Big Ten links: Meyer, Pelini go way back
Bo Pelini vs. Urban Meyer. The matchup has juicy possibilities this Saturday night when they square off at Ohio State. And the two have some history. Meyer was a Buckeye graduate assistant coach in 1986-87, which were Pelini’s first two years as an Ohio State defensive back. The two also have met three times as coaches, from 2005-07, when Pelini was LSU defensive coordinator and Meyer was Florida head coach. And Pelini’s teams went 3-1 against Meyer’s teams.
Bad streaks: The Tim Beckman era at Illinois hasn’t gotten off to a great start. In fact, he seems to be fighting a culture of negativity, according to Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal.
Blowout home loss to Louisiana Tech (52-24) and Penn State (35-7) will do that. And, according to Baggot, since winning its last Big Ten crown in 2001, Illinois has had six seasons in which it had losing streaks of five games or longer: 10 in 2003; six in ’04, nine in ’05, seven in ’06, five in ’09 and six in 2011. For perspective, Wisconsin hasn’t had a losing streak of five games or longer since 1991, when it lost six in a row. Illinois has lost two in a row and plays at Wisconsin Saturday.
Building blocks: That offensive line that used to be a stumbling block for Ohio State? It isn’t any more, according to Urban Meyer.
The group showed its grit and ability by draining the clock on the final drive of the game last week at Michigan State, which has perhaps the top front seven in the Big Ten. Not bad for a group that has three players at new position (right tackle Reid Fragel, left tackle Jack Mewhort; left guard Andrew Norwell) and two players starting for the first time (right guard Marcus Hall and center Corey Linsley).
It simmers on: The flap over Michigan State’s accusation that Ohio State didn’t send proper film to it prior to their meeting last week won’t die. Nothing will come of it, though Ohio State coach Urban Meyer now has been involved in a couple “incidents” since taking over the Buckeyes, with the other dating to February during recruiting season when Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio got hot when Ohio State “flipped” some of their commitments.
Hands on: Those picks that Minnesota quarterback Max Shortell threw at Iowa? They weren’t all his fault. The receivers must take some of the blame, says Gophers coach Jerry Kill. That is true. And so is this: Minnesota needs MarQueis Gray back. Now.
Give Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges credit for trying. During the off week, he went through every Wolverine play this season, searching for an answer to why his attack has struggled on the road.
In 2011-2012, Michigan has averaged 20.9 points on the road; at home, it has averaged 40.1. And, no shock here: Each of the four losses of the Brady Hoke area have been outside the Ann Arbor area code. Why the road struggles? Turnovers, play-calling, spotty run game are among key reasons. Stay tuned. This is a work in progress that will get a nice test vs. a good Purdue defense.
Falling short: The great Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com has his list of Top 10 disappointments of the first month of the season. And, yes, there are some Big Ten entries. I’m looking at you, Michigan and Wisconsin offenses.
Rally cry: It’s true that Penn State can’t play in a bowl or win the Big Ten because of probation, but it can play the role of spoiler.
In fact, this could be one of the most surprising and resilient teams in school annals if it builds on this three-game winning streak. The Nittany Lions are coming on after an 0-2 start; and Penn State and Ohio State (which also is on probation) look like they may be the two best teams in the Leaders Division. That could mean the third-place finisher in the division may end up representing the division in the conference title game. Are you listening, Wisconsin and Purdue?
Tighten up: When it comes to critics, Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen is his own worst one.
The big issue: blocking. He’s not doing a good job of it, which in turn is impacting his pass-catching skills. According to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, through five games last season, Pedersen had 14 catches for 224 yards, 16.0 yards per catch, and four touchdowns. Through five games this season, Pedersen has nine catches for 95 yards, 10.6 yards per catch, and one touchdown. Uh, not good.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: So, it has come to this.
My take: In other news, water is wet.
My take: This isn’t good for a Spartan offense that has had issues. The line was thought to be a strength entering the season. Now?
My take: You have to admire Robert Marve’s grit. Having him be an option only will enhance an offense that can use more playmakers. Here’s hoping he stays healthy.
|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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