Manningham lights it up again to earn second straight Big Ten weekly honor

by Mark Remme

Michigan sophomore Mario Manningham recorded his second straight Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award after grabbing a career-high seven receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 27-13 win against Wisconsin on Saturday.

Manningham became the second Michigan player in school history to be honored with the award in back-to-back weeks. Desmond Howard accomplished the feat in September 1991.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said Manningham’s ability to make plays after the catch has given him success this season.

“I think the thing that Mario’s doing pretty well that’s set up a lot of his touchdowns is that he’s caught the ball in front of his defenders,” Carr said. “Because of that, he’s been able to get behind the secondary.”

In the past two weeks, Manningham had 11 receptions for 250 yards and five touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Purdue senior defensive end Anthony Spencer received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award.

Spencer had a career day, setting personal records with ten total tackles, which included nine solo tackles, three tackles for losses and two sacks. He also forced and recovered a fumble against Minnesota.

Iowa City showdown
Ohio State will take its

No. 1 overall ranking into Iowa City on Saturday for a matchup with its third ranked opponent in five weeks this season.

The 13th-ranked Hawkeyes will look to improve on their performance in Columbus, Ohio last year that resulted in a

31-6 trouncing at the hands of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Iowa is one of the best teams in the country, let alone the conference.

Tressel gives Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz’s coaching philosophy credit in making Kinnick Stadium a difficult place to play.

“Kirk has had his staff together for as long as he’s been there,” he said. “He’s got great continuity in his teaching. They’re extremely tough – sure tacklers, aggressive blockers.”

Ferentz said Ohio State is hitting on all cylinders, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“For the quote-unquote ‘inexperience’ on the defensive side, those guys are just playing super football giving up just eight points per game,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s the most important statistic there is defensively.”

Trophies take midfield
Two trophy games will take place Saturday, marking the beginning of renewed storied rivalries in the Big Ten.

Michigan faces Minnesota to fight for the Little Brown Jug, while Purdue travels to face Notre Dame to battle over the Shillelagh.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said he’s looking forward to another rivalry meeting with the Gophers, which is now in its 95th year.

“It’s the oldest trophy in college football dating back to 1903,” Carr said. “I think that speaks to the tradition of it.”

Michigan leads the overall series with 67 wins, 24 losses and three ties. The Wolverines lost to the Gophers last year for the first time in 16 meetings.

Purdue handed the Shillelagh to Notre Dame last year after losing 49-28 in West Lafayette, Ind. Notre Dame has 31 victories in the rivalry game, while the Boilermakers have 18.

The perfect start
After four weeks, four Big Ten teams remain with unbeaten records.

Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, and Purdue all sit perfect in the standings heading into week five, with three of those four teams ranked 13th or higher nationally.

The conference boasts four of only 19 remaining unbeaten teams in the country and has the most unbeaten teams out of any Division 1-A conference.