Tuesday's links: Ireland trip, Devin Gardner & more

Typically, a team will go only as far as its quarterback takes it. Well, listen up, Nebraska fans: Sam McKewon of Omaha.com has ranked the Huskers’ quarterback opponents. This is a fun exercise that you may want to do with your favorite team, as it may give you a good idea on how many victories to expect.

McKewon’s ranking:

1. UCLA
2. Northwestern
3. Wyoming
4. Michigan
5. Penn State
6. Illinois
7. Michigan State
8. Purdue
9. South Dakota State
10. Minnesota
11. Iowa
12. Southern Mississippi

Lots of great analysis about it here.

That visit from UCLA and QB Brett Hundley is huge. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

YOUR MICHIGAN STARTERS: The season is still over a month away, but here is one scribe’s projected starters—in slide show fashion–for Michigan. Personally, I can’t wait to see the young receivers like Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh.

MORE WOLVERINES: Many anticipate a big season for Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner. And, he took a step toward improvement by scoring mostly high marks at the Manning Passing Academy.

“Gardner is 6-4, he’s 210 pounds, he’s got a buggy whip for an arm, he’s highly athletic,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told NFL AM . “He’s raw as can be, but trust me — he’s a redshirt junior, and this kid’s got some ability. I’m really anxious to watch him develop this year.”

FOOTBALL IN IRELAND: Turns out Ireland wanted to play host to an NFL game. But, instead, it will get the Penn State-UCF game in 2014.

Ireland’s prominent sporting website thescore.ie admits that they want to see the NFL played in the Emerald Isle but a college football game with Penn State is “more than a consolation.”

TALKING HAWKEYES: The “On Iowa” podcast with Marc Morehouse and Scott Dochterman returns after a three-week hiatus with a breakdown of Iowa’s six football opponents for the 2012 football season. Good stuff, as usual, from two of the best in the business.

HERNANDEZ UPDATE: Oh, and in case you were wondering: Iowa A.D. Gary Barta says there are no issues concerning G.A. D.J. Hernandez coaching with the program.

“D.J. hasn’t done anything wrong, as far as I know,” Barta said. “So, yes, I’m 100 percent behind D.J.”

Hernandez’s younger brother, ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, was charged with first-degree murder last month. D.J. Hernandez will coach Iowa’s tight ends this season.

But I have to wonder: Would any school have hired D.J. Hernandez if Aaron had been arrested before the hiring process? I can’t imagine any school would want any connection to one of the most notorious cases in sports history. But, perhaps I am wrong.

PREVIEWING MSU-MICHIGAN: Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal has been taking a spin through Michigan State’s schedule game-by-game. He’s up to game No. 9: Michigan.

Can the Spartans make it five of six vs. the Wolverines? MSU won’t have a chance unless it can score at least three touchdowns.

PITINO TYPING AWAY: Attention, bloggers! Minnesota coach Richard Pitino has joined the blogosphere.

This is big news for Gophers fans when you consider Pitino’s predecessor, Tubby Smith, rarely tweeted. And Gophers football coach Jerry Kill doesn’t have a Twitter account.

“It was totally his idea,” Gophers basketball spokesman Matt Slieter told TwinCities.com. “I love it, too. It’s another way for fans to hear from the head coach. I don’t know how often he’ll blog, but he’ll blog a lot more during the offseason.”

Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague also has made some waves by thinking big. Teague, now in his second year on the job, has a plan where he hopes to raise $190 million for Gophers facilities, one that would make the school’s athletic facilities go from among the worst in the Big Ten to the best.

I knew I was gonna like this guy. He thinks big.

APPLING’S VALUE: Tom Izzo recently told SI that he thinks that Keith Appling is a much, much better point guard.

He’s gonna have to be if the Spartan are going to be as good as many people think they can be. Diamond Leung of MLive.com points out that Appling led the team in scoring last season, averaging 13.4 points to go along with 3.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds. After the season, Izzo said Appling asked for an evaluation of his NBA draft stock. Appling focused on improving his shot in the offseason before his junior year and improved his 3-point shooting percentage to 32 percent after slumping at 25 percent one year earlier. He needs to continue to shoot better. Stay tuned.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: This is great news for a Nittany Lions hoop program that has a chance to surprise next season.

My take: This, of course, is perfect.

My take: Feel free to scratch your head. Ah, the beauty of watch lists.

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.

Find out more about:

1 Comment

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (1 Comment)
Maria O'Brien on 7/16/2013 @ 1:23pm EST Said:

so excited about the Penn State-UCF game in Dublin, cant wait! I’m always trying to get friend to watch NFL games with me (with little success) – Br great if the game became more popular in Ireland