In today’s Big Ten Links I found a number of must-reads, including a good one on Penn State. Which direction is this fragile Penn State going to go after its gut-wrenching season-opening loss to Ohio? To keep the team together, coach Bill O’Brien has to stress the positives. Really, there is no other choice.
Up next is a trip to Virginia that should prove to be tough. A loss in Charlottesville, and the defeats could start to pile up for the Nittany Lions. Read more links in this post.
Back at it: It’s doubtful that if running back Fitz Toussaint had played against Alabama that he would have made much of a difference for Michigan. Well, he’s back now from a suspension following a DUI arrest earlier this summer. And he’s contrite, as he speaks for the first time.
Tweet storm: Speaking of that pasting the Wolverines took, much has been made about Michigan State players mocking Michigan players during the Wolverines’ sobering 41-14 loss to Alabama.
Some people think the Spartans went too far in their ridicule. No doubt, this only adds more fuel to what already is an uber-intense rivalry. One thing is certain amid all of this hubbub: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio isn’t a fan of Twitter.
Dial it down: It was difficult not to be impressed with the debut of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in the Buckeyes’ 56-10 thrashing of Miami (Ohio). The sophomore set a school single-game record for quarterbacks by rushing for 161 yards. He also threw for 207 and two scores. In some circles, that has vaulted Miller into the Heisman conversation. I agree. Miller belongs in the discussion. But, coach Urban Meyer isn’t buying it.
Room to improve; MarQueis Gray knows he had his share of overthrows in Minnesota’s win at UNLV to open the season. And, he owns up to them. Isn’t that the first step with any problem? Admitting you have one?
How bad were the Golden Gophers’ first 10 possessions vs. the Rebels? There were six punts, two turnovers, a missed field goal and one touchdown. Many issues helped short-circuit those drives, including silly penalties. But, again, Gray’s inaccuracy also was a huge factor. But, Minnesota lived to tell about it—and now could be staring at a 2-0 start with FCS New Hampshire next.
Trophy time: It’s not like Iowa needs more motivation to beat arch-rival Iowa State this weekend. But, in case the Hawkeyes do, an empty trophy case where the Cy-Hawk Trophy—given to the winner of the annual rivalry–sits is placed near the Iowa locker room. The trophy is in Ames right now, as the Cyclones won last year’s meeting, 44-41.
For what it is worth, Iowa has won four in a row over Iowa State in Ames.
QB update: When Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase went down with an ankle injury in the opening win over Western Michigan, worry set in for many in the Illini Nation. After he left the game, the offense bogged down. Now, Scheelhaase’s status for this week’s game at Arizona State is up in the air. If he can’t play, what are Illinois’ options?
Reilly O’Toole and Miles Osei have seen their reps increase this week in practice. But O’Toole isn’t a great fit for the spread scheme. And Osei lacks experience, working more as a jack-of-all-trades player in camp. He does have a strong arm. Regardless, the Illini attack would figure to struggle if Scheelhaase can’t play. Whoever is under center, Tim Beckman wants to see more production from the offense.
To that end, Beckman wants to run the ball better and do a better job distributing the ball. Bottom line: I expect Scheelhaase to play in Tempe on Saturday night.
Catching on: Is there a deeper set of receivers in the Big Ten than the collection Nebraska possesses? Maybe not.
Yes, Northwestern has a nice collection and may be on par with the Huskers. But the Cornhuskers may have a slight edge. And this is ideal for the type of attack Tim Beck wants to run. Roll call: Tyler Evans Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Steven Osborne, Tyler Wullenwaber and Taariq Allen. Add it up, and 10 different Cornhuskers—six wideouts–caught passes in the opening win over Southern Miss. And don’t expect the crew to miss a beat with Tim Marlowe out with injury.
TerBush is back: Yes, Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush was suspended for the opener for violating team rules. But, he has been named the starter for the Notre Dame game despite a nice effort from Robert Marve.
It seems the coaches trust TerBush, thinking he’s a safer choice and less likely to make a big mistake. Marve? He can be a bit more erratic and error-prone. But, he also is more likely to make a big play than TerBush. I think I may ride Marve into South Bend, if was the Purdue coach. I don’t think the Boilers are gonna beat the Fighting Irish by playing it safe. Purdue needs to make big plays. And, Marve is more suited for that than TerBush. You just have live with some of his errors and hope none are catastrophic.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: You see, Mike Taylor and Chris Borland are good. Really good. I hope you didn’t need Mike Riley to tell you that.
My take: This UCF-Ohio State could be better than a lot of people think. The Knights are well-coached—and the likely favorites in C-USA. I’m not saying UCF will pull the upset, but this game could go deep into the second half.
My take: Let’s add UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. to those who have a crush on Taylor Martinez. Me, too.
My take: This will be one of the more underrated (and overlooked) aspects of Purdue’s game at Notre Dame this week. Can’t wait to see Short in action vs. these guys.
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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