Yes, in the Leaders Division, Wisconsin will have to deal with an Ohio State that is loaded and off probation, but the Badgers still will be formidable.
Lots of talent returns, as 16 players who started the Rose Bowl will be back, bolstered by 26 juniors. Some areas to watch: The receivers and tight ends need to become more productive, and the secondary needs to replace three of four starters. Otherwise, this will be a stacked Badgers team.
With an ice bag on his head, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com offers five final observations from Michigan’s stunning Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina.
An obvious one—and most compelling to me–is Michigan’s need for a running back. Thomas Rawls, Fitz Toussaint, Justice Hayes must develop. Making that issue stickier is the fact an offensive line that struggled in 2012 may be without as many as four starters. Maybe that’s a good thing. Regardless, this team has some work to do.
Let’s just say the Nebraska defense—ahem—showed its ugly side in that loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. It was the fourth poor effort of the season for the Husker defense (UCLA, Ohio State and Wisconsin ring a bell, Herbie?). Now, Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star says the Nebraska defense must begin the search for answers and playmakers.
How bad at times was the Husker defense in 2012? Christopherson notes that in Nebraska’s four losses, it surrendered an average of 53.5 points per game – a startling number for such a significant sample size of the season. In their final two games, the Huskers allowed 115 points and 1,228 yards of offense.
All together now: Woof.
The Huskers will count on players like Vincent Valentine, Aaron Curry, Greg McMullen and Avery Moss on the defensive line, and Thomas Brown, Michael Rose, Zaire Anderson and Jared Afalava at linebacker to be impact players sooner rather than later.
Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald gets it, too. He knows Nebraska needs to find a new edge—not just on defense, but overall.
Chatelain wonders without a dominant defense, who is Nebraska? What does it do better than anyone else? How does it stand out? What does it recruit to? These are the questions Chatelain keeps coming back to. Me, too.
Bill Bender of the Sporting News has an interesting solution to the Big Ten’s football woes: Add Texas and Oklahoma.
How bad have things been for the Big Ten? Let Bender count the ways:
- An 11-23 record in bowl games played on or after Jan. 1 since ’06.
- A 4-13 record on or after Jan. 1 the last three seasons, including a 3-7 mark against the SEC.
- A 4-9 record on the field in BCS games since ’06, but Ohio State’s win against Arkansas in the ’11 Sugar Bowl was vacated.
- A 3-9 record in the Rose Bowl since the start of the BCS, including six losses in the last seven years.
No doubt, Texas and OU would help augment this situation. But, I see little shot of the Big Ten pursuing them—nor Texas having ANY inclination of being a “team” player in the Big Ten and giving up its Longhorn Network.
Oh, well. That was a fun two-minute diversion. NEXT!
It looks like Purdue hoops beat writer Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal-Courier is as vexed as all Boilermakers watchers after that stunning win over Illinois.
The great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette? Not so much so. In fact, it turned his stomach.
If you are scoring in Champaign, that’s eight straight victories for the Boilermakers over the Fighting Illini. In fact, Purdue has three winning streaks in the series of that length or longer since the late 1960s. Next up for the not-so-flyin-Illini: a visit from Ohio State. Yes, that Ohio State. Ah, don’t you love a little adversity to test a coach and a team? Nothing like it.
Whatcha got, Johnny Groce? Whatcha got, Brandon Paul? Oh, I’ll be watching.
Who is the fav to win the Big Ten? It’s Michigan—at least that’s what Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press writes.
I will be fascinated to see how the Wolverines perform with a massive target on their back. Winning when you aren’t expected to win is one thing. (See 2011-12) To win when you are expected to win? Well, that’s an entirely different matter. It all begins tonight with a game at pesky and spunky Northwestern.
Keep Michigan State’s Tom Izzo in your thoughts and prayers. Please. His Spartans play 11 games between Jan. 16 and March 3. Of those 11 games, eight will be against ranked teams–all currently ranked No. 11 or higher.
Add it up, and nine of MSU’s 18 Big Ten games will be vs. ranked foes. But, hey, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks, right? And, I think he has plenty of talent on that roster, don’t you?
That Minnesota win over Michigan State on New Year’s Eve was a big one in more ways than one for Goldy, as three of the nation’s top recruits were on hand in the venerable Barn to witness it.
Among them was point guard Tyrus Jones, a local product who can basically pick any school in the nation. Tubby Smith never has reeled in nationally touted class. But, with a terrific season, he may be able to reverse that trend. I hope so.
Speaking of the Golden Gophers, here is what resident Big Ten Bigfoot expert Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune learned from that win over the Spartans. In short, this is a tough team with depth that at times struggles to shoot from long range and from the line. I also can struggle with turnovers. Still, there is a lot to like.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: Why not? The guy is incredible and one of the biggest surprises in college hoops this season.
My take: Well said.
My take: I find this fascinating. But that’s just me.
|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.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.