

"We’ve been sort of stuck on No. 5 for quite some time here,
so we’ve been talking about it just as a reality," Dantonio said. "We’re going
to continue to play it through. It’s got to go one play at a time."

Other teams in the Big Ten — Purdue, Wisconsin and Penn
State — are just trying to remain focused and jockey for a position that would
place them in a more prestigious bowl game like a trip to Tampa Bay for the
Outback Bowl.

Penn State plays out of conference at in-state rival Temple
this week. These games have become common late in the season.

Because of these quirks in the schedule, cellar-dweller
Minnesota (1-9, 0-6) has more to look forward to than Penn State, as they play
in two straight "trophy" games against Iowa and Wisconsin. 

"I know since I've been on the job that I've learned a great
deal about the trophy games and how important they are to all Minnesotans and
how important they are to the University of Minnesota to go play well against
Iowa and win," Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster said. "We have the Floyd of
Rosedale here in our presence today, and we'd like very much to keep that pig
right here in the Twin Cities.

"These next two weeks will be amazing weeks for us all
because we'll be playing big rivalry games against Iowa and Wisconsin. It's
what college football is all about."

With Minnesota still playing for pride, a pig and axe,
three teams fighting for bowl eligibility, and the No. 1 team in the nation
looking to stay atop college football, the coming weeks promise to be exciting
for football in the Big Ten.

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