Big Ten notes: ‘Psycho’ kicking game big concern for Indiana; Quote of the week and more

And you wonder why college football coaches get gray hair.

Indiana’s Kevin Wilson figured the last thing he had to worry about this season was placekicking.

Griffin Oakes was the first-team All-Big Ten kicker last season. The three-year starter made 82.8 percent of his field goals (24 of 29), including 6 of 8 from 40 yards or longer. He also led the league in kickoffs that resulted in touchbacks.

But had you watched Oakes last Saturday against Rutgers, you would have never guessed he had an all-conference plaque.

Midway through the first quarter, Oakes missed the extra point after Indiana’s second touchdown. Later that quarter, he had a 54-yard field goal blocked. Then in the third quarter, he saw a 20-yard field goal blocked and a 42-yard field goal sail wide.

Oakes now is 11 of 20 on field goals, a 33 percent drop-off from last season.

Despite those kicking follies, Indiana defeated Rutgers 33-27. But Wilson is sweating what lies ahead.

“We have an issue with the holder and the kicker — the confidence issue,” he said. “Those guys are good, but they are a little psycho right now.”

With the Hoosiers needing at least one victory in their final three games to get bowl eligible for a second straight season, Wilson wants the kicking woes solved now.

“This time of year, with the weather and the wind and the opponents you’re playing, we are going to need to kick it better,” he said. “They have the talent to.

“Sometimes, those mental demons and psychologic barriers are more cumbersome than the physical barriers. The kicker can’t hide. He either makes it or he doesn’t, and everyone knows. We have to fight through it.”

The final three games for Indiana (5-4, 3-3) are No. 12 Penn State, at No. 2 Michigan and Purdue.

Quote of the week

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio on his team’s injury woes:

“It happens. This is a physical game. It’s not played on a computer screen.”

Players of the week

Co-offense: Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel. Speight, a junior from Richmond, Virginia, passed for 362 yards and scored his first rushing touchdown in a win over Maryland. Samuel, a junior from Brooklyn, New York, had 173 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in a win over Nebraska.

Defense: Illinois linebacker Tre Watson. The sophomore from Tampa, Florida, had a career-high 16 tackles in a win over Michigan State.

Special teams: Minnesota kicker Emmit Carpenter. The sophomore from Green Bay, Wisconsin, kicked field goals of 28, 52 and 53 yards in a win over Purdue.

Freshman: Penn State guard Connor McGovern. The Larksville, Pennsylvania, product led an offensive line that produced 599 yards in a win over Iowa.

Bits and pieces

» Michigan offensive tackle Grant Newsome suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 1 against Wisconsin. It wasn’t until Tuesday — 38 days later — that the senior starter was released from the hospital following surgery. Newsome left the hospital in a wheelchair with his right leg immobilized from just below the knee down. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has declined to give details of the injury, but has said he thinks Newsome will play football again.

» Ohio State students received an email Monday from coach Urban Meyer, thanking them for creating “an awesome atmosphere” for the Nebraska game. He also praised them for “sincere applause and heartfelt cheers” for injured Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong.

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