Thursday links: Gophers, Wolverines expect better

Michigan has a big game against Minnesota on Saturday. The Wolverines have had two weeks to prep, two weeks to tweak things and show the world those wins over Akron and UConn weren’t indicative of the type of team this is. One area tweaked: Offensive line. If Michigan had played a game on Wednesday, Brady Hoke says Graham Glasgow would have started at center and Chris Bryant at left guard.

Of course, the Wolverines didn’t play a game on Wednesday. Regardless, it won’t be a shock if each starts at that respective spot on Saturday vs. Minnesota. Something has to be done. The interior of Michigan’s offensive line has struggled quite a bit through the first four games of the regular season, causing Hoke to admit that the team needs better play from its center spot up the middle.

This all isn’t new news. The interior of the line was a consistent issue throughout the 2012 season, as the Wolverines never really found a true replacement for David Molk. This unit needs to develop right now for an attack that ranks ninth in the Big Ten in rushing at 194.2 yards per game.

Minnesota says it expects to play better at Michigan’s Big House this Saturday than in year’s past. We shall see. The last time the Gophers’ shadow darkened Ann Arbor, they got beat 58-0.

Minnesota last won at Michigan in 2005. They also won there in 1986. That’s more recent success than the Gophers have had vs. the Wolverines in Minneapolis, where Minnesota last beat Michigan in 1977.

Gophers fans surely will recall this gut-wrenching loss at home to Michigan in 2003. According to the story, the 38-35 loss left such an indelible mark on Gophers football that several players believe the program would look dramatically different today had the Gophers not squandered a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter by allowing Michigan to score 31 points.

Listen to Brady Hoke’s weekly teleconference here.

Listen to Jerry Kill’s weekly teleconference here.

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Yes, Michigan State has struggled at receiver, running back and quarterback, but the offensive line has played pretty well.

Hey, if you are gonna play well in one area on offense, the line is it.

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Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com has four keys to Penn State winning at Indiana on Saturday. It’s gospel, people. Key No. 1: tackle well in space.

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Fifth-year senior Rob Henry is out at quarterback for Purdue. True freshman Danny Etling is in. Nice to see the Boilermakers coaches be proactive. This season is going nowhere. Why not turn the page and let Etling get some seasoning?

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Pat Harty of HawkCentral.com says Iowa’s Jake Rudock is the program’s best running quarterback since Brad Banks. Is that a compliment for Rudock or an indictment of every Iowa quarterback since Banks? Regardless, Harty thinks Rudock’s wheels have been one of the biggest surprises on the 2013 Hawkeyes.

“I’m not really surprised at his running ability,” center Austin Blythe said. “I know he’s deceivingly fast. He’s got those longs strides. I knew he could potentially run.

“But some of the scrambles that he’s had are just kind of ridiculous. You kind of don’t expect that out of a guy that kind of looks like Jake. He’s just the stereotypical pocket passer if you look at him.”

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Pretty cool time-lapse video from Ohio State of last Saturday night’s Buckeye-Badger game. This three-minute clip captures the splendor of Ohio State’s 31-24 victory.

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Another good podcast from the gang at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. So much to talk about, what with Jake Rudock emerging and Mark Weisman being, well, Mark Weisman. Boy, covering Iowa isn’t so bad now.

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Start your Thursday with a laugh. Watch this video produced by Northwestern. Nice to see NU enjoy the moment and not take itself so seriously.

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Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has missed almost three games, but he thinks he still can get an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony. A big key will be to play well in big games, like he did last week vs. Wisconsin. Miller has another chance to wow voters with a national TV game at Northwestern this Saturday night.

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After going 2-2 in non-conference action, Indiana’s road to bowl eligibility is now appreciably more difficult. IU has to go 4-4 in the Big Ten to get to six wins. IU hasn’t gone 4-4 in the Big Ten since 2001. And the road in October looks treacherous. The Hoosiers play Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan, foes they are 1-23 against since 2002.

The Hoosiers would be helped by better run defense. In losses to Navy (41-35) and Missouri (45-28), the Hoosiers allowed 444 and 280 rushing yards, respectively. IU also needs to run better, too.

In fact, the Indiana run defense could end up being bad in an historical context. Indiana is on pace to allow over 230 yards rushing a game for a third consecutive season. If it happens, it will be the first time in all of Division I-A that any school allowed  more than 230 on the ground for three straight seasons since the 1996-98 Kent State Golden Flashes (268, 262, 311). Kent was 5-28 during that span.

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Michigan State will get a big boost with the return of defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas. Good thing, because the Spartans will need him to slow down the tough, physical Iowa running game. Spartans, meet Mark Weisman.

“We need to be prepared to have the most physical game of the year, there’s no doubt about it,” linebackers coach Mike Tressel. “Whether you’re at their football building or ours, I’m sure we’re both preaching the same thing, that this will be the most physical game of the year. You need to be ready, you take one play off and it can cost you.”

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: These guys have to be the best tacklers on the team.

My take: Hello, Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg!

My take: Yep. That’s true. And the American League pennant also went through Houston, too.

My take: This is gonna be so great.

My take: Interesting.

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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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