Thursday's links: Iowa checklist, NU gauntlet & tweets

Pat Harty of HawkCentral.com has 10 things that need to happen for Iowa to avoid another losing season. Hmmm. This should be good.

Item No. 1: A quarterback to emerge.

I’ll stop right there—because, if that doesn’t happen, the other nine items won’t matter.

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The Nebraska defense had its share of issues in 2012. Remember the Big Ten title game? Well, maybe you’d like to forget it. But cornerback play wasn’t one of them last season, for the most part. The unit looks to be even better this fall.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Josh Mitchell form a nice duo that rates among the best in the league. Now, if the front seven can develop some of its young talent, this could be a pretty salty Nebraska defense. Really, it could. That’s why the Huskers are my pick in the Legends.

Speaking of which, here’s a nice AP story on Nebraska and its chances to win the Legends.

As the story points out, the Huskers must learn to better protect the ball. Turnovers were killer in 2012.

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The tight end spot at Michigan State? Well, let’s say it isn’t a strength, as Dion Sims bolted early for the NFL and left a big void. Who’s left? Paul Lang and Andrew Gleichert are fighting it out. Not exactly Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski. MSU tight ends coach Jim Bollman isn’t sure what to expect from the spot. Join the club.

“I think that remains to be seen,” he told MLive.com. “But I can see steady improvement toward what we’re want to get.”

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Ohio State has an Australian punter. And he’s impressing.

Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch wonders if this 21-year-old with no American football experience can do the job for the Buckeyes? When a temporary scholarship crunch caused OSU commitment Johnny Townshend to pick Florida after signing day, the Buckeyes suddenly were in the market for a punter. Enter Johnston, a former Australian Rules Football player who had been working for the previous 18 months at ProKick Australia.

More Buckeyes: Ohio State needs two foes for its 2015 schedule. And, it looks like Louisville won’t be one of them. That’s too bad.

Not long ago, no one would have cared if these teams ever met on the gridiron. Now, we shed a tear about it not happening. Where’s my Kleenex?

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What are Northwestern’s three toughest/most important games? The outstanding gang at Inside Northwestern has the answer: at Nebraska; Michigan; Michigan State. And, guess what: All three pivotal Legends Division clashes come in succession in November.

It’s OK to let out a big sigh, Willie. The schedule overall is Northwestern’s biggest issue in 2013.

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A nice story here by Kelly Parsons of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Minnesota’s Derrick Wells, who began his Gophers career as a corner, moved to safety and is back at corner for 2013. Get all that?

Parsons says returning to cornerback for his junior season, the position for which he was recruited, Wells is confident the Gophers secondary will be even better than it was during the 6-7 season in 2012, one that ended in the team’s first bowl appearance since Wells arrived from Lehigh (Fla.) High School.

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Michigan’s wideout corps is good. But it could be special if redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson steps up, along with sophomore Amara Darboh.

Chesson has added weight and matured. And he knows the tradition of his position in Ann Arbor. And he wants to build on it.

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Purdue needs help at linebacker. A lot of help. Jimmy Herman is doing his part to be a playmaker for the unit.

Defensive coordinator Greg Hudson told me on our visit to W.L. that Herman was the unit’s most athletic player. Here’s hoping he stays healthy.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: His speed could really help the Minnesota offense.

My take: Yet another reason why college football is the most uneven playing field in all of sports. Some schools can afford to do this; others can’t. Imagine if the NFL was like this.

My take: That’s nice, but Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson also need to contribute.

My take: Imagine how Brady Hoke felt. Exactly.

My take: Oh, believe me, I have marked it.

My take: Bravo!

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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