USC will host the West Coast Campus Pride College Prep Day & Fair for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender high school students on Saturday, hoping to help the students find a school that suits them and to showcase USC’s LGBT community.Campus Pride, a non-profit organization that works with LGBT-friendly campuses throughout the country, is partnering with USC’s LGBT Resource Center to host the annual event.The fair, which began at UC San Diego three years ago, allows high school students and parents to interact with colleges from across the country.“We work with LGBT colleges across the nation in order to build future leaders and to build safer and friendlier universities,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. “The fair program has taken off.”The USC LGBT Resource Center approached Windmeyer this year about bringing the fair to Los Angeles.“We lobbied for it,” said Vincent Vigil, executive director of the LGBT Resource Center. “We thought USC was in a perfect location for this conference. The thought was to bring the event to USC in order to increase attendance and awareness of LGBT events.”At the fair, students will have the chance to interact with representatives from more than 20 different universities, Windmeyer said. The representatives will be able to talk to prospective students and explain what makes their campuses LGBT-friendly.Carolyn Laub, executive director of the Gay Straight Alliance Network, said she believes LGBT students look for specific aspects when considering a campus.“Students look to see that the college has policies that include not only sexual orientation but also gender and expression,” Laub said. “It is important for these students to be accepted on campus and to have nondiscrimination protections.”Laub said the fair also benefits the participating schools.“It’s an important way for colleges that are LGBT-friendly to show how much they want to support and include LGBT students,” she said.USC will be among the schools marketing themselves to LGBT students Saturday.The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, written by Windmeyer and published in 2006, named USC one of the top 20 most LGBT-friendly colleges.Students at USC said they think the LGBT community has improved over the years.“USC is incredibly LGBT-friendly,” said Richard Fletcher, the assistant director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Assembly. “Seeing how accepting the campus was made me feel more comfortable about my own identity.”Karen Marcus, public relations chair for the GLBTA, said the group has begun expanding its reach on campus.“We are reaching out to different sectors,” Marcus said of the organization’s partnerships with campus ethnic and religious groups. “And I think it has worked.”Fletcher, a USC representative at the fair last year, said the fair would have been useful to him when he was choosing schools.“It’s a great step for universities to reach out to LGBT students. Vincent has done a great job getting the word out,” Fletcher said.Unlike other fairs, the event at USC will also feature a college-prep component. The prep day will consist of three workshops in the morning, followed by lunch, the actual fair and a tour of the campus.The fair will give prospective LGBT students an opportunity to learn about college, how to apply for scholarships and gain insight to the LGBT program.“Particularly, we want to teach what questions to ask when students are considering to apply,” Windmeyer said.Vigil said he believes the partnership between USC’s LGBT community and Campus Pride speaks to the heart of the university.“I think that in relation to USC’s standards in terms of reaching out to the community we are aligned with those standards,” he said.
Rachelle Dondrea, a freshman majoring in psychology, found herself struggling to pay for school when her Navy ROTC scholarship fell through. She hurried to submit her financial aid documents on time and ultimately had to take out a number of loans to pay her tuition.But what Dondrea did not know is that the Financial Aid Office has a process for considering students’ extenuating circumstances.“I didn’t know about it,” Dondrea said. “I was already a semester late paying for previous tuition. I had to rush and didn’t think I had time.”Most of the students who were scrambling Tuesday night to file their financial aid forms will be given an aid package in July and not think about it again. But a few will find themselves back in the Financial Aid Office, appealing for more money because of changes to their families’ financial situations.Though USC says it doesn’t set aside any money for students who unexpectedly need it, Guy Hunter, assistant dean of Financial Aid, said students who find themselves in trouble should file appeals with the financial aid office because they could get more money.“They’d have to submit documentation, like a loss of employment letter,” Hunter said. “Then we’d re-evaluate their financial aid. If we find that a student’s need increases, we would fund that student.”This year, Hunter said, many students were faced with sudden changes to their financial circumstances, largely because of the economic downturn and a major increase in job losses. He said the number of financial aid appeals filed this year nearly tripled from last year, from 500 to approximately 1,500.Appeals are considered by a committee and based on a standardized system. They are also dependant on the amount of money left to give. Though not all appeals come to fruition, Hunter said it is to a student’s advantage to apply and talk with a counselor.“My guess is anything greater than a $3,000 difference would generate a change [in financial aid],” he said. “But it’s not a dollar-for-dollar thing. If they feel their situation has changed, we encourage students to submit an appeal.”But some students, like Dondrea, are not aware of this opportunity.Dondrea said, after she did not get the aid she needed, she went to the Financial Aid Office to ask what she could do. The only advice she got, however, was to apply for loans.“I had to rush [FAFSA] and didn’t do the CSS Profile. My parents had to take private loans but were already denied because of poor credit scores,” Dondrea said.Dondrea’s parents ended up qualifying for a Parent PLUS loan, which requires a less in-depth background check. She was then awarded $13,000 in university grants and aid but continues to struggle to find ways to pay off her accumulating debt.“I do feel they could have done something more for me,” Dondrea said.USC Financial Aid officials said they do what they can while being fair to all the students who are able to apply for financial aid on time.Hunter said the amount of aid given to students who ask for more financial aid after the deadline depends mostly on how much funding is available after financial aid packages are given out.“There’s not money we set aside; it’s really based on availability of funds,” Hunter said. “We disburse it to students who apply on time, so when there’s no money their funding might be different.”
On Tuesday, Alando Tucker picked up the phone, answering a call from teammate Kammron Taylor.It was then that Tucker heard the news: Taylor had made all-conference second team … oh yeah, and Tucker was Big Ten Player of the Year.”That’s pretty much how it went,” Tucker laughed. “He was pretty much jumping up and down when he told me.”And who could blame him, or Taylor, for being in a good mood as both were honored by the conference and its media?Tucker became the sixth Wisconsin player to win the award and the first since Devin Harris earned the honor in 2004.”It’s a great accomplishment, for myself and for my team,” Tucker said. “I like to set personal goals, and I like to set them high. That was definitely at the top of my list.”Tucker was the conference’s second-leading scorer at 19.7 points per game in league play, also averaging 6.1 rebounds per game.Taylor totally endorsed the achievement, calling Tucker the key to Wisconsin’s historic season.”He means everything,” Taylor said. “We definitely wouldn’t be in the position we are without him.”While Tucker was a consensus winner, there was a debate over whether Tucker or Ohio State freshman phenom Greg Oden would be awarded the honor. In Taylor’s mind, however, there was never any question as to who was most worthy of the honor.”There was a debate?” Taylor said. “I thought he was a unanimous decision. There was not doubt in my mind that he was going to get it.”Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan couldn’t agree more.”I’m extremely proud of Alando and all that he has done for the University of Wisconsin during his career,” Ryan said in a statement. “Being honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year is the icing on the cake for what has been an outstanding five years. It is nice to see that his hard work has culminated in such a prestigious individual honor.”Taylor was ecstatic to receive acknowledgment for his play also, being named to the second team by both the coaches and media.”I’m very excited,” Taylor said. “That’s another accomplishment that I’ve done here at Wisconsin. That’s the way to go out my senior year.”Also receiving recognition was junior guard Michael Flowers, who was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team.”Mike is very deserving of that,” Taylor said. “He gets the toughest assignment every night and for the most part, he’s done a great job.”Junior center Brian Butch rounded out the list as an all-conference honorable mention.”Kam, Brian and Michael are also very well-deserving of their honors,” Ryan said. “It is a tribute to the program as well as their personal achievements that they were recognized. They have each played a large role in our success as a team this season.”Next up for Tucker individually is the John Wooden Award, awarded to the nation’s best player, an honor the senior forward is in the running for.”That’s within my reach. I’m definitely aiming for that,” Tucker said. “As long as we are winning, as long as we are successful and I keep doing the things that I’m doing to help us be successful, that’s definitely within my reach.”In Taylor’s mind, though, there once again is no debate.”He’s the best player in the country, hands down,” Taylor said. “A lot of people talk about the things that Kevin Durant is doing, but Tuck is a winner, he’s a proven winner. Tuck means everything to this team.”
For 18 games this season, the New England Patriots looked like a team of destiny. They seemed poised to shove the 1972 Dolphins aside and claim the title as the best undefeated team of all time.Until Sunday.Sunday, the Patriots lost their first game of the season, just minutes away from becoming 19-0.Actually, I take that back. New England didn?t lose Sunday; they were beaten. The New York Giants flat out beat them. And deservedly so.Although Eli Manning won Sunday?s MVP honors, he was not the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLII. Neither was David Tyree or even Plaxico Burress. Super Bowl XLII was won in the trenches, and the tougher team came out on top.In baseball, monster home runs and 11-9 slugfests sell tickets. But real fans who understand and appreciate the game would much rather see a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The same can be said for football. Fans love the Chad Johnsons and Randy Mosses of the world because they?re flashy and fun to watch. But football fans who really study the game will tell you that nine times out of 10, the team that wins the line-of-scrimmage battle walks away victorious.That?s what happened Sunday night.For 18 games the Patriots? offensive line ? one made up of three 2008 Pro Bowlers ? gave regular season MVP Tom Brady all the time in the world. All season, Brady sat in the pocket, surveyed the field, and delivered a strike to one of many talented receivers donned in red, white, and blue.Not Sunday.Sunday, the Giants? front four gave the Pats? offensive line all they could handle. And then some.The G-Men sacked Brady five times, but it seemed like 15, as Brady was swarmed by white jerseys all night long, looking like Badger quarterback Tyler Donovan in last month?s Outback Bowl.The Giants? defensive line, led by current Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora, former Pro Bowler Michael Strahan and future Pro Bowler Michael Tuck, made Brady look like, well, Eli Manning ? the sideline pouting, elementary schoolgirl-faced Manning that former Giants running back Tiki Barber (boy, he must feel like a chump) threw under the bus, of course. Not the Manning who miraculously transformed into Super Bowl MVP once the 2008 playoffs began.As dominating as New York?s defensive line was Sunday night, its offensive line was just as impressive. With big brother Peyton watching enviously (though he?ll deny it until the day he dies) from his luxury box, Eli dropped back unscathed time after time, looking Brady and Peyton-esque.So what does this all mean?It means that come April, teams need to reconsider their respective draft boards. Do linemen deserve more love come draft time?I believe so.In 2006, everyone (including myself) thought Charlie Casserly, general manager of the Houston Texans, was a moron for selecting North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams over USC running back Reggie Bush. He said he was trying to emulate the Patriots in believing Williams could become the next Richard Seymour. After Williams finished fourth in the league with 14 sacks in 2007 and Bush has become nothing more than a marketable face at this point, Casserly doesn?t look like such an idiot after all, does he?It?s easy for GMs to make the sexy Reggie Bush-like pick in NFL Drafts. That?s what fans want. Jets fans booed their management in ?06 when New York failed to trade up to get Bush and settled for Virginia left tackle D?Brickashaw Ferguson at No. 4.Insert feet in mouths.The Cleveland Browns made the same decision last year, drafting Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas instead of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn (even though they ended up with Quinn later in the first round). Cleveland fans were upset at the time. Now Thomas is a rookie Pro Bowler; passing up on him would have been criminal.Still upset?In my mind, the range among the NFL?s top quarterbacks and running backs is smaller than that among offensive and defensive linemen. A great offensive line can make any NFL running back Pro Bowl-worthy. Just look at the Denver Broncos. I?m pretty sure I could rush for 1,000 yards behind that line.Granted, there are gems that come around every once in a while, like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson or the Chargers? LaDainian Tomlinson. But remember, Bush and Michael Vick were supposed to revolutionize their respective positions, too. How did that work out?More often than not, offensive line is a ?what you see is what you get? position. Skill players are more risky and, in my mind, less valuable overall.Bill Parcells? Dolphins have the first pick in the upcoming draft. He should ? and I think he will ? select LSU?s mammoth defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. With Dorsey, Miami defensive end Jason Taylor will have a career year, and the Fins once-stingy defense can start to get back on track.Dorsey is a game changer. He?ll never actually touch the football, but then again, the real difference makers typically never do.Derek is a sophomore majoring in economics. If you think linemen are overrated in the NFL, or you just want to wish Derek a happy birthday, you can e-mail him at email@example.com.
GREG DIXON/Herald photoWhen Wisconsin and Minnesota get together for any sport,there is always intensity between the two teams. But when the No. 5 Badgers(23-7-2, 19-5-2 WCHA) head to Ridder Arena this weekend to take on the No. 4Gophers (25-4-3, 21-4-1) in the final regular season weekend, a lot more willbe on the line. With UW four points behind Minnesota-Duluth, and Minnesotaonly one point back, both teams enter the weekend with a shot at winning theWCHA regular season title. At the very least, second place and the No. 2 seedin the WCHA playoffs is on the line. With all that on the line, it gives the rivalry extraintensity, according to UW head coach Mark Johnson.?It adds a little more heat,? Johnson said. ?I don?t know ifit adds pressure, but it certainly adds meaning to it. It makes the game funnerto play in when there are things on the line. You come down to our last tworegular season games, and you have an opportunity to move up in the standingsif you do well. To me that creates excitement.?However, a lot has changed since the last time these twoteams met in November at the Kohl Center. Minnesota was still adjusting to newhead coach Brad Frost ? who took over the program after Laura Halldorsonstepped down in August ? while Wisconsin was still adjusting to the loss of asenior class that led the team to two national championships. The Badgers and Gophers ended up splitting that weekend, butsince that time, Minnesota has gone on a tear. After losing their next game toconference leading UMD, the Gophers have not dropped a game, going 19-0-2 intheir last 21 games.?They found a formula with the coaching staff that utilizestheir assets, which is speed and puck movement, and try and create scoringopportunities,? Johnson said. ?They?ve been able to do that and have success.?Wisconsin also enters this weekend on a hot streak winning13 out of its last 14, with its only loss to Minnesota-Duluth. The Badgers arealso coming off a pair of shutouts over Bemidji State, which they hope willgive them momentum this weekend.?Both Alannah (McCready) and (Jesse) Vetter played great,and that boosted the confidence of the team in both goalies,? captain EmilyMorris said. ?I think that will carry some energy over into this comingweekend.?While Minnesota might be one of the hottest teams in thecountry, Wisconsin has one thing on its side this weekend: the last seven timesthe Badgers have gone into Minnesota, they have come out with the win. ?We just have a little extra excitement anytime, anywhereyou play Minnesota,? Vetter said. ?I think we just enjoy playing at Ridder(Arena) because it?s such a nice rink and such a great facility. They get agood amount of fans to come to the game, and we build off that excitement fromthe crowd and just try and play some good hockey.?If Wisconsin is going to come out of the weekend with itsninth straight win at Minnesota, it will have to find a way to shut down theGophers? high-scoring offense. Gigi Marvin, who leads the WCHA in points, leadsthe Minnesota offense that averages 3.59 goals per game. ?They just have an explosive offense,? Vetter said. ?Theyare always moving. They got a lot of depth. They definitely can bring it to youwith their first through third line. You just got to be aware of their speedand their ability to make things happen.?However, the Badgers know they will have a good shot atgetting another sweep if they are able to limit their penalties and make themost out of every power play they get.?When you look at this weekend, as you get ready for theplayoffs, those things have to be in place if you?re going to move on in thetournament,? Johnson said. ?Your power play has to work. Your special teams,your penalty killing has to work and your goaltender has to be good. If you?remissing one of those ingredients, then the chances of winning aren?t as high.?Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Johnson likesplaying Minnesota right before the playoffs because he believes it will preparehis team for another title run.?When you play against a good opponent, an opponent who isvery high in the rankings, it?s going to make you a better hockey club,?Johnson said. ?It?s going to make your group go up a couple of steps. Certainly,when we come back and get organized for our playoff weekend, we are going to bemuch better off than we are this weekend.?
With Big Ten conference action kicking off this weekend, Herald Sports decided to contact the sports editors from every other Big Ten school campus newspaper and get their take on the Big Ten’s pecking order.Due to middling success in the conference the past few years, predictions tended to be positive as the top four spots are achievable for almost any team.Here is a list of the Herald’s predicted conference standings, along with commentary and predictions from the school’s respective football writers.No. 11 — Purdue (1-2)Purdue Exponent prediction — Sixth place. “Call me delusional, but Purdue isn’t nearly as bad as everyone expected they would be this year. Sophomore running back Ralph Bolden is the nation’s No. 2 rusher right now, though I expect that will change once teams start catching on.I predict Purdue will finish somewhere between fifth and seventh in the Big Ten this season. Indiana will be last, and Penn State and Ohio State will be the top two, but everyone in between has looked shaky at times this season.Don’t get me wrong — Purdue has plenty of things it needs to improve on from their first three games, but the Boilers will surprise at least one Big Ten team this season and be competitive in the majority of their games. In order to do that, however, the defense has to start tackling. In each of their first three games fans saw ball carriers bounce off defenders so much it looked like pinball at times. Another thing that is slowing the Boilers’ progress is mistakes offensively. First-year starter Joey Elliott has shown glimpses of how good a quarterback he can be, but has also made a lot of dumb mistakes.One problem Purdue has shown so far this season is inconsistency. Purdue opened the Danny Hope era with a good win against a Toledo team that dominated Colorado a week later. The Boilers followed that up with a two-point loss at Oregon in a game that started at 10:23 p.m. in West Lafayette, Ind. That game, though a loss, had the team in high spirits with its potential.Last week those spirits were crushed when Purdue was manhandled by Northern Illinois in Ross-Ade Stadium. With Notre Dame coming to town this weekend, it will be interesting to see how Hope’s team responds in its final test before Big Ten play begins.” — Zach Langdon No. 10 — Indiana (3-0)Indiana Daily Student prediction — 10th place. “After only one Big Ten victory last season, the Indiana Hoosiers were predicted to sit in the conference’s cellar again in 2009.With three wins in as many games, IU is already exceeding expectations.Led by junior quarterback Ben Chappell, whose 68.5 completion percentage paces the team’s offense, the Hoosiers enter the Big Ten season ninth in points scored per game, sixth in third-down conversions and tied for first in wins.IU goes with a multi-back rushing attack, but the leader of the group is senior Demetrius McCray with 235 yards for a 5.4 yards per carry average.Chappell has had a problem creating big plays, though, as the Hoosiers average just 228.7 yards passing per game.Defensively, the Hoosiers return nine starters, and All-Big Ten senior defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton lead the team. Together, the tandem has combined for 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.The Hoosiers are young at defensive tackle, but it hasn’t prevented them from stopping the run. This year, opponents are averaging only 76 yards rushing per game and 2.5 yards per carry.Heading into the Big Ten season, history is working against IU. The school has not brought home a Big Ten championship since 1967, and games at Michigan and Penn State and against Ohio State don’t make 2009 an easy year to snap the drought.Only one bowl game appearance in 16 years doesn’t leave much hope for that, either, but before Big Ten games start, the Hoosiers are halfway to bowl-eligible status.” — Sean MorrisonNo. 9 — Illinois (1-1)The Daily Illini prediction — Sixth place. “The 2009 Illinois football team already appears to be primed for a letdown of a season. A season-opening blowout loss to Missouri and an unimpressive win against Illinois State have done little to back up the high expectations this season’s team had coming into the year. While the Illini’s hopes aren’t completely destroyed, the road to a great season won’t be easy the rest of the way.At best, Illinois will finish 4-4 in the Big Ten and end up in the middle of the pack in the conference standings. The Illini’s surefire wins should be in back-to-back road contests at Indiana and Purdue, while home games against Michigan State and Northwestern could add a couple wins to Illinois’ record.Illinois’ defense was suspect when the year began, and it has only gone downhill from there. Safety Donsay Hardeman can’t tackle or cover anyone, and cornerback Miami Thomas and linebacker Martez Wilson are both out for the season. Thomas was supposed to be a starting cornerback, and Wilson was the anchor of the defense at middle linebacker in the team’s first two games. Wilson’s injury is the most significant setback the Illini have seen so far, but minor injuries to junior wide receiver Arrelious Benn and senior quarterback Juice Williams have also provided speed bumps for the Orange and Blue.For the Illini to turn this season around, they will need to learn to play pass defense and utilize one of the top-ranked offensive attacks in the country. Otherwise, this year could end up as a repeat of 2008’s 5-7 debacle.” — Alex IniguezNo. 8 — Minnesota (2-1)The Minnesota Daily prediction — Third place. “After a 2008 season which saw Minnesota lose its last six games, the Gophers are looking to improve on a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten.Behind junior quarterback Adam Weber and senior wide receiver Eric Decker, the Gophers have the talent to play with every team in the Big Ten.With Minnesota’s high-powered passing offense as well as one of the strongest linebacker corps in the nation, I think the Gophers will finish third in the Big Ten behind Penn State and Ohio State. I originally thought the Gophers would end the season in fifth with Michigan State and Iowa ahead of them, but after seeing the Gophers play a tough Cal team all the way into the fourth quarter, it’s clear the Gophers’ tough competition will benefit them in conference play.Minnesota may not post any impressive wins in the Big Ten, but for as much talent and experience as the team has, it’s hard to imagine the team cannot improve on a 7-6 season from a year ago.The Gophers have changed their offensive look as they try to run the ball more and take snaps under center, which is something that could have helped them win some close games last year. As long as the Gophers play solid defense, develop a run game and find Decker down the field, this team will be among the top of the conference come season’s end.” — Josh KatzensteinNo. 7 — Northwestern (2-1)The Daily Northwestern prediction — Fifth place. “If there’s one thing to take from the first three weeks of the season, it’s clear Northwestern is going to play to its level of competition. That has become a staple of Pat Fitzgerald’s hard-nosed pump-the-team-up mentality and coaching style. The Wildcats have the talent to play with almost anyone in the country, as they proved against Missouri in last year’s Alamo Bowl. They’re also capable of struggling to put opponents away, as they did this year against Eastern Michigan.Senior quarterback Mike Kafka is a true dual-threat quarterback, but he isn’t surrounded by many offensive playmakers. The team graduated its top three wide receivers and top two running backs from a year ago. And this team’s strength was supposed to be its defense, which graduated just three starters from last year’s stout unit. That hasn’t been the case so far, as NU has struggled to generate a pass rush off the edge, and the secondary doesn’t seem to be able to tackle anything that moves. Although pundits and prognosticators often think of Northwestern as the perennial doormat of the Big Ten, that hasn’t been the case since NU went to the Rose Bowl in 1996. In fact, the Cats have the sixth-best composite conference record (24-24) over the last six seasons, just ahead of Purdue and Michigan State. And since the Purple went to Pasadena, only four Big Ten programs have winning records against NU. For those reasons, Northwestern is going to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.” — Matt FormanNo. 6 — Wisconsin (3-0)I have never been less certain about a team than I am with the Badgers this season. It is easy in some ways to envision their success, but two fourth quarter/overtime scares keep popping into my mind.One the one hand, Scott Tolzien has looked accurate and poised, but three games a season does not make. Those two interceptions against Northern Illinois will also be hard to overcome against Big Ten competition.The running game has yet to really click, a concern for anyone who has watched the Badgers play since 1990. John Clay and Zach Brown certainly have the talent, but a combination of factors has stopped them from really breaking out.On defense you know big plays will come from defensive end O’Brien Schofield and safety Chris Maragos, but after that questions remain in the secondary and the ability of the defensive line to pressure the quarterback. A relatively easy schedule could pave the way for a big finish by the Badgers, but nothing should surprise fans anymore. — Michael BleachNo. 5 — Michigan State (1-2)The State News prediction — Fourth place. “Despite a rocky start in their nonconference schedule, a top-four finish is not out of the realm of possibility for Michigan State.While the defense has struggled against spread attacks from Central Michigan and Notre Dame, the offense has been stellar, averaging 33.7 points per game. Sophomore Kirk Cousins has emerged as the team’s leader on and off the field. Against teams that don’t run a spread offense, the Spartans should fare well. With a good set of linebackers, including preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Greg Jones, Michigan State has shown the ability to stop the run, but the secondary has struggled against thepass and tackling has been an issue. Offensively, Cousins has possibly the most talented set of receivers in the Big Ten, led by senior Blair White, a former walk-on who has114 yards per game and has four touchdowns. Junior Mark Dell picked up 121 yards in his first game of the season against Notre Dame and sophomore B.J. Cunningham could be the most talented of the bunch. At running back, freshman Larry Caper is emerging as the go-to guy among a crop of young backs. Special teams remains a strong point for the team as senior Brett Swenson has connected on 5-of-6 field goals and junior punter Aaron Bates has averaged 47.7 yards on 10 punts. Each game on MSU’s league schedule in largely winnable except for the season finale against Penn State, where the Spartans should be heavy underdogs.” — Matt BishopNo. 4 Michigan (3-0)The Michigan Daily prediction — Third place. “At the beginning of the season, I probably would have told you Michigan would easily fall to the bottom half of the Big Ten, especially with a freshman quarterback, plenty of questions of defense and a coach under severe scrutiny after a series of allegations about NCAA practice-time violations.Oh, how things can change in three short weeks. Behind a surprisingly strong offensive line, the Wolverines have racked up more than 800 rushing yards, the third most in the nation. With running backs Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, Michael Shaw and shifty quarterbacks Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, no one has even come close to slowly down the potent Michigan ground game.And, as the myriad ESPN clips have shown time and time again, Forcier is playing like a veteran and shows an uncanny ability to improvise and make things happen. I’d like to see him play in a hostile environment before I crown him as the savior of the Rich Rodriguez era, but he definitely proved he can play under pressure when he led the Wolverines down the field to beat Notre Dame in the final minute.Add the fact that most supposed top-half Big Ten teams — Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin — have all looked weak against inferior nonconference opponents, this might be the year Michigan can reassert itself in the conference race.” — Andy ReidNo. 3 — Iowa (3-0)The Daily Iowan prediction — Third place. “Iowa’s taxing Big Ten road schedule has been well-documented. With games at Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, many preseason prognosticators have been justifiably cautious when hawking the Hawkeyes as potential conference title contenders. But with a 3-0 overall record heading into Saturday’s Big Ten-opener against the Nittany Lions and ample talent flanking every side of the ball, Iowa should finish as the third-best team in the league. But the Hawkeyes have more than a snowman’s chance of winning its first conference championship since 2004. Iowa may not have an all-American running back in the backfield or a game-tested, fan-approved sophomore backup. But freshmen Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher aren’t a pair of ramshackle wannabes. Plus, the Hawkeyes’ receiving corps runs as deep as the Iowa River with six athletic wide outs — five without junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who led Iowa receivers in 2008 with 638 yards on 44 catches. But better still, junior Ricky Stanzi is the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback. No more intra-squad bickering. No more spectator speculation. No more game-day switches. Stanzi is Iowa’s man under center this season — a luxury Hawkeye Nation hasn’t enjoyed since the glory years of Drew Tate, the fiery Texan who won the 2005 Capital One Bowl with one legendary heave. On defense, there is even more to chirp about. Even without graduated leaders Mitch King and Matt Kroul along the defensive line, juniors Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard have helped limit opponents to 422 rushing yards through three games. And defensive backs Amari Spievey, Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood, in addition to linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, make up a frightening backfield — scarier than ‘Sorority Row’ and ‘Jennifer’s Body’ combined.Seriously, Iowa is a team to tweet home about.” — Ryan YoungNo. 2 — Ohio State (2-1)The Lantern prediction — First place. “Ohio State’s trek toward a fifth consecutive Big Ten title contains very few roadblocks. The reemergence of Michigan makes the annual season finale against the Wolverines less of a given. But OSU has knocked off its rivals from up north in five straight meetings. The real test for the Buckeyes comes Nov. 7 at Penn State. The Nittany Lions escaped The Horseshoe with a 13-6 victory last year, and OSU will likely need revenge in State College to capture a fifth-straight conference championship. The progression of dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor will determine how the team fares. He suffered through the proverbial sophomore slump at the start of the year, struggling mightily in the letdown against Southern Cal. If he improves his decision-making and coach Jim Tressel loosens his sweater vest and opens up the offense, another Big Ten championship could be in the Buckeyes’ plans in ’09.” — Zack MeiselNo. 1 — Penn State (3-0)The Daily Collegian prediction — Second place. “Penn State has more star power than any other team in the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, two of those stars, outside linebackers Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman, could not escape nonconference play unscathed and their statuses for the first Big Ten game remain up in the air. Playing three pitiful opponents to open the season makes it difficult to gauge Penn State’s progress thus far, leaving uncertainties surrounding its two preseason question marks: the offensive line and the secondary. Most great Big Ten teams have relied on strong play up front, and with no proven backup behind returning first team All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark, the Nittany Lions need their line to step up and protect their signal-caller. The general line of thinking is a team can get by with a mediocre secondary in this run-heavy conference, so that could alleviate the burden on Penn State’s four new starters in the defensive backfield. But this team does have many of its leaders back from last year’s Big Ten championship team. Clark is the best quarterback in the league and Evan Royster is the best returning running back in the league. On top of that, Jared Odrick might just be the best defensive tackle in the league and, when healthy, Linebacker U is, well, Linebacker U. It’s that veteran leadership that will keep this team with many holes from falling out of the Big Ten’s elite. Those question marks, however, will prevent Penn State from repeating as Big Ten champs.” — Matt Fortuna
In college football, the next game is always the biggest one on your schedule, especially at this time of year.That means this week’s critical game for the Badgers takes place at Ryan Field, the home of the always dangerous Northwestern Wildcats. You see, Northwestern has had a history of giving UW trouble, and those purple jerseys always seem to find a way to pull off an upset (Iowa knows a thing or two about that).With a win, the Wildcats would leap over the Badgers in the standings, making this game crucial for both teams’ future bowl destinations. UW is still hanging on to a slim chance at a BCS at-large berth, and with a little help from Michigan, UW could earn a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 1999.But while this game obviously has an impact on the way the 2009 season ends for the Badgers, it also presents an opportunity for three individuals to make a stronger case for some postseason accolades.It might sound crazy, but UW ought to claim the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year awards. How could a team that will most likely finish as the fourth best team in the conference win so many awards?Allow me to explain.The first one, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, is really a no-brainer. It has to be John Clay. Look around the Big Ten and find someone more deserving of the award.Penn State’s Daryll Clark has had his struggles this season, the Buckeyes’ Terrelle Pryor doesn’t have the statistics to win the award, and while Iowa’s two wide receivers, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt, have made spectacular plays all year long, they just don’t have the numbers deserving of the honor.Clay becomes the obvious choice by default. The bruising back has carried this potent Wisconsin offense, and at times he has looked nothing short of dominant. In a league that puts such an emphasis on running the football, Clay has become the Big Ten’s premier tailback, averaging more than 100 yards a game and leading the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns.Clay should run away with this award, but the Defensive Player of the Year honor isn’t so clear-cut.After watching Iowa and Ohio State battle, it was made incredibly obvious that those are the two best defensive teams in the conference, and as they say, defense wins championships (man that gets old). So a player from Iowa or Ohio State defense has to win the award, right?Not in this columnist’s opinion.If this were an award for defense of the year in the Big Ten, sure, I’d give it to Ohio State or Iowa. And if this were an award for defensive line of the year, I’d have to hand it over to the Buckeye D-line, which single-handedly won that game and a trip to the Rose Bowl in overtime for OSU.But this is an individual award, and it’s an award that should go to O’Brien Schofield.The Wisconsin senior captain has gotten a lot of praise in my columns in recent weeks, but it’s hard not to talk about the guy.The tackles-for-loss numbers are astonishing, the sacks speak for themselves, and the fact that he is the central leader of this improved run-defense (ranked No. 1 in the conference) is impossible to overlook.Now Iowa’s defensive end Adrian Clayborn and ball-hawking safety Tyler Sash have had tremendous seasons and you can’t overlook their accomplishments. Throw in Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman and Michigan State Linebacker Greg Jones (a tackling machine) who have led their respective units and this becomes a tough one to call.So this award is a true toss-up, and a number of players have made a strong case. I honestly could see any one of those players winning it, but if Schofield puts up another strong performance against the Wildcats, and if he can take the national lead in tackles for loss or make another game-changing play like he has all season, it will be hard to deny that Schofield has been the best defensive player in the conference from start to finish.Now lets move from Wisconsin’s senior leader, to the program’s promising freshman linebacker — Chris Borland.Borland, the true freshman from Kettering, Ohio, has got to be the Freshman of the Year award-winner in the Big Ten. The guy is a playmaker in every sense of the word. Forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, one-handed interceptions, blocked punts, kick returns (the best one by a Badger all season) — he’s done it all.Honestly, I bet Borland could play running back for the Badgers if he had too; heck he could even serve as a place kicker.“Probably to seal the deal I got to let him kick a field goal,” head coach Bret Bielema said to reporters on Monday.That would be cool to see, coach, but there is no need. Borland has earned the award with his relentless play at the linebacker position and on special teams all season long.Now, Iowa running back Adam Robinson would have made a strong push for the award had he stayed healthy, and Tate Forcier, well, let’s just say it takes more than a cocky attitude and a gunslinger mentality to win in this league.With another solid outing this weekend, Borland should cement himself as the conference’s most outstanding freshman.So there you have it, three of UW’s best players vying for three of the Big Ten’s highest honors.After tomorrow’s game we’ll see if the Badgers claim a piece of the Big Ten title, but with impressive showings, Clay, Schofield and Borland should each take home some hardware of their own.Max is a junior majoring in journalism. Think he forgot about someone who is more deserving than Clay, Schofield or Borland for their respective awards? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Twitter Google+ CINCINNATI — Everything seemed to fall into place for Syracuse in its 31-7 win over Cincinnati Saturday. There was Ryan Bartholomew in the end zone pouncing on an Adam Harris fumble for a touchdown to give SU a 14-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. And there was Derrell Smith’s interception of Chazz Anderson at the game’s most important moment in the third quarter, with the Bearcats down 17-7 but driving deep into SU territory. ‘It was shocking,’ Smith said. ‘It came right to my hands.’ With Anderson’s errant pass and Cincinnati’s first-half fumbles, the win may well have been handed to Syracuse by UC and its replacement quarterback Anderson. From the outset, beginning when the Big East’s best statistical quarterback in Zach Collaros failed to take the field, everything went SU’s way. And it all seemed to stem from Anderson, including the interception. Just like Syracuse did at the most crucial points in the game, Smith took the interception and ran to the win. Sixty yards on the way to an SU blowout.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Smith could only muster two words for Anderson after the game. Those words reflected the gift of a play for the linebacker. It also reflected the entire game for SU, as Anderson and the rest of the Bearcats had a hand in each of the Orange’s timely big plays. ‘Thank you,’ Smith said. Syracuse capitalized on the Bearcats’ miscues, much like it has in its surprising three road wins to open Big East play — something it hadn’t done since 2001 — in the win Saturday in front of 32,072 at Nippert Stadium. It was another pedestrian win for a team that has all of a sudden become the Big East’s road warriors. The Orange (6-2, 3-1 Big East) has won four away games for the first time since 1996. The win was cemented in three quarters of play during which the Orange made sure to capitalize on every gawk-worthy gaffe Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2 Big East) committed. The Bearcats turned the ball over three times in the game, and the Orange tallied 17 points off them. Anderson accounted for two, fumbling the ball once to Smith in the second quarter before throwing the pass right to him in the third quarter. But it really started with the initial gift-wrapped game-changer before either team took the field. The gift was handed to the SU defense when Collaros couldn’t play due to a lingering injury to his left knee. From there, SU ran away with every Bearcat blunder that sprung up in a clutch situation. On Saturday, the replacement wasn’t good enough. During the moments that mattered, the Bearcats’ usual starters weren’t much better. Thanks to two first-half fumbles, the Orange held possession for more than 17 minutes of the first 22 minutes of play. The 17 minutes yielded a quick 17 points for the Orange. The 17 points came with a strong performance from SU quarterback Ryan Nassib to start the game — completely different from the performance of Anderson. A week after arguably his worst performance of the season against West Virginia, Nassib wasn’t the reason why SU won the game, going 16-of-26 for only 125 yards and two touchdowns. But he resembled consistency and patience, as well as a concrete starting point. Something that was the last thing Cincinnati had with its quarterback position, as Anderson threw for just eight yards in the first quarter. ‘We took an approach where we really didn’t know who was going to be the quarterback,’ Smith said. Ultimately, Collaros couldn’t go. Because of it, Anderson gave the SU offense time off his blunders. And Nassib ran the offense with that time, completing his first seven passes. For Nassib and SU, it was just going with what was there — like they have all season. It came in the form of pocket-created patience for Nassib that yielded third-down conversions to tight end Nick Provo and wide receiver Alec Lemon. ‘I think today we did awesome,’ Nassib said. ‘When we got the ball in the red zone, we scored touchdowns today.’ And on the one play in which the Orange almost had an Anderson-like goal-line blunder — when Harris fumbled the ball in the end zone — Syracuse made sure to secure the win. The center of it all, Bartholomew ensured that SU took care of its would-be gaffe. ‘I was just blocking, blocking the play, and then I just see the ball,’ Bartholomew said. ‘And I know the whistle is going to blow, and I just see the ball, and it’s just like any play. You just fall on the ball.’ email@example.com Published on October 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm Comments
Published on January 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: firstname.lastname@example.org | @mark_cooperjr Comments Jim Boeheim frantically moved his hands and arms, calling for a timeout. Baye Keita was trapped by two defenders in a two-point game late.Keita stayed strong with the ball, and the Syracuse center was fouled by Marquette forward Jae Crowder before the SU head coach was granted his timeout. And sure enough, the sophomore, battling a hip injury that kept him out of SU’s last game, coolly sunk both shots, extending the Syracuse lead to 61-57.‘Baye made the two shots of the year,’ Boeheim said. ‘He hasn’t been to the foul line in probably six months, and he goes and makes two free throws.’It hasn’t quite been six months — he got to the line Dec. 28 against Seton Hall — but the point was made. Keita is not an offensive juggernaut even when healthy. It was a question as to whether Keita would even play on Saturday after he was kept out of Wednesday’s game at Providence with a hip injury. But the center suited up and played a season-high 20 minutes in Syracuse’s 73-66 win over Marquette.With starting center Fab Melo in foul trouble throughout the game, Keita’s ability to get on the court was paramount.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘For him to be able to come back and play 20 minutes was crucial for us,’ SU guard Scoop Jardine said. ‘He gave us everything he’s got, and that’s the type of kid he is.’The question of whether Keita would play was answered promptly when he hustled to the scorer’s table less than two minutes into the game. Melo picked up two quick fouls, but his backup was healthy enough to fill in the middle of the Orange’s 2-3 zone.Keita was effective in different ways than Melo. While the starter took four charges, Keita put forth a decent all-around game: four points, five rebounds, two blocks.‘I’m feeling good now, I’m feeling good,’ Keita said. ‘My hip was bruised last game, so I’m just getting back.’Without Keita against Providence, freshman forward Rakeem Christmas was forced to eat minutes as Syracuse’s center. Against Marquette, Christmas played about two minutes in the middle early in the second half, but for the most part, Melo and Keita spelled each other.Keita received crunch-time minutes, too. And that’s when he had the opportunity to knock down the big free throws. After he put SU up four with 4:34 to play, Marquette didn’t grow closer.‘I’m going to make them,’ Keita said of his big shots. ‘Every time I step on the line, my mind is like I’m going to make them.Triche stays hot from outside during 1st-half runBrandon Triche wasted little time picking up where he left off.The Syracuse guard’s hot shooting from 3-point range continued for the second straight game. After Rakeem Christmas won the opening tip for Syracuse, Triche knocked down a triple from the left wing on the Orange’s first possession.The junior made three in a row against Providence on Wednesday to help Syracuse gain a second-half advantage. This time, he did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 13 of his 16 points as the Orange flexed its top-ranked muscles against Marquette. He was a leader on Saturday, knocking down four more treys and asserting himself defensively as well.‘He’s making shots, that’s what he’s doing,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘He’s aggressive offensively, he’s looking to score.’More often than not, Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters have knocked down the big shots or made the key plays in Syracuse’s 17-0 start. But since entering Big East play, Triche has become a player to look to as well.Joseph came up with a steal early in the first half and tossed the ball upcourt to Triche on the fast break. The guard rose to the hoop and finished with a pretty reverse layup, putting Syracuse ahead 14-11.Later in the first half, he delivered a viciously clever pump fake so good that Marquette guard Todd Mayo flew past him and out of bounds. His defender out of the picture, Triche buried the 3 from the right corner to extend SU’s lead to 31-12.Yet Triche’s personal performance turned out to tell the story of Syracuse’s overall game. It was a tale of two halves. He scored just three points coming out of the locker room after the break, and they came early in the second half on his fourth trey.Triche said Syracuse’s difficulties and lapses defensively affected the team’s offensive play, too.‘I think when the team starts coming back we kind of look for one player to make a play,’ he said. ‘We’re not moving as much, pretty much playing together.’email@example.com Facebook Twitter Google+
Published on November 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm Contact David: firstname.lastname@example.org | @DBWilson2 George McDonald found himself surrounded in the corner of Syracuse’s press conference room in the underbelly of the Carrier Dome.This time, though, the reporters weren’t there to skewer him, but instead to ask about his consistent excellence and his brilliance on the Orange’s final drive where he mustered up the courage to make his ballsiest play call yet.“We’ve had it in our back pocket for a long time,” the offensive coordinator said, “and it just turned out at the right time.”A tight-end throwback that left Josh Parris with an open path to the end zone capped the finest day yet for SU’s eccentric mastermind of an offensive coordinator. Parris’ second touchdown of the day sent Syracuse to a 34-31 win over Boston College (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) and made the Orange (6-6, 4-4) bowl eligible in front of 37,406 in the Dome.Until SU clinched bowl eligibility on Saturday before the home crowd, many of the 37,406 in attendance were fed up with McDonald’s play calling. He contributed to blowing what many felt was a winnable game against Pittsburgh. The bowl game that had once seemed a certainty now hung on just one game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn Saturday, though, those same 37,406 witnessed an offensive clinic. Short passes and quarterback keepers contributed to Terrel Hunt’s best day since September. A balanced rushing attack set up deeper strikes down field. And every once in a while there was a play just crazy enough to work.Hunt hit safety Durell Eskridge with a pass down the right sideline in the final minutes of the first half to set up a 1-yard touchdown run for the quarterback. McDonald turned to Quinta Funderburk, previously a non-factor, and Jeremiah Kobena, a non-factor since Week 3, to play in key situations.But it was his final play that proved his mettle.“If we don’t get it,” McDonald said with a smirk, “you guys don’t like me.”He’d watched the possibility present itself. The right end kept bull rushing during Syracuse’s final drive, Parris said. He was leaving himself susceptible to just the play McDonald had up his sleeve.“We tried to use his strength against him,” Parris said.McDonald said his players have been clamoring for him to call it since they ran the same one to tackle Sean Hickey against Maryland. They’ve rehearsed it for the past six weeks and the last time they ran it in practice, Parris actually dropped the pass.But on Saturday, Parris snagged the ball out of the air and followed offensive linemen Rob Trudo and Michael Lasker into the end zone.“Everything was unbelievable,” Parris said. “The play calling was perfect. I didn’t think he was going to call the play. It was a great play call.”Parris was Hunt’s only option on that play. There was no extra safety valve — just a throw that would either get the Orange into a bowl game or end its season beneath the familiar Carrier Dome bubble.But the final drive was no gimmick, nor was any of Hunt’s in-control performance. The quarterback was confident to run for first downs and make throws short of the end zone even as time was winding down. For the first time in months, he found a rhythm in the pocket.The short throws that dominated Syracuse’s opening drive opened the door for longer ones — gambles that haven’t often worked out for Hunt this season. A 31-yard strike to Alvin Cornelius during the Orange’s second drive and a 32-yarder to Brisly Estime on its third moved Syracuse deep into Eagle territory.Hunt pushed the Orange into the red zone on five of SU’s first six drives as Syracuse built a 21-7 lead.“That was definitely my best game played ever,” Hunt said.He finished 29-of-43 with 270 yards and two touchdowns, and added 102 yards and another score on the ground.His lone blemish, though, nearly cost Syracuse its season. With 2:49 remaining and the Orange down one, Steele Divitto intercepted Hunt.But 41 seconds later, the ball was back in his hands. He made every throw McDonald asked and even some runs that he didn’t.The quarterback was excellent. The coordinator was brilliant. Head coach Scott Shafer didn’t have anything to say.“You’ve had them confused all day long,” Shafer told McDonald. “Keep going.”“And then as we went down the field he made a great call on that throwback. I thought that was an awesome call,” Shafer said, shaking his head in amazement. “Great call.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+