Dienhart: What I learned in Week 13

There is an opportunity to learn each Saturday. And I took advantage of it. Among other things, I learned deciding who will be Big Ten coach of the year may be a difficult thing to figure out. Here’s what else I learned on the final Saturday of the regular season.

1. Ohio State capped a 12-0 season with a methodical 26-21 win over Michigan. And some wonder if the Buckeyes could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of national elite squads Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Oregon. I say “yes.” It’s true, Ohio State isn’t a dominant team, rarely blowing out opponents. And the Buckeyes didn’t play a daunting schedule. But show me a dominating team. I don’t think there is one in the nation. Bottom line: I think Ohio State could play with—and beat—any team in the nation. Too bad it’s on probation.

[RELATED: Dienhart: Time to think “What if?” with Ohio State]

2. It is an interesting discussion when it comes to Big Ten coach of the year honors. A great case can be made for Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record overall and a 6-2 league mark. After an 0-2 start, Penn State went 8-2 with losses to Ohio State and at Nebraska, the top two teams in the Big Ten. And how about Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who forged a 12-0 mark in his debut season in Columbus? An argument also can be made for Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, who led the Cornhuskers to a 10-2 record and Legends Division crown when most picked Michigan or Michigan State to win the division. Tough, tough choice.

[RELATED: Bill O’Brien lets out “Holy Schnikes!” in postgame presser]

3. Northwestern finished the regular season with a strong 9-3mark. And in all three losses, the Wildcats blew a second-half lead in falling. Northwestern fell 39-28 at Penn State (28-17 lead); 29-28 to Nebraska (28-16 lead); 38-31 in overtime to Michigan (24-14 lead). Just think of what this season could have been in Evanston. Still, Pat Fitzgerald did a great job.

[RELATED: View the latest Big Ten football standings]

4. Wisconsin won’t be rolling into Indianapolis with a lot of mojo. The Badgers have lost their last two games—and three of their last four. And all three of the defeats have come in overtime, 16-13 to Michigan State; 21-14 to Ohio State; 24-21 at Penn State. Wisconsin will bring a 7-5 mark to the Big Ten championship game to play Nebraska, which downed the Badgers 30-27 back on Sept. 29 in Lincoln. Still, Wisconsin can undo this slow finish with a win in Indy to make it to a third consecutive Rose Bowl. The last Big Ten team to do that was Michigan after the 1976-78 seasons.

[RELATED: See who took home Week 13 Big Ten Game Balls]

5. Gotta give credit to Michigan State and Purdue for delivering when their backs were against the wall. Each needed to win on Saturday to become bowl eligible. And the Spartans and Boilermakers each came through, as Michigan State won at Minnesota, 26-10, and Purdue downed Indiana, 56-35. It will be the Spartans’ sixth bowl in succession and the Boilers’ second. But the future of Purdue coach Danny Hopes looks to be up in the air. Stay tuned.

[RELATED: How did we do? Week 13 Big Ten picks revisited]

About Tom Dienhart 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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8 Comments

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Doug on 11/25/2012 @ 11:26am EST Said:

I learned that Michigan still hasn’t beat a good team under 2 years with Brady Hoke, esp. on the road.

Stephen on 11/25/2012 @ 1:16pm EST Said:

Doug, I think they actually have a much better team today than they did to open the season. That second QB really makes the offense more balanced with his passing and surprisingly good decision making. D. Robinson should continue to be what he will be in the NFL. That is an offensive wild card and also a kick returner. As a Northwestern fan,I think Nebraska got away with one. After that game the rest of the B1G had to play a much different (better) team than they did.

Doug on 11/25/2012 @ 7:20pm EST Said:

Hard to say Stephen, Garnder put up his numbers against really bad defenses, he looked confused vs OSU. As for D-Rob, yeah he’ll be special teams, sure won’t be QB.

Jeff in Nebraska on 11/25/2012 @ 9:47pm EST Said:

A thought the B10 has 3 legit Heisman Trophy canidate Nebraska Taylor Martinez Msu L Bell and Wisconsin M Ball are legit contenders I exclude B Miller because seoson over. Yes there are many players to choose from conference. Also with Psu ( Robinson)player as well. Probation hurts a lot but ever who wins the B10 title sure has a beef for the Heisman for especially if they are the main reason of winning it. Others Bama McCarron Ou Landry Oregon Barber ND Me’Teo Ksu Klein Georgia Murray Aggies Johnny football Wvu T Austin Baylor Florence TT Doege Usc Lee to name a few but heck there is no clear winner

Jeff in Nebraska on 11/25/2012 @ 10:02pm EST Said:

Wow B10 want to keep rewarding teams/ players and coaches that’s are on Probation or sanction ( I understand that they are not the reason why) but they are,k? If you keep doing that (rewarding)then don’t put them on probation uderstand? Its not fair to the other schools that do things right. If Nebraska win title it should be Bo Pelini of Nebraska. Osu Wisc was pic to win leaders and Mich Msu the legends so actually Bo should be coach of the year regardless ?

Bbbudus on 11/26/2012 @ 12:39am EST Said:

Eeek Jeff! I realize this is just a blog, but some complete sentences and a few correctly spelled words would be fantastic. As I am also a Husker fan, I think that Bo needs to show up at Indy to have any consideration as COY. On the other hand…Martinez, as the B1G total offense leader, and leader of a non probationary team should get the nod. That would be the one bit that you and I can agree on. If you are on probation by the NCAA, you should not be eligible for ANY post-season awards…team, individual or otherwise.

mike on 11/26/2012 @ 9:16pm EST Said:

I am an Ohio State fan and I do agree with you about the probation. But would Bo really want the award if say Urban was the strong favorite for it. I see it like this I wouldn’t want someone handing me an award and saying well since this guy can’t get it may as well give it to you. With that said he is a good coach and I know his kids would have loved another shot at the Buckeyes

Jeff in Nebraska on 11/27/2012 @ 12:03am EST Said:

Its nice to get awards because the person earned it with hard work and winning. Nebraska got 4 All B10 I believe (now) but there are other players too. Bo just got to go finish in Title game Saturday and the Rose Bowl against Stanford or maybe another rematch with Ucla.Nebraska will be lookin to contend for National Title in years to come. Big Red Nation is Hungry Fact: Nebraska lost 2 Rose Bowls Miami 2001 Stanford Indians in 1941. Also Cornhuskers has the top pass defense in the nation now