2015 Darley Alcibiades Preview

2015 Darley Alcibiades Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks continues on Friday with the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland. A field of 11 two year old fillies will contest this race on Keeneland’s opening day.

The Darley Alcibiades will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track with a purse of $400,000. Not only is the race awarding points to the top four finishers to help determine the entrants in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks, but the winner also will be guaranteed a spot in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. That race will be at the end of October at Keeneland as well.

The winner will receive 10 points, second place will receive 4 points, third place will receive 2 points, and fourth place will receive 1 point.

Post time for the Darley Alcibiades is scheduled for 5:30 PM Eastern Time and is scheduled as the ninth of 10 races. Free past performances can be found here by going to Friday, October 2 and looking for race 9 at Keeneland. Entries are provided in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1GomoMario GutierrezDoug O'Neill3-1
2Marquee MissFlorent GerouxIngrid Mason15-1
3Put Da Blame On MeRobby AlbaradoDale Romans15-1
4Decked OutKeith DesormeauxKent Desormeaux20-1
5Ma Can Do ItPaco LopezDale Romans30-1
6Little CherieLuis SaezMike Maker12-1
7Dream DanceBrian Hernandez Jr.Neil Howard12-1
8Lookout SisterJohn VelazquezGraham Motion6-1
9Dothraki QueenCorey LanerieKen McPeek5-2
10Princess KennedyJoe JohnsonGary Hartlage30-1
11Just WickedJose OrtizSteve Asmussen3-1

1. Gomo – She debuted at Santa Anita in early June where she battled for the lead before weakening slightly to finish third by four lengths. That debut race was built on in her second start going a mile on the turf. She went gate-to-wire after setting pedestrian fractions, but she won by 5 1/4 lengths as the heavy 2-5 favorite. After a slight break, she appeared in the Grade 2 Sorrento at Del Mar going 6.5 furlongs on the main track. She had a slow break, but came wide and closed to finish second by 2 3/4 lengths to Pretty N Cool. Her latest race was the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar in early September. She sat off the pace in that race as well and had to go wide in the stretch. She closed stoutly, but could not hold on for place, as she finished third by 1 1/2 lengths. She should be able to protect her rail spot and get a good trip in this race.

2. Marquee Miss – She made her lone start in the Arlington-Washington Lassie and it was a winning one. She sat mid-pack early on and began to improve her position on the turn. As she straightened in the stretch, she was able to continue her run and she won by 3 lengths. It is hard to know if she will like dirt as much as she liked synthetic (her sire Cowboy Cal loved the synthetic tracks and turf), but she will be a solid price. She is worth a look underneath at a nice price.

3. Put Da Blame On Me – Like a few fillies in this race, she is exiting the Grade 2 Pocahontas. She did not run well that day after being close to the lead for the opening five furlongs. She showed speed in her first two races and and may try that again. She could improve in her second route race, but she has her work cut out for her.

4. Decked Out – She won her debut race by coming off the pace after a slow start and then shipped east to Belmont where she was second in the Astoria. Her last two races were at Saratoga in graded stakes competition in the Grade 3 Schuylerville (finished 3rd) and the Grade 2 Adirondack (finished 4th). She too exits the Pocahontas where she pressed the pace and did not have anything in the lane. This will be her second start going two turns, but like her foe to the inside, she has a long way to go to compete against the horses here.

5. Ma Can Do It – She debuted on August 29 at Ellis Park where she stalked the pace. She ended up going wide into the stretch and finished a well beaten second by 6 1/4 lengths. She then was sent to Kentucky Downs for a six furlong turf dash and once again she finished second. Like her debut, she stalked the pace and closed to get the place money by three lengths. This is a tough spot to make her stakes debut, her first route race, and try to break her maiden.

6. Little Cherie – She debuted here at Keeneland on April 15 with a closing move on the outside. She won by 1 1/2 lengths before some time off. She reappeared on August 1 at Mountaineer in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies. She tried to close again, but found some traffic trouble that affected her ability to kick it in and she finished fourth by six lengths. Her latest race was a non-winners of 2 lifetime allowance at Indiana Grand. She sat right behind the pacesetters and kicked past them in the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths. She is another making her two turn debut, but she has the pedigree and is the only filly to have a race (let alone win) over the Keeneland main track. Intriguing horse if she can stalk the pace once again.

7. Dream Dance – She started her career at Churchill Downs in June with a fifth place finish after a slow start. She rallied well in that race, but was no match to the top four. She broke better in her second race and was incredibly unlucky to win, losing by a nose. She got the job done in her third start with a stalking trip and three wide move in the stretch to win by a length and a half. She last raced in the Grade 2 Pocahontas where she rated behind the leaders. She was bothered in the stretch, but still closed to finish third by 2 lengths before a disqualification put her second. She should be better after her first start around two turns and is another longshot that deserves a serious look.

8. Lookout Sister – She made her debut at Delaware Park in mid-July going 5.5 furlongs on dirt. She was able to come off the pace and on the inside to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Her second race was the Grade 2 Adirondack where she tried to stalk the pace again. This time, she did not have any late kick and tired badly to finish fifth by 10 lengths. A return to Delaware in a restricted race put her back in the winner’s circle. She was ridden close to the pace and was able to pull away late to win by 1 3/4 lengths. This will be her first start around two turns, but her pedigree suggests there will be no issues. The only question is can she be good enough?

9. Dothraki Queen – He debut start was in July at Ellis Park going a mile on the good turf course. She broke slow and started her move on the far turn before engulfing the leaders in the stretch on her way to a 7 length victory. She then raced in the oft-referenced Grade 2 Pocahontas and made a similar move to her debut race. She went right around the field and was able to hold on for the win by a half-length. Both her races were impressive and she is deserving of being one of the favorites in this race.

10. Princess Kennedy – She made her first four starts in the Pacific Northwest at Emerald Downs. She was wide throughout in her debut finishing fourth in a field of 8 with a mild rally. Her second race saw her battle off two horses in her maiden breaking score by 2 1 /2 lengths. She stepped up into stakes company her next two starts. In the Angie C, she broke awkwardly, then steadied on the turn, and finished with a nice rally, but missed by a nose. She crushed in her latest race by 8 3/4 lengths with a nice trip behind the speed at 6.5 furlongs. Her race in the Grade 2 Pocahontas left a lot to be desired. She prompted the pace and weakened in the stretch to finish sixth by 6 1/4 lengths. She has to overcome a tough post and will probably need to be rated off the pace if she wants to contend.

11. Just Wicked – She ran 5 furlongs on turf in her debut, but missed by half a length after striking the front in the stretch. She moved to dirt in her second start at Saratoga where she broke on top and then found herself with a good trip behind the leaders. She won up the rail by 1 3/4 lengths while moving on to the Grade 2 Adirondack. She had another good trip off the pace set by Tonasah, but she had to battle down to the wire to finish her off and she won by 1 1/4 lengths. She tried to settle behind the pace in the Grade 2 Pocahontas and she looked like a threat on the far turn. However, she was never a threat in the stretch and finished fourth by 6 lengths as the 1-2 favorite. At 3-1, she is not very appealing given the fact she is wide and struggled in her lone route race.

Selections

This race has a nice mix of potential winning favorites and decent prices to round out the exotics, if not win outright. #9 Dothraki Queen has been impressive in both of her two career races and will probably be making a big move in the stretch once more. #7 Dream Dance finished second to Dothraki Queen last out, but she is a threat to finish in the exacta again with another stalking trip. #2 Marquee Miss has only raced once, but that was a victory in the ungraded Arlington-Washington Lassie at seven furlongs. She should like the distance. #1 Gomo cannot be left off the ticket as she will probably end up with a nice trip along the rail. #6 Little Cherie may also be worth putting on the trifecta or superfecta tickets at the 12-1 morning line price. If she takes to the distance (pedigree says yes) and gets a good stalking trip like her two victories, she could make some noise.

Top selection – #9 Dothraki Queen

2nd selection – #7 Dream Dance

3rd selection – #2 Marquee Miss

4th selection – #1 Gomo

Check back on Friday evening for a recap of the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades.

2015 Big Ten Week 4 Roundup

De'Veon Smith had a spectacular 60 yard touchdown run (pictured above). The defense for Michigan was also impressive. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)
De’Veon Smith had a spectacular 60 yard touchdown run (pictured above). The defense for Michigan was also impressive. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

2015 Big Ten Week 4 Roundup

The Big Ten had a full week of non-conference games before starting its conference schedule next week. It was a positive Saturday overall with the conference going 12-2, but, as always, there is room for improvement. Each game is broken down below.

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Result: Nebraska Win 36-28 (Saturday, September 26)

Nebraska improved to 2-2 on the season, but it was another poor performance from the defense that should cause concern in Lincoln. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong went 23 of 35 for 368 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was also effective in the running game with 63 yards and a touchdown on 7 carries.

Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp had another big game with 11 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Reilly had a few big plays, as he caught 3 passes for 112 yards. Terrell Newby had 76 yards on 18 carries to lead the Huskers in rushing. Andy Janovich was quietly effective with just five carries, but went for a total of 68 yards.

While the offense was good by racking up 610 yards, it was not very effective when it needed to be. Kicker Drew Brown attempted 7 field goals and connected on five. An 8 point win could have been a lot more comfortable had they converted two or three of those field goals into touchdowns. The offense went 4 of 13 on third down.

The defense largely held the Southern Miss running game in check with only 11 yards allowed, but gave up 447 yards through the air. Most worrisome is that the defense gave up three touchdown drives of at least 53 yards and 21 points. It has been a constant them for the Huskers that their defense is giving up quite a few points in the fourth quarter and we have already seen it cost them one game on the final play.

Nebraska faces Illinois next week on the road in their conference opener.

Kansas Jayhawks at Rutgers Scarlet Knight

Result: Rutgers Win 27-14 (Saturday, September 26)

Rutgers took care of business against Kansas, one of the weakest (if not the weakest) teams in all of FBS. That makes it hard to judge the performance, but a win is a win.

Chris Laviano had a decent game going 18 of 25 for 201 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The rushing game was very good for the Scarlet Knights as they rushed for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns on 58 carries as a team. Josh Hicks led the way with 113 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries while Robert Martin also broke the century mark at 102 yards on 17 carries. Overall, the offense was very effective with 513 yards, but converted on 8 of 12 third downs as well.

Defensively, it is hard to gauge this effort. They held Kansas to 342 yards of total offense including 64 yards on the ground. They forced just one turnover, but did not have a lot of trouble overall. Perhaps this will give them some confidence as they continue on in the Big Ten conference schedule.

The Scarlet Knights are off next week. Rutgers will have a stern test at home in two weeks against Michigan State.

#22 BYU Cougars at Michigan Wolverines

Result: Michigan Win 31-0 (Saturday, September 26)

Michigan looked incredible on Saturday against BYU, a team that had impressed the first three weeks. The defense was particularly impressive for the Wolverines.

Jake Rudock had a solid game with 14 of 25 passing for 194 yards and a touchdown. There were no interceptions or fumbles from him and he accounted for another two touchdowns on the ground (10 carries for 33 yards). De’Veon Smith had 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while his bruising 60 yard touchdown run was the highlight of the game. Smith did leave the game in the second half and did not return, but he is expected to be fine for next week’s game.

Amara Darboh had 4 catches for 57 yards and a touchdown including a wonderful one handed catch in the first half. Nine different players caught a pass for Michigan in a very equal passing game by Rudock.

The real story for Michigan was the defense. They allowed 105 total yards of offense to BYU with 55 through the air and 50 on the ground. BYU went 4 of 15 on third down and had just 8 first downs the entire game. The Wolverines did not allow them to get into a rhythm and this is what we expect from a Jim Harbaugh coached defense.

Michigan travels on the road next week to face Maryland.

Central Michigan Chippewas at #2 Michigan State Spartans

Result: Michigan State Win 30-10 (Saturday, September 26)

Michigan State looked far from the #2 team in the nation on Saturday against Central Michigan, but they got the job done.

Connor Cook went 11 of 19 for 143 yards and a touchdown, but the offense did not always look great. Madre London ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries while Gerald Holmes rushed for 22 yards and 2 touchdowns (both coming in the fourth quarter) on 4 carries.

The defense also had its issues against the Central Michigan offense. Cooper Rush threw for 285 yards and a touchdown on 26 of 39 passing. The trio of Jesse Kroll, Anthony Rice, and Corey Willis all had at least 5 catches and 57 yards.

Shilique Calhoun was disruptive for the Spartans on defense and also blocked a field goal. That was one of two blocked field goals by the Spartans. More worrisome for Michigan State is the possible losses of Jack Conklin, RJ Williamson, and Josiah Price.

Michigan State takes on Purdue next week at home in their Big Ten opener.

Bowling Green Falcons at Purdue Boilermakers

Result: Bowling Green Win 35-28 (Saturday, September 26)

Purdue slumped to 1-3 this year thanks to a loss to MAC opponent Bowling Green. It was not the worst loss for Purdue, as there was a good sign of improvement at quarterback.

David Blough was named the starter for this game and he did well. He went 29 of 39 for 340 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown, but the Boilermakers were not good rushing with just 77 yards on 38 carries as a team.

The defense was all or nothing in the first half. Bowling Green scored a touchdown, then lost a fumble, scored a second touchdown, was intercepted, and ended the first half with a third touchdown. Purdue was able to turn one of the turnovers into a touchdown, but missed a field goal on the other.

The defense was better overall in the second half, but still could not do enough to hang on for the win. They allowed 539 yards of offense and also allowed Bowling Green to convert 11 of 16 third downs.

It will be a tall task next week for Purdue with a road trip to Michigan State.

Indiana Hoosiers at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Result: Indiana Win 31-24 (Saturday, September 26)

Indiana got a road win to open the season 4-0 and sit just two games away from bowl eligibility. The defense was improved, but there is still plenty of concern on that side of the ball.

Nate Sudfeld had pedestrian numbers considering his normal output. He went 19 of 34 for 205 yards with 2 touchdowns. Jordan Howard had another big rushing game with 168 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. The offense converted 7 of 17 third down opportunities.

The defense played well early on for Indiana. The first three drives for Wake Forest yielded just one yard. The Hoosiers did allow 10 points in the second quarter, but held a 17-10 lead at the break. The defense played well again after halftime. A 20 yard pick six early in the fourth quarter by Kendall Hinton put the Hoosiers up 31-10. The concern is that Wake Forest scored two touchdowns on the next two drives. They did hold the Demon Deacons to 363 yards of offense including 99 on the ground and 4 of 18 on third down.

Indiana goes from facing Wake Forest on the road to Ohio State at home next weekend.

Maryland Terrapins at West Virginia Mountaineers

Result: West Virginia Win 45-6 (Saturday, September 26)

The worst Big Ten performance of the week belongs to Maryland. It was terrible performance, particularly from the quarterbacks.

Caleb Rowe went 10 of 27 for only 67 yards, no touchdowns, and 4 interceptions (!). Daxx Garman came in and threw for 86 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Brandon Ross did well to pick up 130 yards on 15 carries, but he was the lone bright spot in a dismal offense.

The defense struggled to put up any resistance to the West Virginia offense. The Mountaineers put up 601 yards of offense and it was nearly even with 297 through the air and 304 on the ground.

Maryland may find themselves struggling to get offense going again next week. They face Michigan at home, a team that has been solid on the defensive side of the ball.

North Texas Mean Green at Iowa Hawkeyes

Result: Iowa Win 62-16 (Saturday, September 26)

Iowa completely crushed North Texas to finish their non-conference schedule 4-0. It was a complete domination by both sides of the ball for Iowa.

C.J. Beathard was deadly accurate and efficient. He went 18 of 21 for 278 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Jordan Canzeri had a field day running the ball as well. He had four rushing touchdowns to go along with 115 yards on 22 carries. Tevaun Smith had 4 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

The defense had only two turnovers, but both were interceptions returned for touchdowns. First, it was Josey Jewell for a 34 yard pick-six late in the third quarter. The second one came late in the game with Bo Bower taking a pick 88 yards to the house.

Big Ten play begins next week with one of the toughest games on their schedule. Iowa travels to play Wisconsin in Madison with the winner having an early inside track on the Big Ten West.

Ohio Bobcats at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Result: Minnesota Win 27-24 (Saturday, September 26)

For the second week in a row, Minnesota escaped at home against a MAC foe. This week, at least there was more scoring.

Mitch Leidner had a solid day going 22 of 32 for 264 yards with no touchdown or interceptions. He also ran for 22 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Rodney Smith had a solid day as well with 94 yards on 16 carries, but Shannon Brooks emerged with 10 carries for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns including the game winner late. The offense looked much better this week and they put up 468 yards of offense and had only one turnover.

In an odd twist, the defense did not play as well as we have seen. They certain were not terrible, but it was not as stout as they were in the first three games. They allowed 8 of 16 on third down conversions and also gave up 345 yards of offense. They allowed 10 points in the fourth quarter that made it way too uncomfortable for the Gopher faithful.

Another worry, at least late, was the special teams. A muffed punt by Cody Grilliot was recovered by Ohio and led to a touchdown. They also gave up a massive kick return with less than 30 seconds remaining to Ohio after they just took the lead.

Minnesota finished their non-conference slate at 3-1 and they will have a defensive battle next week against Northwestern on the road.

Western Michigan Broncos at #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Result: Ohio State Win 38-12 (Saturday, September 26)

Ohio State may have decided on a quarterback, but it still does not look like the Buckeyes we saw in 2014.

Cardale Jones went 19 of 33 for 288 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. His second half left a lot to be desired as he completed only 6 of 14 passes. Ezekiel Elliott, unsurprisingly, was good with 124 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Curtis Samuel had 2 carries for 55 yards including a 40 yard run for a touchdown just before the midway point of the fourth quarter. The offense still managed to put up 511 yards with 288 passing and 223 on the ground. They did go 8 of 13 on third downs, which is a big improvement over the 2 of 13 they managed against Northern Illinois last week.

The defense was very good for Ohio State. They did not allow Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell to get into a rhythm. He finished 18 of 33 for 169 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. That interception was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Adolphus Washington. The Buckeyes did allow Daniel Braverman to catch 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, but they clamped down in the second half.

Ohio State begins the defense of their Big Ten title next week on the road at Indiana.

San Diego State Aztecs at Penn State Nittany Lions

Result: Penn State Win 37-21 (Saturday, September 26)

Penn State relied on their running backs last week to get the offense going, but it was Christian Hackenberg that woke up the dormant offense this week. Hackenberg threw for 296 yards and 3 touchdowns on 21 of 35 passing.

Saeed Blackwell led the Nittany Lions with 4 catches for 101 yards while Chris Godwin had 5 receptions for 78 yards with a touchdown. The running game was dealt not one, but two blows, thanks to injuries. Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch both left leaving Nick Scott and Mark Allen to try and pick up the slack. Allen ran for 5 yards on 5 carries, but did catch 2 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Scott had 6 carries for 9 yards. Those numbers will surely need to improve or Hackenberg will be primary target number one if Barkley and Lynch miss any time.

The defense was decent, but the highlight went to Austin Johnson. The defensive tackle ran (rumbled?) 71 yards for a fumble return touchdown that put Penn State up 34-21 early in the fourth quarter. The defense did only allow 242 yards of offense to SDSU including a poor 10 of 29 for 141 yards throwing.

The special teams is still a question mark after week four’s performance. They gave up a 100 yard kick return, fumbled a punt return that led to a touchdown, and also missed a field goal.

Unlike much of the Big Ten, they have not completed their non-conference schedule. Army visits next week in an early kickoff.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Illinois Fighting Illini

Result: Illinois Win 27-25 (Saturday, September 26)

Illinois bounced back from last week’s thrashing at North Carolina, but it was not easy by any means. They needed a last minute field goal from Taylor Zalewski and also needed a missed field goal from Middle Tennessee with seconds remaining to pull out the win.

Wes Lunt went 29 of 49 for 238 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. The large amount of incompletions are a bit worrisome, especially after he went 15 of 32 against North Carolina a week ago. Josh Ferguson ran for 83 yards on 20 carries while Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Geronimo Allison easily led the team in receiving with 10 catches for 128 yards. Desmond Cain was also involved in the passing game with 7 catches for 48 yards. Coming into the game, Cain had 8 catches for 53 yards on the year.

The defense gave up only 38 yards rushing to Middle Tennessee thanks largely to -30 yards rushing by the Middle Tennessee quarterback on sacks. They allowed 330 yards through the air as well as 3 touchdowns. The defense allowed 13 fourth quarter points as the Blue Raiders moved down the field with ease.

The special teams unit was good overall. There was a missed field goal, but a blocked punt subsequently allowed Illinois to build a 14-3 in the second quarter. Clayton Fejedelem fell on the ball in the end zone for the score.

Illinois enters Big Ten play 3-1 and they immediately get Nebraska next week at home. It is a potentially big game, as Illinois needs three wins to make bowl eligibility.

Ball State Cardinals at #17 Northwestern Wildcats

Result: Northwestern Win 24-19 (Saturday, September 26)

Northwestern was able to hang on against Ball State in a deceivingly good second half from the offense. The first half left a lot to be desired from the Wildcats, especially at the quarterback position.

Clayton Thorson looked like a freshman during the first half. He lost a fumble after a nice run, which led to a field goal for Ball State. He also threw an interception (led to a missed field goal), but his fumble late in the first half allowed Ball State to score a touchdown and take a 10-7 lead at halftime.

The second half was like a whole new ball game for the Wildcats on offense. Their first three drives resulted in 17 points and a 24-10 lead. Thorson finished the game going 18 of 31 for 256 yards with 3 touchdowns and the interception. He also ran for 45 yards on 9 carries. Justin Jackson had a big game rushing the ball with 184 yards on 33 carries. Dan Vitale easily had his best game of the year with 5 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns. His emergence really helped Thorson in the final 30 minutes.

The defense played solidly and it is worth noting that they kept the game close while the offense struggled in the first half. They recovered a fumble deep in their own territory and forced a total of four field goals from Ball State. Ball State missed two field goals, which would have been the difference.

Northwestern is likely to have a defensive battle next week at home in their Big Ten opener against Minnesota.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at #22 Wisconsin Badgers

Result: Wisconsin Win 28-0 (Saturday, September 26)

Wisconsin finally looked like the rushing team we all expect from them. And it was done without Corey Clement, who was the biggest piece of news this week. Clement will miss the next four to six weeks due to sports hernia surgery.

Taiwan Deal rushed for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries while Dare Ogunbowale had 15 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers rushed for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns as a team on 54 carries. Most importantly, the offense looked to have gotten their running game back, if only for this week. The offense nearly held a 2-1 advantage in time of possession, another good sign.

Joel Stave was not overly impressive, but he was smart with the ball and did not force unnecessary throws. He went 14 of 23 for 164 yards and a touchdown. In no surprise, Alex Erickson was his top target with 9 catches for 87 yards. Austin Traylor had 2 catches for 23 yards and a touchdown and is quietly becoming a big red zone target for Stave.

The defense did not make any big plays, but they did not allow any type of rhythm for the Hawaii offense. Hawaii’s longest drive was 60 yards, but the defense held firm on fourth and three at the Wisconsin 33. Another drive got as close to the Wisconsin 1 yard line, but a series of penalties by Hawaii resulted in a missed 49 yard field goal. In the last three games, Wisconsin has allowed a total of 3 points and has two shutouts.

Wisconsin faces Iowa at home in their Big Ten opener next week.

Check back next Sunday for a look at the Week 5 Big Ten Roundup. There will be plenty of Big Ten Conference action that is dissected.

Songbird Wires Chandelier Stakes

Songbird Wires Chandelier Stakes

The Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes was practically a walkover for Songbird. She went gate-to-wire easily thanks in part to a pre-race scratch of Pretty N Cool. That left Songbird as the lone speed and she did the rest.

Songbird broke right out of the starting gate and went to the lead. She was followed by Jade Princess in second, Halo Darlin in third, and Land Over Sea in fourth. Yodelsong and Vieja Luna sat together in fifth and sixth, respectively. Sheeza Milky Way was seventh early and Right There was last of eight after a slow break and she was also rank. It seemed as if Right There was going to be pulled up on the first turn, but she kept on running.

Songbird faced no pace pressure on the lead on the backstretch and into the far turn. Land Over Sea began to move up entering the far turn while Jade Princess was ridden hard to stay with her. The rest of the field was not a threat as they turned for home.

The lead began to dwindle for Songbird, but she had not been pushed. As they straightened for home, Songbird was sent to put an advantage on Land Over Sea and she pulled away for a 4 1/2 length victory. Land Over Sea finished second, but it was nearly 10 lengths back to Right There in third. It was almost another 6 lengths back to fourth place finisher Vieja Luna.

The remaining order of finish was Jade Princess, Halo Darlin, Sheeza Milky Way, and Yodelsong. The entire chart can be found here courtesy of Equibase.

Songbird ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.79. She was ridden by Mike Smith and is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. She went off as the 1-5 favorite, paid $2.40 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show.

Songbird also earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Oaks Points Leaderboard, which will determine the fillies that start in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. Land Over Sea earned four points, Right There received two points, and Vieja Luna received one point.

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks will continue next weekend. There will be one on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday across North America.

Nyquist Survives In FrontRunner

Nyquist Survives In FrontRunner

Nyquist had to survive a run from Swipe in the stretch, but also had to survive him after the Grade 1 FrontRunner in the form of an inquiry. He was successful in both, as he won his fourth straight race to being his career and also made it back-to-back Grade 1 victories.

Go Long went to the lead from the rail, but he was trailed closely by Nyquist and Mt Veeder. Blameitonthelaw was also close in fourth while further back was Swipe, Hollywood Don, Rare Candy, and On Fire was in last by 10 lengths.

Go Long continued to lead on the backstretch with Nyquist and Mt Veeder close in tow, but Blameitonthelaw and Swipe also started to get closer. Behind them were Hollywood Don and Rare Candy while On Fire continued to be well at the back of the field.

Nyquist went to the lead on the far turn along with Mt Veeder, as Go Long was clearly done. Swipe started to move up as well and took over the rail position entering the stretch. Nyquist was able to hold off Swipe, who really had no excuse for not passing the winner. Those two were well clear of Hollywood Don in third by 5 3/4 lengths.

The rest of the field in order of finish was Rare Candy, Blameitonthelaw, Mt Veeder, Go Long, and On Fire. The stewards inquired about the stretch run between Nyquist and Swipe, but determined there was nothing affecting the order of finish. A full chart can be found here via Equibase.

Nyquist is a two year colt by Uncle Mo out of the Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle. He was ridden Mario Gutierrez and trained by Doug O’Neill. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.89 and paid $3.00 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show.

Nyquist received 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard for his victory. Swipe received four points, Hollywood Don received 2 points, and Rare Candy earned 1 point.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues next weekend with three races. Two will be run on Saturday and one will take place on Sunday.

2015 FrontRunner Stakes Preview

2015 FrontRunner Stakes Preview

The Road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby makes its second stop on Saturday, September 26 at Santa Anita. The Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes will be front and center for the 2 year old males.

The FrontRunner Stakes will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main dirt track with a purse of $300,000. The winner will receive 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard while second, third, and fourth will receive 4 points, 2 points, and 1 point, respectively.

Post time is scheduled for 5:30 PM Eastern Time and the race is carded as the fifth race of a 11 races. Free past performances can be found here by going to Saturday, September 26 and race 5. The entires have been listed in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Go LongFernando PerezKeith Desormeaux20-1
2On FireGary StevensSimon Callaghan12-1
3BlameitonthelawTyler BazeJohn Sadler5-1
4NyquistMario GutierrezDoug O'Neill6-5
5Hollywood DonBrice BlancPeter Miller4-1
6Rare CandyJoseph TalamoDavid Hofmans15-1
7SwipeKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux5-1
8Mt VeederMartin GarciaBob Baffert6-1

1. Go Long – He started his career from the dreaded rail spot in his debut and had a decent effort. He showed speed and tired to finish fourth by 4 3/4 lengths. He went to the lead again in his second start and had plenty of company, but was able to pull away near the wire for a 3/4 length victory. In his last start, he went long, but on the grass at one mile in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. It was a dull effort where he sat well of the pace before passing tiring horses and finished sixth. The return to dirt will help, but he has to step up in a big way to contend in this spot.

2. On Fire – In his debut going 6 furlongs, he went to contend for the lead shortly after the break, but was no match for the top two. He did, however, hang on for third and lost by 5 1/4 lengths. He was given more distance in his second race going a mile. He had a wide trip for most of the race and prompted the pace three wide on the backstretch and far turn. He took the lead in the stretch, but had to hold on for the win by a half-length. The connections are appealing, but he too will have to run better in this spot to contend for the win honors.

3. Blameitonthelaw – He began his career at Del Mar going 5.5 furlongs where he got a wonderful trip behind the leaders. He was able to pull away in that one to win by 4 1/4 lengths before taking on Grade 1 competition in the Del Mar Futurity. In that race, he had a similar trip behind the leaders while wide. However, he was no match for the to two and he finished third by eight. Both of those horses he lost to return here (Nyquist and Swipe). He will have to get better in this spot, which he could with is pedigree and the blinkers going on. He has a good chance of hitting the board.

4. Nyquist – We arrive at the favorite for this race, a colt who has done little wrong. He won his debut in a game effort by a head before waiting for graded stakes competition at Del Mar. His second race was in the Grade 2 Best Pal where he improved dramatically with a 5 1/4 length win while pressing the pace. His latest race was the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity where he battled for the lead and then had a nice bid entering the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths. He has not raced at two turns, but being by Uncle Mo, it should not be an issue. He is the deserving favorite and is the one to beat.

5. Hollywood Don – He began his career going a mile on the turf, but had a slow start and then was wide for most of the running of the race. He made no impact on the race late, as he finished seventh by 4 1/4 lengths. He came back in his second start to go gate-to-wire in an impressive race where he set fast fractions early on and was tracked all the way around the turf course. His last race was the Del Mar Juvenile Turf at one mile where he employed a new winning tactic. He sat over four lengths off the lead in the first two calls, but made his move on the far turn. He went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths for his second victory in a row. He has not raced on dirt and clearly has an affinity for turf. He has a running style that will help, but he will need to be more competitive to have a chance to win though he could hit the board.

6. Rare Candy – He started his career in New York with a five furlong turf dash at Belmont. He took a while to get going, but closed determinedly to finish only three quarters of a length back in second. He was then shipped to California where he was sent a mile on the turf in another maiden race. He went gate-to-wire that day in a game performance where he won by 2 1/4 lengths after setting comfortable fractions. He then took on stakes competition in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf, but was outrun early. He made a solid rally in the lane and just missed third place. He has had some really good works on the Santa Anita main track, but the question is can he be good enough?

7. Swipe – He is the most experienced horse in this race with five starts. His first start was in May at 4.5 furlongs where he broke poorly, but rallied strongly to finish second by 2 1/4 lengths. His second start was in the Tremont, but he could not rally again and finished third by 4 1/4 lengths. He broke his maiden in his third start in the Summer Juvenile Championship with a driving finish to win by a head. His next two starts were at Del Mar where he finished second both times to the favorite, Nyquist. He is out of Birdstone so the two turns is not an issue. He is a top candidate to round out the exacta.

8. Mt Veeder – He debuted at Del Mar going 5.5 furlongs where he dueled on the lead before pulling away to win by 2 1/4 lengths. He stepped up into stakes competition where he went gate-to-wire and won by 4 3/4 lengths. He has not raced beyond six furlongs, but he is by Ghostzapper so two turns should not be a big issue. He is probably going to try and wire the field again and has a solid chance here.

Selections

#4 Nyquist is the clear favorite here and is decisively the one to beat. He should be able to rate off the speed, which makes him incredibly dangerous, but he will be a short price. #8 Mt Veeder will be going to the lead and could be good enough to make this a very good race. #7 Swipe has been consistent in his career never missing the board, but has not beat Nyquist in the previous two races. #3 Blameitonthelaw is going both long and getting blinkers on, which could improve his chances while #5 Hollywood Don could take a liking to dirt though he will probably have short odds.

Top selection – #4 Nyquist

2nd selection – #8 Mt Veeder

3rd selection – #7 Swipe

4th selection – #3 Blameitonthelaw

A recap of the Grade 1 FrontRunner will be posted on Saturday so be sure to come back and check it out.

2015 Chandelier Stakes Preview

2015 Chandelier Stakes Preview

The second race on the long Road to the 2016 Kentucky Oaks will take place on Saturday, September 26. The Grade 1 Chandelier will be held for 2 year old fillies.

The Chandelier will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Santa Anita with a purse of $300,000. As part of the 2016 Kentucky Oaks prep schedule, the race will award points to the top four finishers that will help determine the starters for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks.

The winner will receive 10 points, second place will receive 4 points, third place will receive 2 points, and fourth place will receive 1 point.

Post time for the Chandelier is scheduled for 7 PM Eastern Time and is carded as the eight race on an eleven race program at Santa Anita. Free past performances can be found here by going to Saturday, September 26 and going to race 8 at Santa Anita. The entries have been provided in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Pretty N CoolMartin GarciaBob Baffert4-1
2Halo DarlinTyler BazeMike Puype12-1
3Vieja LunaJuan LeyvaGustavo Amaya15-1
4YodelsongFernando PerezMike Harrington20-1
5SongbirdMike SmithJerry Hollendorfer3-5
6Sheeza Milky WayRafael BejaranoPeter Eurton12-1
7Land Over SeaMario GutierrezDoug O'Neill9-2
8Jade PrincessVictor EspinozaBob Baffert9-2
9Right ThereKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux20-1

1. Pretty N Cool – She is the first of two fillies entered here for trainer Bob Baffert. She broke well in her debut, went to the lead, and put away her competition in the slop to win by 4 1/2 lengths going five furlongs. Next out, she faced the Grade 2 Sorrento field going 6.5 furlongs. She was rated that day off the speed, but the outcome was the same with a winning move on the turn to win by 2 3/4 lengths. She fought for the lead in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, but ultimately was second best by 5 1/4 lengths to Songbird, who also returns in this race. The stretch out to 8.5 furlongs should not be an issue, but she may find herself going head to head again with Songbird for much of this race. She is a major factor in this race.

2. Halo Darlin – She has only one start in her career and it was a nice performance. She faced fellow California maidens at Del Mar early in September. She broke well, sat off the pace in fifth while wide, and then came wide into the stretch. She was able to pull away that day in the stretch to win by five lengths. She will be moving way up in class and also has to tackle two turns for the first time in her career. She will be solid odds, but needs much more to win here.

3. Vieja Luna – She has made all her career starts in Florida at Gulfstream prior to this race. She debuted in the Cassidy Stakes where she broke awkwardly and made a modest rally to grab fourth, but was beaten 11 lengths. She broke better in her second start, but was content to run in last early on before going very wide on the far turn. She was unable to sustain that rally as she finish third by five lengths. She finally broke her maiden in her third start at Gulfstream. She broke well again, sat much closer to the pace, made her move on the far turn, and took over in the stretch to win by 9 1/4 lengths in the slop. She will be trying a route distance and two turns for the first time as well as shipping to a new circuit. She will need a major boost in her running to have a chance in this race.

4. Yodelsong – In her debut at Del Mar on July 31, it appeared she wanted to be on the lead or pressing it, but she ended up getting the perfect trip behind the trio of dueling leaders. She went wide leaving the far turn and entering the stretch while pulling away to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Next up was the Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes at Del Mar on September 7 with far different results. She went a mile on the turf and got another good trip in the middle of the pack on the rail. However, she gave way on the far turn and finished eighth by 5 3/4 lengths. It is difficult to tell if she did not like the turf, the distance, or the competition and this spot is not much easier. A big effort is needed for her to contend.

5. Songbird – The clear and overwhelming favorite here began at Del Mar in a maiden special weight race. The rail did not cause her any trouble as she broke like a shot and ran away from the field to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Up next was the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and she had to fight with fellow entrant Pretty N Cool for much of that race. She was able to put her away and win by 5 1/4 lengths in the end. It appears that those two will battle once again on the front end and history favors her again in this race.

6. Sheeza Milky Way – She is the only maiden in this race. She began at Los Alamitos where she tried to stalk the pace three wide, but could not hang on for third as she finished fourth by two lengths in a five horse field. Her second start was on turf at a mile at Del Mar where she tried stalking the pace again. She had a decent rally in the stretch, but was no match for the top two. She finished third by 4 1/2 lengths, but was well clear of the rest of the field by 5 1/4 lengths to fourth. Her latest start was the Juvenile Fillies Turf and once again she tried a come from behind tactic. She was very wide entering the stretch, but once again could not close fast enough, finishing fourth by three lengths. It is hard to endorse her in this spot especially with the top two fillies holding a massive edge on her.

7. Land Over Sea – She debuted in the same race as Sheeza Milky Way at Los Alamitos. She too sat off the pace, made a nice move on the rail, and finished second by 1 3/4 lengths. Her second start came on the turf course at Del Mar where she sat in the middle of the pack off the pace and then exploded on the turn and into the stretch for a 3 3/4 lengths win. Her latest race was in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante back on dirt at 7 furlongs. It was another off the pace effort as she came very wide into the stretch, but could not pull in the top two. She finished third by six lengths. We know she can rate, likes the dirt, and distance, but she was well beaten by Songbird in the last. If she can get the top two to take each other out on the front end, she could make some noise.

8. Jade Princess – Her debut, simply put, was a disaster. She was bumped at the break on top of it being a slow break and then found herself near the rear of the field. She came out wide in the stretch, but was never a threat finishing fifth by 16 lengths. Her second start was the complete opposite. She broke much better, found herself wide for most of the running, but still up close to the leaders. She began move up on the far turn and pulled away from the field in the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths. If she can run off the pace again in this race, she has a solid chance to upset the top two horses.

9. Right There – She made her debut at Santa Anita in May with a solid run late to finish second by 3 1/2 lengths. The second race for her was even better in the Landaluce. She a bit slow, but made a great run on the turn and into the stretch to break her maiden by 4 3/4 lengths. Her last two races were the same with poor results. She broke slow both times, but could not produce a run in the stretch and finished fourth in the stretch. She should appreciate the two turns and could be better suited for this distance at a nice price. Interesting angles on this one despite the previous two poor performances.

Selections

This race will go through #5 Songbird, who is 2 for 2 in her career. She will have to contend with #1 Pretty N Cool on the front end, but the top choice here is #8 Jade Princess. She will be able to rate off the those two horses and go by them in the stretch. #5 Songbird has shown the ability to put away other speed horses including #1 Pretty N Cool. For fourth, #7 Land Over Sea could easily close for fourth while #9 Right There is a nice price play underneath in the exotics.

Top selection – #8 Jade Princess

2nd selection – #5 Songbird

3rd selection – #1 Pretty N Cool

4th selection – #9 Right There

Check back on Saturday night for a recap of the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes.

2015 Big Ten Week 3 Roundup

Northwestern had a big road win at Duke, but it was not all good for the Big Ten. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)
Northwestern had a big road win at Duke, but it was not all good for the Big Ten. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

2015 Big Ten Week 3 Roundup

The Big Ten opened the season with an 8-6 record in the first week of the season while the conference went 12-2 in the second week headlined by a massive win at home for Michigan State against Oregon. The Big Ten had its first conference game in week 3 with Penn State taking on Rutgers at home.

Illinois Fighting Illini at North Carolina Tar Heels

Result: North Carolina Win 48-14 (Saturday, September 19)

Illinois took a huge step up in competition from their first two games and it showed. They struggled in all phases of the game in a 48-14 blowout loss.

Wes Lunt struggled passing, as he connected on just 15 of 32 passes for 140 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The one bright spot was Josh Ferguson, who ran for 133 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

The defense was horrendous against Marquise Williams, who had 203 yards with 3 touchdowns and a pick on 17 of 24 passing. Williams also ran for 105 yards on 9 carries while Elijah Hood had 129 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Ryan Switzer led the Tar Heels on the special teams front with a nice 85 yard punt return for a touchdown and he also caught 3 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Illinois found out they will need to be far better to contend in the Big Ten West division. They have their final non-conference game next week at home against Middle Tennessee. They will have to fix their big issues in that game before the Big Ten conference schedule begins in October.

South Florida Bulls at Maryland Terrapins

Result: Maryland Win 35-17 (Saturday, September 19)

Maryland fell behind 7-0 early in the game, but they rebounded nicely to end the game on a 35-10 run. It was not always pretty, however, as Caleb Rowe struggled at times behind center. Rowe went 21 of 33 for 297 yards with 4 touchdowns, but also threw 3 interceptions. Two of those picks led to touchdowns for South Florida

Maryland lost running back Wes Brown early in the second quarter due to a targeting call, but Brandon Ross stepped up for 68 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The duo of Levern Jacobs (8 catches for 107 yards) and Taivon Jacobs (2 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown) led the Terps in receiving. Avery Edwards had 3 catches for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The defense looked better and the first touchdown was hardly their fault as the USF offense started at the Maryland four yard line. The Terps did struggle against the run as they allowed 240 yards and a touchdown on 50 carries. However, they allowed only 60 yards and a touchdown through the air to USF, which helped them win this game. Sean Davis picked off two passes for Maryland with his second setting up a touchdown for the offense.

Maryland looked better this week, but they are going to be tested again next week against rival West Virginia with the game in Morgantown.

UNLV Rebels at Michigan Wolverines

Result: Michigan Win 28-7 (Saturday, September 19)

The Wolverines improved to 2-1 on the season, but it was not pretty once again. Jake Rudock went a paltry 14 of 22 for 123 yards with a touchdown an interception. The interception did not lead to anything, but it was Rudock’s fifth of the season – the same amount he threw in all of 2014.

The Michigan running game was strong against UNLV with 39 rushes for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns as a team. Ty Isaac led the way with 114 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. The touchdown came on a nice 76 yard dash to the end zone. Jehu Chesson had one rush that resulted in a 36 yard touchdown while De’Veon Smith was held to 33 yards on 13 carries. Smith did catch a five yard touchdown as well.

The Michigan defense was stout again this week giving up 235 total yards with 143 through the air and 92 on the ground. The defense allowed only 88 yards of offense in the first half while Channing Stribling’s interception on the opening drive allowed the offense to get a head start early on.

Michigan has played well at home the last two weeks and the defense looks particularly stingy. They will have to be really good next week with BYU coming into the Big House.

Air Force Falcons at #4 Michigan State Spartans

Result: Michigan State Win 35-21  (Saturday, September 19)

Michigan State played well in the first half to race out to a big lead over Air Force, but there were some concerns out of this game. One of them was not Connor Cook.

Cook threw for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns on 15 of 23 passing and found a new favorite target in Aaron Burbridge, who had 8 catches for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns. R.J. Shelton had a solid game with 5 catches for 68 yards as well. The Spartans did not run the ball well at all with just 77 yards on 42 carries as a team. Madre London was the top rusher with 40 yards on 17 carries.

The defense gave up a lot of yards on the ground to Air Force, which is not really a surprise given the triple option offense they run. What was shocking was the amount of passing yards they gave up. Karson Roberts only went 6 of 9, but had 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Several of those completions showed wide open Air Force receivers including two passes to Jalen Robinette, who had no one around him. Considering Robinette is the biggest passing threat for Air Force, that is inexcusable for the Spartans.

The defense did play well for most of the first half as they built a 28-7 lead at the break. Kicker Michael Geiger had a kick blocked late in the second quarter on a low attempt.

Michigan State stays home for their final non-conference game with Central Michigan visiting.

Kent State Golden Flashes at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Result: Minnesota Win 10-7 (Saturday, September 19)

Minnesota struggled mightily against Kent State in a sloppy 10-7 win. Both teams struggled on offense (as if the score was not an indication) with neither team have more than 300 yards of total offense.

Mitch Leidner went 17 of 27 for 184 yards with a touchdown, but also threw 2 interceptions. Both of those picks were in the first half and did not result in points for Kent State. Rodney Smith had a hard time getting big chunks of yards as he finished with 73 yards on 30 carries.

The defense did very well in this game giving up only 142 yards with 63 through the air and 79 on the ground. Incredibly, the Kent State offense did not run a play in Minnesota territory until the fourth quarter.

One Kent State player who deserves a massive shout out is Demetrius Monday. Monday had both of Leidner’s interceptions and also returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown. He played incredible during this game.

Minnesota faces Ohio next week at home in their final non-conference game.

#23 Northwestern Wildcats at Duke Blue Devils

Result: Northwestern Win 19-10 (Saturday, September 19)

It was an ugly win for Northwestern on the road at Duke, but all wins count the same. A massive second half from the offense and special teams spurred them to a 3-0 record. The Northwestern offense had only 57 yards on their first nine drives, which encompassed the entire first half. Their first drive of the second half resulted in 53 yards and a field goal.

Clayton Thorson struggled at times and he finished the game going 9 of 23 with just 70 yards through the air. He also had 2 interceptions, both of which were poor decisions with multiple defenders in the area. Justin Jackson ran for 120 yards on 35 carries while Warren Long’s 55 yard touchdown run helped put the Wildcats up for good.

The defense gave up a touchdown early in the first quarter after an interception by Thorson, but they allowed just a field goal the rest of the game. Defensive end Dean Lowry had a big game and picked off a pass with Duke in the red zone late in the second quarter to keep it a 7-0 game. The defense allowed 327 yards of offense to Duke, but did not allow them to get into a rhythm at all during the game.

The special teams were also huge as Solomon Vault took the opening kick of the second half 98 yards to the house. They missed the extra point on the ensuing try, but Jack Mitchell was also two-for-two on his field goal attempts.

The Wildcats continue to be stifling on defense and will face Ball State at home next week.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Miami Hurricanes

Result: Miami Win 36-33 in 1 overtime (Saturday, September 19)

This was an odd game. Miami looked well on their way to a big win as they led 33-10 early in the fourth quarter. Nebraska made a furious rally to tie the game at 33 and send the game into overtime. However, Nebraska fell short in overtime as they lost 36-33.

Nebraska could not get anything going in the first half as they tallied 137 yards of offense and only three points. Tommy Armstrong had another good game with 309 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions on 21 of 45 passing. He also ran for 49 yards on 11 carries while Terrell Newby had 82 yards on 14 rushes. Armstrong was able to lead Nebraska to 23 fourth quarter points including the game tying drive with an 8 yard pass to Stanley Morgan (had 4 catches for 78 yards and a score) and the 2 point conversion to Jordan Westerkamp (5 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown).

The defense looked lost early on as they were blitzed in the first quarter with 17 points allowed on Miami’s first three drives. They were better in the fourth quarter as the team made its comeback. The defense allowed 511 yards in this game, but held the Hurricanes to 3 of 14 on third down.

Nebraska will have to find a way to bounce back off a second devastating loss this year and they have Southern Miss next week at home to help.

Northern Illinois Huskies at #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Result: Ohio State Win 20-13 (Saturday, September 19)

Ohio State played an ugly game against Northern Illinois, but survived in their bid to win a second straight national title.

The quarterback play was uneven once again with Cardale Jones going 4 of 9 for 36 yards, but also had two interceptions. He was replaced by JT Barrett, who did better, but was also not overwhelming. He went 11 of 19 for 97 yards with 1 touchdown and an interception. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 108 yards on 23 carries while Michael Thomas was the top wide receiver with 3 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. The Buckeyes put up only 298 yards of offense while they committed five turnovers that led to 10 NIU points. It was an incredibly poor performance and the Buckeyes also went only 2 of 13 on third down.

The defense was strong in this game allowing only 190 yards of offense to NIU with 80 through the air and 110 on the ground. Darron Lee had a 41 yard pick six that ultimately proved to be the game winning score. The defensive line was disruptive as well during the game as the defense bailed out a putrid offensive performance.

Sometimes a team just has to win and survive and that appears to be the case for Ohio State. They have another MAC team next week at home again in Western Michigan.

Virginia Tech Hokies at Purdue Boilermakers

Result: Virginia Tech Win 51-24 (Saturday, September 19)

Purdue had a massive test at home against Virginia Tech and were clearly not up to par, but did show some flashes on offense.

Austin Appleby struggled going 9 of 28 for 110 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Appleby also ran 13 times for only 11 yards, but had a rushing touchdown. Markell Jones had a big day thanks to his 60 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The offense did struggle against the Virginia Tech defense as they only converted 2 of 15 third down conversions and had three turnovers with the fumble being returned for a touchdown by Virginia Tech.

The defense struggled as well giving up 471 yards of offense and allowing 7 of 16 third down conversions to Virginia Tech. The defense did get a 90 yard fumble return for a touchdown via Danny Ezechukwu that gave Purdue a 14-10 lead. The special teams unit had a punt blocked and it was returned for a touchdown by Virginia Tech.

Purdue has another stiff test next week at home against Bowling Green. It will test their defense again with the high-powered Falcons offense.

Troy Trojans at #24 Wisconsin Badgers

Result: Wisconsin Win 28-3 (Saturday, September 19)

The Wisconsin Badgers were without Corey Clement for a second straight game due to a groin injury, but they had little trouble defeating Troy. The score was not flashy, but they were dominant particularly on defense.

Joel Stave was very efficient going 13 of 17 for 202 yards and a touchdown while also having a rushing touchdown from 4 yards out. Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale split carries in the absence of Clement. Deal led the team with 84 yards on 16 carries while Ogunbowale had 75 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Tanner McEvoy saw some action at quarterback in the wildcat and he had a nice 32 yard touchdown run to finish the day with 41 yards on 2 carries.

Alex Erickson was the leading receiver with 3 catches for 87 yards while Robert Wheelwright had 2 grabs for 50 yards. Tight End Austin Traylor had 2 catches for 39 yards and a touchdown with both of those catches coming late in the fourth quarter. The offense will need to work on the 3 for 10 on third down conversions, but there was more signs of life on the offensive line and in the running game.

The defense was stout with only 255 yards of offense given up. They held Troy to 81 yards rushing on 33 carries and 174 yards passing through the air. The defense forced only one turnover and allowed 7 of 16 on third down conversions. Overall, the defense was very good in this game.

Wisconsin has Hawaii next week at home in their final non-conference tune up.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Indiana Hoosiers

Result: Indiana Win 38-35 (Saturday, September 19)

Indiana had a massive third quarter that allowed them to win another shootout. They survived a 35 of 46 for 484 yards and 3 touchdowns passing performance from Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty.

The offense looked good for Indiana as Nate Sudfeld threw for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 of 27 passing. Jordan Howard ran wild with 203 yards on 31 carries and Devine Redding had 79 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Ricky Jones had his second 100 yard performance of the season with 5 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. The offense finished with 639 yards and went 8 of 12 on third down.

As usual, the defense is the worry for Indiana. They allowed 9 catches for 196 yards and a score from Taywan Taylor while Tyler Higbee had 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. They allowed a total of 568 yards of offense, but did force two interceptions out of Doughty that were turned into 14 points.

It will probably need to be the offense that gets the job done for Indiana as their defense will struggle. They face Wake Forest next week on the road in a big game for Indiana’s bowl hopes in 2015.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Penn State Nittany Lions

Result: Penn State Win 28-3 (Saturday, September 19)

The first Big Ten conference game of the season resulted in an easy win for the Nittany Lions. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was not overly impressive going just 10 of 19 for 141 yards with no touchdowns and a pick, but the rushing game sure was for PSU.

Saquon Barkley carried the ball 21 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns while Akeel Lynch ran for 120 yards and a score on just 10 carries. Those two were very impressive as was the offensive line that paved the way for them.

Rutgers, on the other hand, could not run the ball as they managed just 43 yards on 32 carries as a team. Chris Laviano had a little success through the air, but was largely stymied by the Penn State defense. Laviano finished 27 of 42 for 251 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Rutgers defense was not very good as they allowed 491 yards to Penn State.

Rutgers faces Kansas next week in their third non-conference game. Penn State takes on San Diego State at home next week.

Pittsburgh Panthers at Iowa Hawkeyes

Result: Iowa Win 27-24 (Saturday, September 19)

I was able to take a 10 point lead into halftime, but needed a last second, 57 yard field goal from Marshall Koehn to win the game 27-24.

C.J. Beathard had a decent game going 27 of 40 for 258 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. It largely fell on him to get the big plays as the rushing offense managed 105 yards on 29 carries. Jordan Canzeri had 12 carries for 49 yards and 2 scores while Beathard had 39 yards and a touchdown. Beathard led the Hawkeyes late in the game to set up Koehn’s 57 yard field goal.

The defense played a solid game giving up 282 yards and held the Panthers to just 55 yards on the ground. They forced two picks from Pittsburgh on their first two drives including one in the end zone. Desmond King came up with both of the interceptions and now has three on the season. The defense will be important for Iowa to continue strong start.

North Texas will visit next week in Iowa’s final non-conference game.

Check back next week for the round up of the Big Ten action in week four.