Friday links: Battle looms for Badgers, Buckeyes

Breathe in. Breathe out. Smell that? It’s football. Beautiful, isn’t it? We are one day closer to the big Wisconsin at Ohio State game. This game will have big implications on many fronts: the Leaders Division, the Big Ten race and the national title chase. Having gone to the last three Rose Bowls, the Badgers have what the Buckeyes want: Big Ten supremacy. Let’s start Friday’s links with this: Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if the Badger defense has what it takes to slow the Buckeyes.

No doubt, it does. But the Wisconsin defense will be challenged. I think the front seven has a shot for success. In fact, this is one of the best front sevens in the Big Ten. Still, it doesn’t look like many analysts have faith in the Badgers’ ability to win in Columbus for the first time since 2004.

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Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com has three things he likes about Penn State, and three things that can be improved.

At the top of the list of things to like: The development of Christian Hackenberg. No brainer, right? The biggest thing to fix—in my mind–is tightening a defense that looked bad in that Central Florida loss.

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Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges says everything that has gone wrong can be fixed.

We shall see.

“Our quarterback’s a very talented kid who has to grow in the position a little bit, he’s still learning as he goes,” Borges said.

“There’s so many things, it’s never one guy. Everybody wants to pin it on the quarterback. But we’ve had more than 100 yards in rushing called back on penalties, that’s got to stop. … We’re putting ourselves in so many bad down and distances at times, (it’s tough to get out of).”

Good stuff here from the Wolverine.com on Michigan, including real and imagined areas of concern. As the piece points out, the defensive line is an issue. How many times in the last month have I typed that? My guess: If the d-line isn’t playing a high level now, it probably won’t all season.

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The gang at Inside Northwestern had a debate on who is the best team in the Legends Division.

Talent wise, I think Michigan is the best. Schedule/talent wise, I think Nebraska will win it.

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Joel Hale isn’t a big name on Ohio State’s defense. But he has emerged as a leader. Nice story here by Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch on the unsung trench dweller.

Rabinowitz says the Buckeyes have counted on Hale to emerge as a stout force against the run and a leader on a defensive line replacing that has four new starters. Nice job by a guy who has little hype compared to some of his teammates up front.

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Nice, fun piece by Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register, as he plays a bit of word association with each Big Ten team.

His word to describe Iowa? Evolving. My word on that: perfect.

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With Taylor Martinez out with a toe injury last week, Tommy Armstrong got some time at quarterback. And, it was easy to see why so many fans have been excited about his skills and possibilities.

Look who wants out of a two-game series in 2016-17 with Michigan State: Alabama. Apparently, Bama has concern about the uncertainty of the future SEC schedule. Could the league be moving toward a nine-game league slate?

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

It is a sad day.

I’m not sure where all of this will end. But my guess: The massive universities and their lawyers will prevail.

The Horseshoe is gonna look like a SEC venue!

OK, but just this once.

Surprised it took that long.

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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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1 Comment

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shookwriter27 on 9/27/2013 @ 1:44pm EDT Said:

This should be a really good game.