|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Manningham far from being a favorite son in Ohio|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007 13:41|
Over the years, Michigan has invaded Ohio to snag standouts like Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson, as well as Thom Darden, Jim Mandich, Rob Lytle, Ricky Powers, Elvis Grbac, Dan Dierdorf, and Benny Friedman just to name a few.
It's one thing to battle your biggest rival. But it gets even more personal when your biggest rival used to be the kid down the street.
The latest native to be seen as a traitor by many Ohio State fans is Mario Manningham, a graduate of Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio.
In Saturday's showdown at The Big House, a lot of eyes - on both sides of the border - will be watching him. Manningham is in one of the best six-game stretches of his career, and that's saying a lot.
The junior leads the nation with a streak of six straight 100-yard receiving games and he has scored in each game, including a school-record 97-yard TD in last week's loss at Wisconsin.
``He's been unbelievable,'' Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr said. ``He's been sensational. He's a threat every time he touches the ball.''
Before a knee injury stunted Manningham last year, he had nine TDs in his first six games. He caught six TD passes in 2005 as a freshman.
``He did some great things as a true freshman,'' Carr said. ``A year ago, he really began to display the unique qualities as a receiver he possessed. He's got a great burst. He's tough, he loves the competitive part of it. In terms of all the things you want a wide receiver to do, he can do them.''
Except maybe wear his letter jacket in his hometown.
FATHER TIME: First-year Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is 51, but he wasn't born when Joe Paterno became an assistant at Penn State.
Paterno, 80, has been with the Nittany Lions program since 1950 and is now in his 42nd season as head coach. Asked if he could envision still coaching into his 80s, Dantonio didn't hesitate.
``No, I can't,'' Dantonio said in anticipation of Saturday's matchup with Paterno. ``That's 30 more years of this? No.''
EYE ON HELMETS: The Indiana Hoosiers will honor their 1967 Rose Bowl team by wearing throwback jerseys and helmets Saturday against Purdue in the game for the Old Oaken Bucket.
Director of football operations Harold Mauro, who played on that championship team, still has vivid memories from that season. But there's one thing he'd like to see Indiana bring back permanently - putting the single letter 'I' on the side of the Hoosiers' helmets.
``You know any team from here that's ever been offered to go to bowl game has always had an 'I' on the side of their helmet,'' Mauro said. ``I never liked the 'IU' on the headgear.''
Indiana (6-5) likely needs one more victory to earn its first bowl trip since 1993.
Fifteen of 22 starters and 50 players from the '67 team are expected to attend the reunion in Bloomington.
It's the only time Indiana has played in the Rose Bowl.
TURNING JUICE LOOSE: Coach Ron Zook's fourth-quarter decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Illinois 34 last Saturday at Ohio State was out of character.
The Illini have tried to convert on fourth down just seven times this season, fewer than any other Big Ten team, and made six of them. Minnesota's gamblin' Gophers lead the Big Ten with 21 fourth-down attempts, but have made only nine.
Zook made the decision only after QB Juice Williams convinced him.
``It was one of those things we just had to do,'' Zook said. ``When Ohio State called the timeout, Juice told me he would get it and I said that he'd better.''
With just under 7 minutes left, some Illini fans cringed when Zook decided to go for it. But the conversion opened the door to the 16-play drive Illinois used to kill the clock and upset the nation's top-ranked team, 28-21.
BOWL MEMORIES: Iowa is among four teams in the conference at 6-5, and in need of a win Saturday.
Iowa can ensure its seventh straight bowl game with a win against Western Michigan.
Others are still competing for a postseason spot, too, because there are more bowl-eligible teams than there are Big Ten ties to bowls.
Iowa's predicament had Ferentz waxing nostalgic about 1984, when he was assistant under Hayden Fry and bowl bids were much tougher to come by. The Hawkeyes were convinced that they were dead in the water after losing two of their final three. But Fry got an unexpected call from the Freedom Bowl late on a Sunday night, and Ferentz - who was watching tapes in the football complex - was the only guy left in the building.
``He was looking for somebody to share it with,'' said Ferentz. ``I got to be the first one to find out.''
Iowa went on to trounce Texas 55-17 in the Freedom Bowl, played in Anaheim, Calif.
NO BIG DEAL: The awards and honors are starting to pile up for Penn State's Dan Connor.
Connor won his fourth Big Ten defensive player of the week award of his career this week after making 18 tackles against Temple. He's also been mentioned on numerous lists for national awards.
All the accolades aren't getting much attention in the Connor household back in suburban Philadelphia, however.
``I don't think my family knows to be honest with you,'' Connor said. ``I just read it in the newspaper.''
QUICK-HITTERS: Two of Illinois' top players, CB Vontae Davis and WR Arrelious Benn, sustained concussions against Ohio State but have practiced and will play against Northwestern. ... Wisconsin travels to Minnesota in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. ... Illinois' Williams on offense, Penn State's Connor and Wisconsin DE Matt Shaughnessy on defense, and Indiana KR James Bailey were the conference's players of the week.
AP writers Larry Lage in Detroit, Genaro Armas in State College, Pa., Mike Marot in Indianapolis, David Mercer in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., Luke Meredith in Des Moines, Iowa, and Tim Martin in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.