Unbeaten Buckeyes and Wolverines top newest AP poll

by Tyler Rushmeyer

After four weeks of conference play, two traditional powerhouses have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the Big Ten.

Michigan is 7-0 after its 17-10 defeat of Penn State on Saturday, while Ohio State picked up its 14th-straight win dating back to last year, defeating Michigan State 38-7 on Saturday and improving to 7-0 this season.

For their efforts, the Buckeyes remained in the No. 1 slot in an Associated Press poll while the Wolverines climbed to No. 2. This represents the first time Big Ten teams have occupied the top two spots in the poll since 1985, when Iowa was ranked No.1 and Michigan was No. 2.

Michigan’s 7-0 start is its first 7-0 start since 1997. That season, the Wolverines finished 12-0 and took home the national title. For Ohio State, it last jumped out to a 7-0 mark in its 2002 national title season, when it finished 14-0.

The pair’s perfect starts also represent the first time the Big Ten has boasted a tandem of 7-0 teams since 1998, when Wisconsin opened the season 9-0 and the Buckeyes began 8-0.

Michigan and Ohio State will meet on Nov. 18 in Columbus, Ohio, for their regular season finale.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has made sure his team does not look past its opponents or get caught up in the media hype during the buildup.

“We talk about the present and deal with what’s at hand,” he said. “If anyone gets caught up in it, I would say, ‘Go watch more film’ rather than read press clippings.”

Players of the week

The Big Ten handed out Co-Offensive Players of the Week awards to Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis and Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter.

Painter put together a career-best performance on Saturday, leading the Boilermakers to a 31-10 victory over Northwestern.

He finished the day with a career-high 35 completions on 49 attempts for 431 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown score.

Lewis’ efforts helped Indiana defeat No. 15 Iowa on Saturday, 31-28. It was the Hoosiers’ first win over a top-15 team since 1987.

He finished the day 19-of-25 for a career-high 255 yards and three touchdowns, while also adding a rushing score.

It is the first time Indiana has won back-to-back Big Ten games since 2001, and coach Terry Hoeppner credits much of that to his young quarterback.

“He’s finally playing like he’s been practicing and that’s why he’s playing,” he said. “He’s cutting down on mistakes, throwing the ball well and really giving us a chance to win.”

Senior defensive end LaMarr Woodley of Michigan took home the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award for his role in the Wolverines’ 17-10 victory over Penn State on Saturday.

He collected a team-high five tackles, including three for loss, while also picking up a pair of sacks and a forced fumble on the afternoon.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said he has been impressed with Woodley.

“Our defense starts with Woodley,” he said. “He loves to win, loves to compete. I think our entire defense has fed off him.”

Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. picked up the fourth Special Teams Player of the Week award of his career for his efforts in the Buckeyes’ victory over Michigan State on Saturday.

His 60-yard punt return touchdown was the sixth of his career, breaking the Big Ten record of five held by Iowa’s Tim Dwight (1994-1997).

Hill rolling

P.J. Hill joined historic company on Saturday for his role in his team’s 48-12 dismantling of Minnesota.

The Wisconsin running back became just the fourth freshman in NCAA history to reach 1,000 yards through his first seven games.

He now leads the Big Ten in rushing with 1,011 yards and is second in the nation.