Cupito wins Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week award after solid game

Cupito had his second 300-yard passing game of the season against Indiana.

Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota senior quarterback Bryan Cupito picked up the first weekly Big Ten award of his career after the Gophers dismantled Indiana 63-26 Saturday.

Cupito was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week after tying a career high with four touchdown passes and accumulating a season-best 377 passing yards after completing 22-of-33 attempts.

It was the Cincinnati native’s second 300-yard passing game of the year. He passed for 347- yards against Penn State on Oct. 7. It ranks only behind his 396-yard performance against Ohio State last season.

Cupito led the Gophers to five touchdowns during the team’s first six possessions.

In the process, Cupito moved into second place on the team’s career passing yardage list with 6,673 yards, only 162 yards shy of Cory Sauter (6,834).

Thanks to Cupito’s efforts, Minnesota scored the most points since 1916, when the Gophers beat Iowa 67-0.

“Just everything clicked,” coach Glen Mason said. “But I didn’t see it coming. I hope I see it again this Saturday, but I’m not sure.”

Other Big Ten awards

Northwestern sophomore running back Tyrell Sutton shared Offensive Player of the Week honors with Cupito.

Sutton totaled 203 all-purpose yards in the Wildcats’ 21-7 upset win at Iowa – the program’s first win against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City since 1996.

Sutton, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, rushed for 168 yards on 28 carriers, the most yards the Hawkeyes’ defense has allowed all season.

Illinois junior linebacker J Leman nabbed Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after a career-high 19 tackles – the most by a player within the conference this season – in a losing effort against Ohio State.

Leman also picked up a sack, forced a fumble and was a large reason why the top-ranked Buckeyes were held to a season-low 17 points.

He currently leads the Big Ten with 11.7 tackles per game.

The Special Teams Player of the Week award went to Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas.

The senior became the Wolverines all-time scoring leader after racking up 10 points, including two field goals from 22 and 23 yards.

Still undefeated

Despite both experiencing scares over the weekend, Ohio State and Michigan remained No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Bowl Championship Series poll.

The Buckeyes (10-0 overall, 6-0 Big Ten) just escaped Champaign, Ill., with a 17-10 win over Illinois, and the Wolverines (10-0, 6-0) held off Ball State 34-26.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Saturday’s narrow victory was a reality check for the nation’s top-ranked team.

“When you travel to someone’s stadium in the Big Ten conference, you better play for 60 minutes,” he said.

“I think we played well for about 40 minutes (against Illinois), but that’s not long enough.”

For the first time in over a century and only the second time in Big Ten history, two conference teams have 10-0 records.

The only other time it happened was in 1904 when the Wolverines (10-0) and the Gophers (13-0) went undefeated.

That won’t happen this year when the Buckeyes and Michigan meet on Nov. 18 with the Big Ten title and a spot in the BCS national championship game both likely on the line.

No. 16 Wisconsin (9-1, 6-1) is the only other Big Ten team still in contention for the conference crown.

Saturday, Ohio State has its road finale against Northwestern and the Wolverines travel to Bloomington, Ind., to face the Hoosiers.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said his team made critical errors against Ball State and, if the team was looking forward to Ohio State, it needs to refocus quickly.

Smith out

Even with coach John L. Smith halfway out the door, Michigan State still has plenty to play for this weekend against the Gophers.

The Spartans (4-6, 1-5) have lost six of seven games, but with two wins to finish the season, they can become bowl eligible. Minnesota (4-5, 1-5) is in the same scenario.

Smith will finish out the season, but was told last Wednesday he won’t be returning in 2007.

Despite having a lame duck coach, Michigan State players have been trying to rally around Smith.

Smith said he hasn’t thought much about Saturday being his last game at Spartan Stadium. He said he is much more concerned with having the seniors walk away with a win.

“I just want to see a smile on our seniors’ faces,” he said.

Paterno injured

Penn State coach Joe Paterno has had a rough season physically.

The 79-year-old coach broke his left leg in the Nittany Lions’ 13-3 loss at Wisconsin Saturday after two players ran into him on the sideline.

Despite the injury, Paterno plans to coach against Temple on Saturday. On Sunday, he had surgery to repair his broken leg and two torn knee ligaments he suffered in the collision.

This isn’t the first of sideline difficulties for Paterno this season.

On Sept. 23 at Ohio State, he became ill and had to leave the sideline on a few occasions.

The next week in practice, Paterno was leveled by two of his own players in practice and wasn’t able to run out with the team the following week.