Big Ten Links: Here comes the noise
The Nittany Lions have outscored foes, 66-0, in the first quarter this season. Out of a maximum of 105 first-quarter minutes, the Lions have controlled the ball for 68 minutes and 43 seconds. That’s an average of nearly 10 of the first 15 minutes of each game. Through eight games, Ohio State has been outscored by opponents, 56-51, during the first quarter. You thinking what I’m thinking?
Traveler’s tips: Nick Baumgarnder and Kyle Meinke of MLive.com wonder if Michigan has solved its road game blues.
The last three times the Wolverines have had to play in a loud and crazy stadium, they have lost—Michigan State, Iowa and Notre Dame. This week, Michigan is at Nebraska. And it will be really loud. The Huskers are 4-0 at home this season and are averaging 48.5 points. The common theme in the Michigan road losses—bad starts. So, keep an eye on the first quarter, Wolverine fans. It could tell the tale of the game.
High-octane games: Ohio State announced a two-game series with Oregon in 2020-2021. This is a beautiful thing. I just hope Chip Kelly is still the Ducks coach then. And I wonder what Oregon’s uniforms will look like then? Perhaps they will have jet packs by then.
QB question: Pat Harty of the Iowa City Press-Citizen wonders what Kirk Ferentz’s decision-making process is in continuing to play struggling James Vandenberg. Perhaps Ferentz hasn’t made a move because the backup Hawkeye quarterbacks aren’t a better option.
Vandenberg is the No. 12-rated passer in the Big Ten. He even has admitted that he could “see an argument” for replacing himself. But the fact it hasn’t happened has to make you wonder about the quality of the backup signal-callers. Jake Rudock is the No. 2 man. The other quarterbacks junior-college transfer Cody Sokol and true freshman C.J. Beathard are expected to redshirt. So, is Rudock not far enough along to at least get a shot? Apparently not.
Omission impossible: I’m still trying to figure out how Wisconsin linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland were omitted from a recent list of Butkus Award candidates.
Taylor ranks second in the conference in tackles, averaging 10.5 per game, and is first in tackles for loss with 10. Borland is eighth in the conference in tackles (8.4 per game), fourth in sacks (4.5), tied for third in tackles for loss (8.5) and tied for fifth in fumble recoveries (two).
Four Big Ten players made the recent Butkus list: Penn State’s Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, Michigan State’s Max Bullough and Illinois’ Jonathan Brown. That is good, but Taylor and Borland also belong.
Go for it: Minnesota coach Jerry Kill doesn’t care what bowl the Gophers go to. He just wants to go bowling.
Minnesota hasn’t been to a bowl since 2009. And it has four wins now, needing two more to qualify. The rest of the schedule is tough, making this week’s visit from slumping Purdue a must-win of sorts as the Boilermakers are winless in the Big Ten. A game also looms at Illinois, another team that is winless in the Big Ten.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: I think he merits worry—a lot of worry. Maybe all of your worry.
My take: Yet two more reasons why I like Penn State in this game.
My take: Steak or lobster? Lobster or steak?
|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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