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Posted on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 5:02 p.m.

The necessity of Wisconsin's lopsided win, how Ryan Kerrigan compares to Brandon Graham, football at Wrigley Field and more

By Pete Bigelow

A lot of people across the country thought No. 6 Wisconsin ran up the score against Indiana in Saturday’s 83-20 game. Indiana coach Bill Lynch wasn’t among them.

“I didn’t have any problem,” he said Tuesday. “I think it’s our responsibility to stop them. We didn’t do a good job of that and we didn’t take care of the ball, and that’s on us.”

Case closed?

It’s not that simple. Because BCS rankings could play a part in determining which Big Ten team plays in the Rose Bowl should there be a tie atop the league standings, Wisconsin had reason to make the margin of victory as lopsided as possible.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said BCS standings and their role in potentially determining the conference representative played no part in his decisions Saturday - and they never will.

“People will raise an eyebrow to that after what we just did, but we had no intentions of that,” he said. “It was a 10-10 game, and it unfolded very quickly.”

Maybe consideration of the BCS didn’t play a part in the outcome, but should it? Yahoo! columnist Dan Wetzel, author of the best-selling book “Death to the BCS,” argues that playing in a flawed system, Wisconsin should have gone for 100 points.

“The smartest coaching move he could’ve made was purposefully dropping 83 points on Indiana and creating a wow-factor result,” Wetzel writes. “Otherwise, the game would’ve been otherwise ignored by national poll voters who may hold the Badgers’ Rose Bowl hopes in their distracted hands.”


Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan forces a fumble by Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier last Saturday.

Melanie Maxwell I

KERRIGAN CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY For a defensive lineman, football doesn’t get much better than the four-sack, two-forced fumbles performance Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan enjoyed against a respectable Michigan offensive line last week.

He ranks second in the country with 11 ½ sacks, behind Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who has 13 ½. Kerrigan’s 14 career forced fumbles ties the NCAA mark held by three players.

“He’s one of the premier players in the country, not just our conference,” Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio said Tuesday.

Tuesday seemed like the unofficial start date of the Boilermakers’ campaign to place Kerrigan on the first-team all-America squad and procure votes for his Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidacy.

One obstacle for Kerrigan might be the subpar season that Purdue (4-6 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) has endured. Good players on bad teams often get overlooked.

Just ask Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, who was a second-team All-American in 2009 on a 5-7 team -- then drafted 13th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Draft.

“Even though we don’t have a winning record, we’ve had a chance to win some games and a lot of it has to do with Ryan Kerrigan’s performance on defense,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said.

“He’s kept our football team alive in games against top-level competition. That speaks volumes, more so than being a good player on a great team.”

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, whose team Kerrigan just victimized, was more circumspect in his evaluation. Asked if Kerrigan should be the conference’s defensive player of the year, he said he still needed to see Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward.

“Kerrigan is certainly all-Big Ten and probably all-American as well,” Rodriguez said.


Wrigley Field is lined for Saturday's football game between Northwestern and Illinois.

AP Photo

NEUTRAL-SITE WEEKEND As a kid growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald would visit his dad downtown and then take the L to Wrigley Field for an occasional Cubs game.

As a college student , he worked security on a rooftop adjacent to the stadium for a summer, and watched approximately 40 baseball games.

Now, as Northwestern’s football coach, Fitzgerald will coach on the sidelines Saturday at Wrigley Field. The venue will host the Wildcats’ annual rivalry game against Illinois, an event two years in the making.

“It’s just icing on the cake for rivalry,” Fitzgerald said.

Limited space between the ivy-covered brick and the end zone was a concern when officials first scheduled the game, but Illinois coach Ron Zook said that worry has been alleviated.

“They’ve got it padded up pretty good,” he said. “I jokingly told the wide receivers that they’ll be ready for the Arena League. … It’s tight, but I thought there’s a lot of fields that have tight spots.”

It’s not the only neutral-site conference game this weekend: Indiana and Penn State will play at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

“We’ve always recruited down there,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “We’re not as successful as we used to be because Virginia Tech has become strong and Virginia is working at it and Maryland, what have you. … It’s a good sports town.”

Still, Fitzgerald thinks the Northwestern-Illinois game (3:30 p.m., ESPNU) is the marquee location.

“It’s a bowl game here in Chicago, and no offense to you in other parts of the country, but this is the best sports town in the world,” he said.

NEUTRAL SITES II Neutral-site games within Big Ten play are relatively infrequent, much less two on one weekend. Since 1990, only three conference games have been played at neutral sites.

The most recent came one decade ago when the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions met on Oct. 28, 2000 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

The other two came nearly 20 years ago. Michigan State played Wisconsin in Tokyo, Japan on Dec. 4, 1993 and Northwestern faced Ohio State in Cleveland on Oct. 19, 1991.

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Thu, Nov 18, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

That Illinois score was a little payback for UoI firing Moeller from the job the year before.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 8:20 p.m.

Thank Rich. That's it, Steve Smith... at the Illinois game. Yes, I intend to participate on Saturday. Hoping for a Michigan victory, or at least a decent showing.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 8:04 p.m.

Thanks Ed for the reminder. I was at the Northwestern and Navy games. Northwestern was in the cold and rain - and we still scored all of those points with a 3 yard and a cloud of dust offense. I remember the Illinois game well - Mich was down 21-0 in the first quarter with Illinois being led by it's West Coast offense. I think it was Jim Harbaugh who led Bo's slow and outmoded team to a 70 point finish!

3 And Out

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.

Dewayne and Edward, thanks for the info...I remember the Ill game and had heard the Navy score it was a bit before my time but I have seen footage of several 60+ games including a beat down of Iowa in 71 which is on youtube at:

3 And Out

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

Jacob! Thanks for posting that link about the anniversary of Bo's passing. Yes, AA should do a story on this.... I remember that day well, I was back in Michigan visiting some friends and planning to watch the OSU game the next day... and was driving to lunch on Friday when I turned on the radio and heard the news. I pulled over and started crying and I dont know why but Bo's sudden passing affected me. At lunch in the restaurant, ESPN and all the other major stations were covering the story live and paying tribute to Bo...that was nice to see, he was a luminary figure in College Football and is still missed. RIP Bo Schembechler.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 6:03 p.m.

Just thought of something, say Whiskey beats us by 28 points, does Ohio then feel the need to beat us by more? I know no one would actually come out and say so, but michigan football may just be walking into the worst 2 weeks of the RR Era. Whisky will feel the need to score as many points as possible, and Ohio who is behind in the rankings will have to beat that mark. Ooh god, i think im gonna throw up.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

If the Rose Bowl were on the line, I would hope that my coach ran up the score. I do not think that is what happened last week with Wisc but either way its good for Wisc.

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

C'mon folks! Big Bielema ran up the score. It was classless, and he's a jerk. Can we get on with it now. He was only trying to pump up his team in the national rankings. If it were RR running up the score, everyone would be attacking him.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

@Edward...Yes, those are the games that I referred to in my comment, that are not 70+ and were not routine. Are you indicating that those would be considered running up the score? If so, I'm okay with that. I wish Lloyd would've run it up, when he had the opportunity. Unfortunely, he had that same "let's not hurt anyone's feelings" mindset and I'm sure that it cost him votes, snaps (which leads to more player experience and confidence) and ultimately, games.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

@3andout...just a little fact checking for you. Bo's teams NEVER scored 70+. They scored 70 exactly twice in his twenty year career, 69 once. Not to take anything away from his record, because it is impressive, several 50ish to nothing results. I'm just sayin, I would consider 'routinely' to be a little more often than never.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

If ann arbor dot com had the ability for users to edit posts, I wouldn't have to post twice to correct: "If you don't want to be some other team's practice squad then be prepared and play." Sorry, that typo made me cringe, couldn't leave it. :)


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

Running up the score? What a ridiculous statement. This is Division 1 football, not Pop Warner. There is no reason for ANY team to 'let up' when they get a lead. I like the coaches that are looking around the bench and saying, "Hey, who hasn't scored yet?". Seriously, give me a break with all of this crying. The schools are in the same conference, if they can't stop them, that's their fault. They can use it as a training tool or motivation or whatever. Think about it, they're running up the score, what are they supposed to do? Play less hard? Only run? Only Pass (considering how well they did running)? Take a knee? And what does the other team do then, play all out? Try to make it look respectable? And when does all of this pretend football start? The 4th quarter? If that's the case, why not just institute a mercy rule? Call it after three quarters if one team is up by X number of points? You might as well, if you are already expecting one team to just pretend to play or play less or whatever. Please, this whole topic is a joke. If you don't want to be some other team's practice squad than be prepared and play. Otherwise, man up and take your beating.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

Pass this on to your friends. Since there is nothing on this site about the anniversary of BO passing away.

3 And Out

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

PS: Bo's teams used to routinely drop 70+ on the little sisters in the Big one accused him of running up the score, his team was just that much better.

3 And Out

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 7:35 a.m.

Wisky had their backups in. It is not their fault that IU could not stop them. You dont tell your guys to back off. Bill Lynch even said that his guys should have stopped them but didnt. Bill Lynch doesnt throw his gum over it...neither do I. Good on Wisc. for putting a classic beat down on a Big Ten opponent.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 7:02 a.m.

The state of Michigan has a great high school playoff system. Take the top 32 teams, start the week after the regular season. The finals will still be around the same time. Forget about computers to pick who is in it because they only know numbers. Have a combination of coaches and fans vote. That would give 31 games to TV. There is no reason other bowls cannot take place outside the playoffs. We would have the best of both worlds.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 7:39 p.m.

Wisconsin is just trying to position themselves for the voters. It's sad that they have to do that. Why can't college football grow a pair and institute a playoff? An overwhelming majority of people are opposed to the current system. It's time!