Web links: QB battles, Ferentz's optimism & tweets

Indiana is one of two Big Ten teams that opens the season on Thursday (Minnesota is the other). And, it could be a big season in Bloomington. How big?  Well, it’s bowl game or bust for Indiana—so says, Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz.

I like the Hoosiers’ chances to reach just their second bowl since 1993. This offense will be among the best in the Big Ten. And the defense could be better. Like the young talent, especially up front.

***

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has no plans to reveal his starting quarterback until game time on Saturday.

Fair enough. But I just don’t see the need for such secrecy. I know he worked under Bill Belichick. But style-wise, there really is no difference between Christian Hackenberg and Tyler Ferguson. So, it’s not like Syracuse is having to prep for different type of signal-callers. Anyway …

***

Nice look from the great Rachel Lenzi of the Toledo Blade at Michigan’s new offense, which is actually its old offense.

The last remnants of the Rich Rodriguez era have been expunged. Michigan finally looks like Michigan again for the first time since 2007. Hard to believe.

***

Nice video here of Andrew Maxwell, who was named Michigan State’s starting quarterback.

Connor Cook also will play in the Spartans’ Friday opener. And, the competition between the duo is far from over, says Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal.

Of course, whoever doesn’t play at all—Damion Terry and/or Tyler O’Connor–suddenly will become the most popular guy on campus.

Quarterback wasn’t the only major unresolved spot on the MSU roster. Running back was, too. And Jeremy Langford earned the starting nod—for now.

It’s still a crowded backfield in East Lansing. as Riley Bullough, Nick Hill, Delton Williams and Gerald Holmes, Jr., also are possibilities. Got all of that?

***

Stewart Mandel of SI.com his bowl projections out. And he has Alabama playing Stanford in the BCS title game. Really. He does. This actually would be kinda cool.

The Rose Bowl? It’s Ohio State-Oregon. OK. I’m done.

***

The great Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch thinks back-to-back unbeaten seasons are possible for the Ohio State.

Yes, but it will be a difficult task. As Oller points out, only eight FBS teams ever have managed such a feat — a startling and sobering statistic that places even greater pressure on Ohio State, which will begin the tightrope walk on Saturday against Buffalo. The Buckeyes — having gone 12-0 in 2012 — are the lone FBS team with a chance to go undefeated again. They have the talent … they have the schedule … but Ohio State doesn’t have history on its side. The last team to go back-to-back unbeaten? Nebraska in 1994-95.

***

We all know the Nebraska defense has a lot to prove. Here’s Cornhusker defensive coordinator John Papuchis breaking down the squad.

Nice to see big tackle Vincent Valentine earned a starting spot. So, here’s how the Nebraska defense may line up vs. Wyoming in the opener, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.

  • DL: Ankrah-Randle-Valentine-Moss OR Gregory
  • MLB: Santos
  • Nickel: Evans
  • Dime: Seisay/Gerry/Anderson
  • Corners: Mitchell and Jean-Baptiste
  • Safeties: Cooper OR Harvey Jackson OR Green. Two of the three.

***

Up is down. Down is up. So, naturally, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz seems more optimistic about his team than the fans are. It’s true. It’s all right here.

Hey, how else do you expect Ferentz to react, given the massive negativity surrounding this team? Exactly. Maybe Iowa will build on these negative vibes. Hey, it’s a thought—and a possibility.

***

How did the Purdue offensive line try to build cohesion and chemistry this summer? They went canoeing, of course.

Have you ever tried to canoe with someone who wasn’t doing their job? Yes, it’s difficult.

***

OK, Illinois fans: Here is one last view of your team before kickoff. Steve Greenberg of the SunTimes.com thinks the Fighting Illini will build on last year’s two-win total. No bowl, but, hey, it’s a start.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Who will it be? My guess is Tre Roberson. He can make something out of nothing better than Cam Coffman and Nathan Sudfeld. Plus, Roberson passes better than you think.

My take: This is a surprise.

My take: Dunno. I always have heard the best teams are led from within.

My take: It’s a mystery. Maybe he’s trying to keep Tyler Ferguson happy and engaged.

My take: Yes, it seems like this thing is still wide open. Stay tuned.

My take: Who will emerge? Derrick Green?

My take: I think the kid is gonna be special.

My take: What’s next? Selling programs?

My take: Can a team have TOO many captains? I think so.

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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