Tuesday's links: Lunt, Nebraska's new surface & more

Signing Day was months ago, but Illinois apparently has added a gem to its roster in Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt. Count Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette among those who think landing the Rochester, Ill., native is a coup.

Says Asmussen:

“It’s the kind of uptick the program hasn’t experienced since the commitments of Arrelious Benn and Martez Wilson, which ultimately led Ron Zook to the Rose Bowl. Lunt is that good of a quarterback.”

Wow.

NON-SEC THINKING: The great Matt Hayes of Sporting News looks at 10 storylines that don’t involve the SEC.

No. 1: Michigan-Ohio State. I’ll let Hayes take it from here:

“Officially, this rivalry is back. The Buckeyes are coming off a perfect season—um, except for the bowl-ban bit—and have a real shot to go 13-0 and blow off the Rose Bowl for the even bigger biggie five days later in Pasadena. The Wolverines, though, have a dream schedule, with the Notre Dame, Nebraska and OSU games all in Ann Arbor.

What we’re trying to tell you, folks, is that The Game is going to be followed by The Rematch in Indianapolis for the conference title, and that little turn of events is going to be the best thing to happen to the Big Ten in a long time.”

Amen, Brother Hayes. Amen.

MICHIGAN’S YOUTH: The key for Michigan in 2013? How quickly the young players mature.

We’re talking players like interior offensive linemen Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden and Jack Miller, as well as running back Derrick Green. So much good, young talent on Brady Hoke’s roster.

PENN STATE NUMBERS: Bob Flounders of PennLive.com has another edition of Penn State Numerology 101.

Here is one number item:

4: The overall rank of the Big Ten Conference nationally, according to noted college football writer Phil Steele, who expressed his opinion in an ESPN.com Insider post. Conference favorite Ohio State should be able to go toe to toe with almost anyone in the country but after that, who are the second and third-best teams in the conference? Where does PSU fit in this mix? Steele ranks the SEC first, followed by the Big 12 and the Pac-12. The Big Ten is tied for fourth with the ACC. Steele also points out the Big Ten is 2-13 on New Year’s Day in the past three years.

We all know the Big Ten has work to do. As Ohio State and Michigan continue to add talent under two great coaches, I think we’ll see the Big Ten’s fortunes improve on a national level.

NEBRASKA’S NEW SURFACE: New turf is being installed in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2005.

The two buzz words about the surface: lighter and cooler.

ATTENDANCE ISSUES: Attendance at some schools is slipping. In fact, he attendance average for regular-season college football games dropped for the third straight year, with the average mark of 45,274 the lowest since 2003. But Ohio State has no fear of attendance slipping—at least not for now.

GEORGE’S SON ON ILLINI RADAR: Jeff George has a quarterbacking son. And, yes, Illinois has offered him a scholarship.

George fans will recall he began his career at Purdue in 1986 before transferring to Illinois. Well, you know the rest of the story.

MARSHALL TO TRANSFER: Back in May, Penn State’s Jermaine Marshall announced he was leaving school early to pursue a pro career. Now, he apparently has scrubbed those plans and will transfer to another school to play his final season.

What a blow to Penn State. Marshall turning pro was shocking enough; but to see him now opt to play out his career elsewhere is depressing for a Nittany Lions program that looks primed for nice 2013-14.

MICHIGAN NBA TALENT: Michigan has produced better NBA talent since 1989 than Michigan State—so says ESPN.com.

HARRIS BACK AT IT: Michigan State star Gary Harris is working out again after some rest and rehab on a cranky left shoulder that posed some issues during his spectacular debut season.

Harris will be just fine for this loaded Spartans squad.

MORE MSU: Here is a nice interview with Tom Izzo on the Huge Show.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: He’s in all of our thoughts and prayers.

My take: All well-deserved.

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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