Tag Archives: Illinois Fighting Illini

Hlas Column: Big Ten Basketball is Defense and, uh, Defense

The Michigan men’s basketball team plays Iowa today, giving us hope.

Maybe one or both of the teams will crack 50, 55, or — dare I say it? — 60 points in the game.

The Wolverines did tally 74 in their 12-point home win over Minnesota Thursday. Perhaps the momentum of that effort will send Carver-Hawkeye Arena back in time, when teams sometimes traded scores on consecutive possessions.

Living here, we think offense appearing to be played in quicksand is a Hawkeye thing. Yes, Iowa does rank 304th of the 330 Division I teams in scoring with 60.6 points per game. That’s 31 less than North Carolina averages.

But the Hawkeyes reside in a conference that plays different ball than most other American leagues.

“The Big Ten puts a huge emphasis on defense,” said Big Ten Network studio analyst Tim Doyle. “The ACC and the Big East, they’re more willing to give up a hoop thinking they’ll get a hoop on the next possession.”

OK, Doyle’s a Big Ten Network guy and a former Big Ten player. He played very well for three seasons at Northwestern after transferring from St. John’s, near his hometown on Long Island.

But he doesn’t sound like a Big Ten puppet on the air, or off it.

“I don’t know if it’s in the water,” he said, “but it does seem like guys on the East Coast and maybe the SEC are more athletic. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s what the farmers are feeding us here.”

Through Thursday’s games, these were the points per team in conference games of the six BCS leagues: 1. ACC 73.1, 2. SEC 72.0, 3. (tie) Big 12 and Big East 71.0, 5. Pac-10 67.1, 6. Big Ten 63.4.

“But look at the defensive production,” Doyle said. “Look at points-per-game allowed, field goal percentage defense. Look at the assist-to-turnover ratio. They aren’t gaudy or sexy categories, but the Big Ten dominates them.”

If you like that kind of ball, it’s great. But take the names off the uniforms and which do you think would get more of a following, the Big 12 or Big East with seven teams apiece averaging over 76 points per game, or the Big Ten, with only Michigan State (79th at 73.8 ppg) among the nation’s top 145 teams in scoring?

Seven Big Ten teams are among the country’s top 45 in scoring defense. Iowa is 12th at 58.9 points allowed per game. Even as short-handed as they’ve been lately, the Hawkeyes play good defense.

But the only time defense-dominated ball captures the public’s fancy is when it leads to lots of wins.

Nothing makes Penn State’s 38-33 win at Illinois last Wednesday satisfying. Had that score been posted in a Big East or ACC gym, America would have howled in disgust. But since it occurred in Big Ten play, it’s more amusing than shocking.

Ultimately, though, can Big Ten teams cut through the NCAA tournament? Doyle says yes, and he has history on his side.

Since Michigan State was the last Big Ten team to win it all, in 2000, five more conference teams have been to the Final Four. Illinois and MSU went in the same year, 2005.

In those same eight seasons only the ACC (seven) and Big 12 (six) had as many Final Four representatives.

“I know this is hard to believe,” Doyle said, “but I think the Big Ten is poised to have a nice NCAA tourney.

“Look at the non-conference season. Purdue lost to Oklahoma in overtime, Oklahoma is No. 2 in the country, and Purdue gave that game away. I think Oklahoma shot 50 free throws (46, actually) and Purdue had five.

“Illinois beat the crap out of Missouri (75-59), for lack of a better word, in St. Louis.

“Nationally, the league doesn’t have the sexy rankings or five teams in the Top 25. But it has the strengths-of-schedules, the RPIs that the tournament committee looks at.”

None of which changes the facts the ACC and Big 12 and Big East tournaments will be more enjoyable to watch than the Big Ten tourney.

Nor does it change the fact Michigan-Iowa isn’t likely to be as entertaining as today’s Syracuse-Villanova or Wake Forest-Duke games.

But Doyle says better days are coming for the Hawkeyes. He calls himself a big fan of Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter, and likes Lickliter’s nucleus of young players.

“Jeff Peterson’s improved his game,” said Doyle. “If he and (Cyrus) Tate are healthy, and if (Anthony) Tucker was there, they’d have seven or eight wins in the conference.

“Jake Kelly and (Matt) Gatens, I really like them. Gatens is going to be one of those guys who are rock-solid, and Peterson will be a rock-solid point guard.”

But we live in the present, and Doyle doesn’t pretend the Hawkeyes will wow their Big Ten Network audience with offensive artistry today.

“They would put a glass eye to sleep,” he said.

Big Ten Football 2009: Cupcakes Galore

With the confirmation Wednesday that Illinois will close its season with a game at Cincinnati, all the Big Ten football schedules are set for 2009.

First off, while Illini fans sound irritated that their team will play Fresno State at home and Cincinnati on the road — both capable squads – after the Big Ten season is over, at least they’re real opponents.

Good for the Illini. It may mean another 5-7 season or, worse, a trip to the Motor City Bowl at 6-6. But it at least shows some willingness to play competition.

Either that, or Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther failed miserably at finding a patsy to squeeze into his schedule. I hope it’s that deal about wanting to play someone.

If only every Big Ten AD and coach had the same attitude. Hey, the Big Ten isn’t winning BCS titles anyhow and flops miserably every time it sends Ohio State to slaughter in the championship game. So why not make the regular-season more meaningful with actual ballgames?

Only 14 of the 44 nonconference games in ’09 are against BCS conference teams or Notre Dame. That’s ridiculous.

Are you the Big Ten or just the Ten? Actually, you’re the Eleven, but that horse has been beaten to death.

Only three league teams — Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota — are playing two BCS conference teams among their four non-league games. Wisconsin isn’t playing any.

Before noting the cupcakes, let’s give some kudos to the proud and the few who are at least playing interesting games.

Ohio State gets the return date on its home-and-home series with USC.

Purdue heads to Oregon after hosting the Ducks last fall.

Indiana filled out its schedule by taking a game at Virginia, thus becoming the only Big Ten team to play two of its nonconference games on the road.

Cal is playing at Minnesota and Arizona is at Iowa, so those are 2008 bowl teams from the Pac-10 coming into Big Ten lairs.

But by and large, Big Ten non-league slates are another big pile of bleccccch.

Nine games are against FCS (I-AA) opposition. Purdue and Ohio State are the only Big Ten teams not devouring FCS prey. A few are among the cream of the FCS crop, like Northern Iowa and Wofford. But …

Delaware State (5-6 last year) at Michigan?

Towson (3-9) at Northwestern?

Eastern Illinois (5-7) at Penn State?

Penn State is playing all four of its nonconference games at home, against Akron, Syracuse, Temple and mighty Eastern Illinois. That’s absurd. Are you a football power or not? If you are, act like one and schedule somebody.

Playing two Mid-American Conference teams, an FCS squad and Syracuse, the Least of the Big East, is great for wins. It won’t work too well in those BCS computers, though.

Ranking the non-league schedules by toughness is difficult, because most are lousy. But here goes:

1. Illinois: Vs. Missouri in St. Louis, Illinois State, Fresno State, at Cincinnati (The series with Mizzou is a good one, and Cincinnati is fresh off an Orange Bowl appearance.)

2. Minnesota: at Syracuse, Air Force, California, South Dakota State (Air Force and Cal went to bowls, Syracuse is on the road, and S.D. State is one of the better FCS teams a Big Ten team is playing.)

3.  Purdue: Toledo, at Oregon, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame. (Toledo was lousy in ’08, but the other three went to bowls and Oregon won 10 games.)

4. Wisconsin: Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford, at Hawaii (The three FBS teams went to bowls, and Wofford won nine games and played South Carolina to a 10-point game.)

5. Ohio State: Navy, USC, vs. Toledo in Cleveland, New Mexico State (The USC game goes a long way here, obviously.)

6. Michigan State: Montana State, Central Michigan, at Notre Dame, Western Michigan. (Doesn’t look like much, but the three FBS teams went to bowls, the two MAC teams are in-state clubs that will be motivated, going to South Bend is no picnic, and Montana State was 7-5)

7. Iowa: Northern Iowa, at Iowa State, Arizona, Arkansas State. (UNI’s a terrific FCS team, and Arizona’s legit. If Iowa State were just a little stronger …)

Now it gets bad.

8. Indiana: Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, at Akron, at Virginia. (Western Michigan is a good program. Playing on the road twice should count for something, though all it really means is Indiana is a Big Ten football program without much clout.)

9. Michigan: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Delaware State. (Four home games. Not a Top 25 team in the bunch. This isn’t the Michigan scheduling we’ve known for the last half-century. Bo Schembechler would never have scheduled Delaware State.)

10. Northwestern: Miami (Ohio), Towson, at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan. (Not a good opponent in the foursome. Only playing Syracuse on the road keeps the ‘Cats from being ranked below … )

11. Penn State: Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Eastern Illinois. (What, Slippery Rock, Swarthmore, Susquehanna, and Scranton/Dundler-Miffin weren’t available?)

The Hlist: America’s Most-Craved College Football Roundup

By Mike Hlas
Photo

Illinois head football coach Ron Zook, left, talks with linemen Jeff Alle (rear) and Jon Asamoah during Saturday’s 23-17 loss to Western Michigan at Ford Field in Detroit. (AP photo)

Opening kickoff

“We are at about 19,000 feet. The mountain is at 26,000 feet, and the air is changing a little bit. The air is a little rarer.” — Alabama Coach Nick Saban after his team improved to 10-0 with a 27-21 overtime win at LSU

First downs

1. The Wait is On: There is no Game of the Week this week. Which is all right, because next week’s is good enough for two weeks.

It’s 10-0 Texas Tech at 9-1 Oklahoma. Both are idle this week. Both got even more revved up Saturday. Tech routed No. 8 Oklahoma State, 56-20, and Oklahoma obliterated Texas A&M, 66-28.

“We can stop ourselves, and that’s what we try not to do,” said stellar Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree. “But I think probably that’s about the only people who can stop us.”

“We seem to surprise a lot of people other than our team,” added his coach, Mike Leach.

The Red Raiders have scored 479 points. Oklahoma tops even that, with 514. The Sooners held a 66-21 lead over A&M after three quarters in College Station, then released their feet from Aggie throats.

“There are still sportsmanship issues that you do your best to handle,” Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said. “I just think that’s important. We played hard for three quarters.

“You just have to choose sportsmanship over BCS points. To me, in the end, it’s the right way to play it.”

OU running back Chris Brown didn’t have the same sentiment after his three-touchdown effort.

“You know how the BCS is going right now,” Brown said. “You just can’t win by a nail-biter, unless it’s a very great team you’re playing against. You can get up on a team 35-0 in the first half and fell like, well, the game’s over. Not with us. We want to keep pouring it on.”

2. Dancing in East Lansing: Did you see this coming? Did anyone? The first-place team in the Big Ten on Nov. 11 is Michigan State.

The Spartans are 6-1, a nose in front of 5-1 Ohio State and 5-1 Penn State. They have this week off, then play for at least a share of the Big Ten title Nov. 22 at Penn State. MSU is virtually assured its first January bowl in nine years

Michigan State beat Purdue, 21-7, to set up its showdown in State College.

“We’ve been through a lot together, but I think our greatest moments are ahead of us,” said Spartans senior quarterback Brian Hoyer. “We have an opportunity to do something here that hasn’t been done in a long time.”

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio: “I said last year that we have an opportunity to win every single football game that we come out to. Everything we do — the 80 hours a week you work as a coach — that’s to win, that’s not to stay close.”

3. Bucking Broncos: Can anyone in the Big Ten defeat Western Michigan?

The Broncos of the Mid-American Conference handled Illinois in Detroit, 23-17. WMU quarterback Tim Hiller completed 28 of 40 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns.

You may remember Hiller torching Iowa for 367 yards and three TDs in Western’s 28-19 win in Iowa City last November.

“He’s a great player, an NFL player, with unbelievable accuracy,” said Illinois Coach Ron Zook.

“My grandfather (Dan Sabino) played for Illinois in 1952 when they won the Rose Bowl,” Hiller said. “He had his jersey and ring in his office. I learned all about Illinois football. That’s why this was so special.”

4. Campbell Mmmm Mmmm Good: The Hlist normally holds pickpockets in the same regard it does Pick ‘Ems.

That’s The Gazette’s Saturday Pick ‘ems, a weekly collection of bizarre predictions and even less stable commentary. The Hlist is one of the participants. The Hlist may be a self-Hloather.

But KCRG-TV’s John Campbell predicted this score: Iowa 24, Penn State 23. And that’s no fish tale.

FUMBLES

1. Penned In: Penn State’s loss to the Hawkeyes wasn’t welcomed only in Iowa.

“Let’s face it, the majority of the country did not want to see Penn State in the BCS title game,” wrote Stewart Mandel of sportsillustrated.com.

It’s hard to get too down on Penn State. That’s still the best team in the Big Ten, and will be the league’s Rose Bowl representative. Plus, Joe Paterno was more than generous after Saturday’s game.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Iowa,” Paterno said. “The Iowa kids stayed tough, played hard. Their quarterback played a heck of a game for them. . . . And when they turned the ball over for us, we didn’t get the job done. Don’t take anything away from Iowa, OK?”

What becomes a legend most? Grace in a difficult moment, that’s what.

2. Orange Slush: Let’s say you’re the Motor City Bowl, and Illinois finds a way to win one of its last two games to finish 6-6. Do you want the Fighting Illini in your game?

Who is the Motor City Bowl to be picky? Who is the Motor City Bowl to turn up its nose at a team that was in the Rose Bowl last season?

Well, Illinois played in Detroit Saturday, losing to Western Michigan in front of a reported gathering of 12,785. The actual crowd was about half that at 65,000-seat Ford Field, the site of the Motor City Bowl. It is believed to be the smallest crowd to see an Illini game since they hosted Pittsburgh before 9,962 fans in 1945.

“We could have played them naked in a gymnasium (and still lost), said Illinois defensive coordinator Dan Disch.

“We want our seniors to go out with a bang,” said Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn, “but they’re not going out with the bang they expected.”

3. Gophers Burrow Downward: Minnesota was nationally ranked and 7-1. Then it lost successive home games to Northwestern and Michigan, which aren’t exactly Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

“You could tell they didn’t take us seriously,” said Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham after the Wolverines’ 29-7 win at Minnesota. “They weren’t expecting us to smack them in the mouth. They questioned our toughness. They must have thought that we just stopped caring about playing.”

The Gophers stop playing their home games in the Metrodome for good after their season-finale against Iowa. Michigan (3-7) closed its Metrodome history with 12 wins in 12 visits. That’s a dozen times it left the Dome with the Little Brown Jug traveling trophy.

“Michigan needs to get the Little Brown Jug, fill it with cognac, and forget this whole season ever happened.” said Chris Fowler on ESPN’s College Gameday.

Final gun

“Okay, this time I really mean it: Since Notre Dame clearly can’t hold up its end of the football rivalry, BC really is going to have to drop them from our schedule the way we did Holy Cross.” — Mike Lupica, New York Daily News and Boston College grad.

BC beat Notre Dame, 17-0, for its sixth-straight win over the Irish.

Photo

(AP photo of Michigan State’s Javon Ringer)

Is Halloween Night in Champaign Safe for Iowa Fans, or Anyone?

UI police advise Hawkeye fans on Champaign-Urbana threat

 

The University of Iowa and University of Illinois Departments of Public Safety are advising Iowa football fans attending the game in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. this weekend about a notice issued by University of Illinois police regarding a threat:

 

“The University of Illinois Police Department is investigating a threat made in a note found at the Undergraduate Library. A library patron found the note on Sunday (Oct. 5) at about 11:30 a.m. in a men’s restroom. The note threatened that on Halloween night (Friday, Oct. 31), the suspect intends to shoot a person on Green Street.

 

“A multi-jurisdictional team has been established to assess and investigate the threat. Members of this investigative effort include the Champaign Police Department, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office, the University of Illinois Police Department and the Urbana Police Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also is assisting.

 

“Police are requesting the community’s assistance in locating the suspect who communicated this threat. Community members with information regarding this threat can contact the University of Illinois Police Department at 217-333-1216. Citizens also may anonymously contact Crime Stoppers by calling 217-373-8477, by submitting anonymous tips online at www.373tips.com or by texting Tip397 plus the relevant information to 274637 (CRIMES).”

 

The University of Iowa has been in touch with University of Illinois police, who are treating the threat seriously and taking necessary precautions. The University of Iowa is providing the information to Hawkeye fans and others who plan to visit Champaign-Urbana this weekend to inform them of the threat and urge them to use their best judgment when visiting the area.

 

Police say they do not expect any incidents at the game Nov. 1 in connection with this threat.

Iowa’s Bowl Possibilities: From Florida to Detroit

No one, and I mean no one, can offer a convincing prediction about which bowl Iowa will attend this season, if any.

The reason: There are way too many Big Ten games in November that you can’t safely forecast, and three of them are among the Hawkeyes’ final four contests.

Can you say Iowa will win at Illinois? No, not even with the way the Illini have sputtered. Illinois will be a motivated team with the ever-dangerous Juice Williams at quarterback. However, you have to like Iowa’s chances of rushing with its typical 2008 success after seeing the Illini’s run defense at Wisconsin Saturday.

Can you say Iowa will lose at home to Penn State with certainty? No. Is Iowa’s defense significantly less than Ohio State’s? No. And the Buckeyes held the Nittany Lions to 281 yards and 13 points Saturday night in Columbus.

Can you say Iowa will definitely win at Minnesota in the season-finale? (We’re calling the Hawks’ home game against Purdue a win between the Penn State and Minnesota outings.) Obviously not with the way the Gophers have played in racking up a 7-1 mark.

So, Iowa can conceivably finish the regular season 9-3, 8-4, 7-5 or 6-6. That’s Tampa and the Capital One Bowl all the way down to Detroit and the Motor City Bowl.

I can’t see the Capital One Bowl as possible for Iowa. Maybe there’s a 1 percent likelihood. Say Ohio State loses two of its last three games and Iowa wins out. But there’s a 1 percent likelihood of a lot of things in life not worth worrying about.

This is why bowl projections are so absurd until, say, the regular-season has one week left. If Iowa upends Penn State, the Nittany Lions are out of the national-title picture and everything goes haywire for the Big Ten. It’s hard to see an 11-1 Penn State and a 10-2 Ohio State (if it wins at Illinois) both in BCS games, especially with Boise State and probably Utah snapping up spots.

On the flip side, the Hawkeyes have plenty of work to do just worrying about beating Illinois this week despite the Illini’s October pratfalls against Minnesota and Wisconsin. If the Hawks lose in Champaign, they could be staring at 5-5 once Penn State leaves Kinnick Stadium. Then it’s beat Purdue and try to beat Minnesota in the Metrodome for a winning season.

You go from dreaming of the Outback to tumbling past the Alamo and Champs Sports to the Insight and perhaps the (gasp) Motor City.

Minnesota, by the way, is the great wild card. The 7-1 Gophers ought to be 9-1 after they’ve hosted Northwestern and Michigan. Then they play at Wisconsin before the Iowa game. Minnesota could conceivably be 10-1, and probably no worse than 9-2, when they make their all-time Metrodome finale against the Hawkeyes in an atmosphere that should be frenzied.

Where Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin fit in bowl-speculation is unclear at best. The Illini are 4-4 and have four games left that could all go good or bad, including a trip to Western Michigan. Northwestern is bowl-eligible at 6-2, but doesn’t have a game left in which you’d call it a solid favorite. Wisconsin, 4-4, plays at Michigan State and Indiana before coming home for Minnesota and Cal Poly. That could be a 6-6 team.

If Ohio State doesn’t make it to a BCS bowl, we could be looking at eight Big Ten teams and seven affiliated bowls. For the first time in its agreement with the Big Ten, the Motor City Bowl may be in a position to pick who it likes best from the conference. What it really wants, of course, is for 2-6 Michigan to morph into a Michigan football team, win its final four, and bring its 6-6 record to Ford Field in downtown Detroit to play some fabulous Mid-American Conference club.

You can’t have everything, Motor City Bowl.

Badgers’ House of Pain

The song they play between the third and fourth quarters at Wisconsin home football games is House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” There wasn’t much jumping around in Madison this weekend. Not about Wisconsin football, anyhow.

The Badgers came home from a 38-16 loss at Iowa shake.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

How bad was it? Let Jay Valai spell it out for you.

“Our manhood was took today,” the sophomore strong safety said. “As a team, we backed down.”

This from MJS columnist Michael Hunt:

One could only imagine what the athletic director was thinking from his Kinnick Stadium box as he looked down upon a team coached by his handpicked successor that stopped getting better about the time its 19-point lead was evaporating in Ann Arbor going on a month ago. The Badgers’ confidence and fundamental play has since eroded to the extent that Bret Bielema admitted, “It’s a mental thing. It’s a physical thing. It’s an everything thing.”

As he did at halftime, Bielema can yell at the players all he wants. But when it comes to the basics going on a month, that’s coaching.

Wisconsin hosts Illinois Saturday. It’s a game Iowa’s team and its fans will watch with interest, since the Hawkeyes’ next game is the following Saturday at Illinois. The Fighting Illini looked good Saturday night against Indiana. It would be in Iowa’s best interest if the Badgers started jumping around Saturday and relocated their manhood enough to put a few welts on the Illini.

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=807577

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=807599

Hlist: Everything That Happened Last Week in College Football and So Much More

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Opening kickoff

“Northwestern is not ready for this, not yet. It was 5-0 and ranked Nos. 22 and 23 in two of the three major polls. But it had beaten up on nobodies and one sort-of, Iowa.” — Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times, on the Wildcats’ 37-20 loss to Michigan State

First downs

1. Schooling His Old School: Minnesota Coach Tim Brewster was the captain of Illinois’ 1983 Rose Bowl team. In his first game at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium, his 12-point underdog Gophers shocked the Fighting Illini, 27-20.

“It’s hard. I have mixed emotions,” Brewster said. “I care about my alma mater. But I also have tremendous feelings for this Minnesota team. We came here on a mission to win. We have a philosophy: ‘Why not us? Why not now?'”

The 6-1 Gophers were 1-11 last year, Brewster’s debut season as their coach.

“We’re already bowl-eligible. This is very exciting for me, very exciting for the seniors,” said Minnesota linebacker Steve Davis. “We just want to keep pushing and get to that Rose Bowl.”

Uh, Minnesota did allow 550 yards to the Illini, 462 of those passing. Don’t make Pasadena plans just yet, Gopher fans.

2. JoePa’s Got Jump: Every Wisconsin home game, UW students spend the time between the third and fourth quarters jumping to House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

Penn State linebacker Nate Stupar jumped to the music Saturday, too. Nittany Lions defensive tackle Jared Odrick broke into a dance.

You’d dance, too, if you’d beaten the Badgers 48-7 in their Camp Randall Stadium. It’s normally a house of pain for visitors.

Are the 7-0 Nittany Lions in the national title picture?

“We certainly deserve to be considered,” said their coach, Joe Paterno.
3. Imperfect Storm: Oklahoma and Missouri supposedly were on a collision course to meet in the Big 12 title game, maybe both with 12-0 records. Then they faced Texas and Oklahoma State, respectively.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy hadn’t liked the way he played the week before at Colorado. He told Longhorns Coach Mack Brown, “I didn’t play very well tonight, but next week is my week.”

McCoy was a prophet. He completed 28 of 35 passes and expertly steered the Horns to a 45-35 win over the No. 1 Sooners. Now Texas is No. 1.

Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy’s players are 20 (and 21 and 22). They are men. They won at No. 3 Missouri, 28-23.

The $165 million that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens donated to Oklahoma State in 2006 to transform the school’s football stadium and training areas is bearing fruit.

“Boone, he was there (in the OSU locker room after the Missouri win) and he was excited,” Gundy said. “He hadn’t had a lot to be excited about lately.”

Pickens filed suit last week against Lehman Brothers, claiming the investment bank owes him and four of his energy funds $59.9 million.

As the Hlist always says, $59.9 million here and $59.9 million there, pretty soon it adds up to some real money.

4. FIU is AOK: The Hlist and others in Iowa had their fun with Florida International in early September. FIU did nothing to help its football reputation by losing 42-0 to the Hawkeyes.

Look who’s won three in a row, the latest a 33-21 handling of Middle Tennessee State.

True freshman T.Y. Hilton caught a 63-yard touchdown pass against MTSU. Hilton is nicknamed ”T.Y. Goodbye” by FIU fans. The well-known AOL signoff “Goodbye” was played on the stadium speakers after he scored.

Twice, when Middle Tennessee punted out of bounds to avoid him, Hilton turned to the FIU student section and turned his thumbs down. That got the students booing the MTSU punter.

Who knew FIU football was so fun?

Fumbles

1. Badgered Bret: “When you get into the coaching profession you know there are going to be good days and bad days,” Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said. “Today …”

That was said Saturday night in Madison after a 48-7 loss to Penn State, Wisconsin’s third straight loss and its worst since a 51-3 pounding from Miami 19 years ago.

Bielema, a former Iowa player and assistant coach, began this year with a 21-5 mark, 12-4 in the Big Ten. Things have gotten harder.

This was a preseason Big Ten title contender? Now it’s a dazed and confused outfit that is coming to Iowa on Saturday.

“I would have put a house up saying we’ll never start 0-3, even with the three games we had,” junior linebacker Jaevery McFadden said.

That’s why the NCAA doesn’t let its players gamble.

2. Wasted Juice: Illinois Coach Ron Zook feared his team would have a letdown after its 45-20 win at Michigan the week before. It did. Now 3-3 Illinois has as many losses as it did all last season.

“Just because you go to Michigan and win a game there, that doesn’t mean (anything),” he said. “Everybody in this league is out to get you.”

Illini quarterback Juice Williams set a Memorial Stadium record with 503 total yards. Illinois entered Gopher territory 10 times, for an average of two points per visit.

Note to the Illini: You don’t get many Juice Williamses. You may want to stop wasting the one you have.

(AP photo)

3. Michigan’s a Mess: Michigan lost 13-10 to Toledo, a team that had been 1-4 and got clobbered at home by Florida International. Which is in worse shape in the Detroit-Ann Arbor area, Ford Motor Company or Wolverines football?

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: “The Big House has become a big joke. There is no safe sanctuary for what’s quickly crystallizing into the worst Wolverines season in more than 40 years.

“The Rockets’ 13-10 stunner drove another stake through the guts and pride of a Michigan program that must wonder this worrisome morning if there’s actually another win somewhere on its schedule.”

4. Picks, Not Kicks: Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes picked off two passes in the Gators’ 51-21 pasting of LSU. He returned his second interception 52 yards for a touchdown, then weakly punted the ball into the end zone stands.

“Just the passion for the game kinda took over,” Spikes said. “(Punter Chas Henry) said ‘You kinda shanked that thing.'”

Florida Coach Urban Meyer on Spikes’ 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty:

“I’m going to kill him. But that’s all right.”

Final gun

“Texas is better than OU.

“Go ahead. Read it to yourself. Read it aloud. Scream it if you want. Tell the neighbors. Text someone. Write your congressman.

“It’s true. Texas has a better football team than Oklahoma. Savor it, Longhorn fans. Feel it, take it in, believe it.” — Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman.

Kirk seemed a bit giddy.