Friday links: New QB faces & a penny defense?

Happy Friday, Big Ten Nation! Game day almost is here. Don’t you love those words? Sure you do! Let’s start here with daily links. The last two seasons, Michigan has had issues with turnovers in its first road game. How bad has it been? Michigan has 16 turnovers in five recent road losses. Will those issues persist with this year’s maiden voyage away Ann Arbor, at UConn this Saturday?

Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from a turnover standpoint. But, I have to think Devin Gardner has more than a modicum of self-doubt in his mind after last week, when he had three picks and a lost fumble. Gardner already has tossed six picks. That’s a 24-interception pace.

With Taylor Martinez dealing with a toe injury that makes him “doubtful,” according to Bo Pelini, there’s a chance Tommy Armstrong my start Saturday vs. South Dakota State.

“If we were to start today, we’d probably start with Tommy Armstrong,” Pelini said. “But you’ll see (senior) Ronnie Kellogg. We want to make sure we look at this practice film — I haven’t visited with (offensive coordinator) Tim (Beck) since practice has been over — but that’s kind of the way we’ve been leaning going into today.”

It likely won’t matter who starts. I think this is gonna be a hungry and motivated Huskers team that’s coming off a trying week.

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Minnesota signal-caller Mitch Leidner can run. But, we all know what frequently happens to running quarterbacks—they get hurt.

But, Minnesota’s read-option attack requires its signal-callers to run. So, the Gophers have to live with the peril. Philip Nelson already has gone down and will miss Saturday’s game with injury, giving Leidner—who coaches have compared to former K-State quarterback Collin Klein–the start. I can’t wait to see what he does.

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During the Cal game, Ohio State used a “penny” defense. And, it was effective. Expect the Buckeyes to use the scheme when facing spread teams in the future. What’s a “penny” defense? One with seven defensive backs. Nice innovation by the Buckeyes coaches!

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Is Brady Hoke rooting for Michigan State to beat Notre Dame? Of course, silly. Hoke doesn’t like the Spartans, but he’s still a Big Ten guy.

Speaking of Michigan State-Notre Dame, the future of the Spartans’ series with the Fighting Irish is murky—just like the ND-Michigan and ND-Purdue series.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the plan is to continue, though the deal that runs through 2031 may have to be adjusted. The Spartans and Irish are contracted to play on a “four on, two off” rotation until then, with the first two-year break coming in 2014-15. The issue: Notre Dame will start to play five ACC games starting next season, complicating its scheduling. Just what the world wants: ND vs. N.C. State, Wake Forest, Pitt, Syracuse instead of ND-Michigan and ND-Michigan State. It’s sad, isn’t it?

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Tough game last week at Arizona State for Wisconsin true freshman corner Sojourn Shelton, who was called for holding and two pass interference penalties in a 32-30 loss.

“I just saw a kid (that was) too aggressive, just needed to play the game I’ve been playing that got me to the position I’m in,” Shelton said. “I just needed to calm down, just stick to what got (me) here.”

Still, the kid is gonna be good and will grow from this. And, he can take heart knowing he won’t likely see a better passing attack all season.

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So Michigan’s athletic department REALLY paid between $3,000 and 5,000 for some boastful skywriting above Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium and in Ann Arbor?

Wow. Just, wow.

“We hired the skywriters to canvas southeast Michigan with slogans and numbers prior to our game last Saturday,” a Michigan spokesman said in a statement. “There were no locations targeted.”

Here’s a wad of cash. Just skywrite these messages wherever you want. Ya, right.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: he kid looked good in spring ball. Just what Nebraska needs, another option at wideout. Loaded.

My take: So there is that.

My take: This is funny. And kinda sad.

My take: Can’t wait for that day. The Big Ten needs a strong and robust Penn State.

My take: Still, I’m telling Goldy to be careful.

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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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