Tuesday's links: Michigan-ND rivalry, Illini's slate & more

The back and forth between Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly is great. To review, Kelly recently said Michigan isn’t a “historic, traditional” rival for the Irish. Hoke disagrees. I do, too.

Michigan and Notre Dame have played 40 games since 1887. From a numbers standpoint, that game is below USC, Navy, Michigan State and Purdue when it comes to traditional rivalry tilts, notes Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com. Still, this is a special rivalry between two of college football’s most iconic programs. The current incarnation of the series began in 1978. Since then, the schools have met 29 times in the last 35 years. That’s some heft.

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Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register says it’s back to basics for the Hawkeyes. There already were modest expectations for Iowa coming off a 4-8 season. Now, coming off a tough home loss to Northern Illinois to open the season, Iowa’s losing skid stands at seven games. What should we expect from this team in 2013?

I think there is plenty to build on for the Hawkeyes, especially for an offense that looks like it has come to life under quarterback Jake Rudock. They may just yet reach the postseason.

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Good to see Michigan freshman running back Derrick Green move up the depth chart to No. 2 behind Fitz Toussaint.

Green came to camp out of shape but is looking good now. How good is he gonna be?

“He ran the ball pretty well,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday afternoon. “I thought, Fred (Jackson) thought and Al (Borges) thought he did a nice job on the carries he had.”

Green’s movement up the depth chart is in part due to a season-ending injury to redshirt freshman running back Drake Johnson. Johnson — who earned the No. 2 job in fall camp — tore an ACL covering a kickoff during the second half. Still, it likely was just a matter of time before Green—considered by some to be the nation’s No. 1 prep running back last season–ascended.

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When San Diego State rolls into Ohio State, the Buckeyes will have a beefier roster that they did in the opener with CB Bradley Roby (suspension), S C.J. Barnett (injury), RB Rod Smith (suspension) and C Corey Linsley (injury) back.

But, honestly, OSU probably could have handled SDSU without that quarter. This is an Aztecs team that lost its opener at home to … FCS Eastern Illinois, 40-19.

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Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald says stumbling out of the gate is far from B1G for the Big Ten.

It seems Barfknecht wasn’t impressed by the Big Ten’s debut. And, he has a point. After a down year for the Big Ten in 2012, this was the alleged first season toward a revival of improved performance. Barfknecht says that what league members rolled out to begin the season wasn’t a good overall first impression.

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No time for Illinois to celebrate its opening win. And I mean NO time.

The Illini play host to Cincinnati Saturday after the Bearcats crushed Purdue last Saturday. Then, Illinois gets Washington in Soldier Field in Chicago; in case you missed it, the Huskies smashed Boise State in their opener.

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You hate to call the second game of a season “huge.” But, that’s exactly what Navy’s visit to Indiana is this Saturday. It’s “huge.” The Hoosiers lost a one-point decision at Navy last season. This is a game IU needs if it wants to reach its first bowl since 2007. And, it’s a game the Hoosiers have been prepping for since the spring, as Navy’s triple-option attack can be confounding.

Well, here, listen to Indiana coach Kevin Wilson:

“In my opinion, this is the most difficult team we play,” Wilson said Monday. “The reason being, everything we do defensively, throw it away and don’t do it again.”

Who scheduled this game?

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Bob Flounders of PennLive.com has some Numerology 101 for the Nittany Lions following their opening win over Syracuse.

This number is most interesting to me:

13: Consecutive third-down opportunities the Penn State offense failed to convert against Syracuse. Overall, the Lions were a dreadful 1 for 16. The Lions misfired on a third-and-1 and a third-and-2 on their opening drive before quarterback Christian Hackenberg and wide receiver Matt Zanellato teamed up on a three-yard completion on a third-and-1 on the next possession to produce the Lions’ lone third-down conversion. After that? Thirteen attempts, zero conversions.

You know Bill O’Brien will figure this out.

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Hey, Wisconsin fan: There is a change in the Badgers’ football program that you might not have seen Saturday during the Badgers’ opener with UMass. Defensive end Ethan Hemer tells you in this video.

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Here is a candidate for “understatement of the year:” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio says more explosive plays are needed by the Spartan offense.

Sound familiar? It should. That often was the refrain last season, when the attack struggled for consistency during a 7-6 season. It will be fascinating to see how this offense unfolds in East Lansing.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Haters like to hate.

My take: Let’s see if they do any better.

My take: Fast AND tough. Have to like it.

My take: Can Michigan take advantage with its personnel?

My take: Interesting take. I don’t necessarily agree. But, interesting take.

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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