Tuesday links: Will Michigan get ground game on track?

The Michigan loss at Penn State has many taking a long, hard look at the Wolverine team. Where exactly is it headed? Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com brings it hard in this story. He says Michigan isn’t tough enough to play the brand of power football that it wants to.

Baumgardner said entering this season, offensive coordinator Al Borges and Brady Hoke believed they had the ingredients to play power football. They believed Devin Gardner was more capable in the pocket, they believed their offensive line was tougher, they believed their running back depth was better.

Well, through six games, they believed wrong. It all came to a head in State College on Saturday night. How anemic was the ground game? Fitz Toussaint ran the ball 27 times for 27 yards. Six games into the season, you have to wonder if Michigan ever will get its ground game on track.

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Iowa goes to Ohio State this Saturday. To say it’ll be a challenge for the Hawkeyes is an understatement. The venerable Horseshoe has been a tough place for Iowa to play at in recent years.

Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register notes that the Hawkeyes beat Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 2, 1991. Since then, the Buckeyes own a 12-1 advantage in the series — winning all six games on their turf by an average margin of 17.3 points. That includes Ohio State’s 27-24 overtime triumph in 2009, which amounted to a Big Ten title game. This time around, some are wondering if Iowa can qualify for a bowl game. But know this: Kirk Ferentz has pulled some stunners while at Iowa: In 2010, Iowa beat No. 5 Michigan State 37-6; In 2009, the Hawks beat No. 5 Penn State, 21-10; In 2008, Iowa toppled the third-ranked Nittany Lions 24-23.

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More Ohio State-BCS title game talk. In this piece from the Columbus Dispatch, we are told that the Big Ten isn’t doing the Buckeyes any favors in their quest to reach the BCS title game.

No argument from me. The Big Ten just isn’t that good, which will do little for Ohio State’s strength of schedule and provide no real chance to impress pollsters with wins of highly-ranked teams. Wait, it gets worse: As this story notes, “there is an unlikely — but not unimaginable — possibility that a one-loss SEC team could jump an undefeated Ohio State or the ACC champion, but we will wait a few more weeks to see how the season shapes up.” Oh, boy.

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Those penalty problems at Michigan State? They are perturbing to Spartan coach Mark Dantonio.

The Spartans were whistled 10 times for 100 penalty yards vs. Indiana last week. That runs their season totals to 45 penalties for 473 yards, making MSU the most penalized team in the Big Ten. Want more? Chris Solari of the Lansing State Journal notes that MSU averages 78.8 penalty yards per game, the fourth-most in the nation, and their 473 yards marked off are the second-most — and those numbers are tempered by getting just two flags for 19 yards against Youngstown State. Two of the Spartans’ last three games have resulted in 100-or-more penalty yards. Shades of the John L. Smith era.

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Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a hard-edge take on the football situation at Minnesota. Souhan perceives a need for a football czar to take over and help guide the Gophers through this tough time. Souhan’s choice: ex-Gophers coach Glen Mason.

Souhan says school president Eric Kaler and A.D. Norwood Teague should admit their shortcomings and hire Mason as their football czar. Maybe Mason becomes the interim head coach. Maybe he becomes the long-term coach. Maybe he becomes the football athletic director. Maybe he becomes a one-man search committee for Kill’s replacement. Souhan thinks the school should leave it up to him, saying Mason is far more qualified to handle any of those jobs than they are.

Man, wouldn’t it be too weird to bring back a coach the school fired to lead it again in some capacity?

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How loud was Penn State’s Beaver Stadium during last Saturday’s white out vs. Michigan? Check it out.

Speaking of Penn State, what’s up with Deion Barnes? A year after Barnes posted a team-high six sacks and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, he has just a half sack through six games and didn’t start on Saturday for the first time this season.

No doubt, Barnes has become a focus of offenses. How will he respond? The great players rise to the challenge.

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How sweet is this? Nebraska has agreed to a series with Oregon. Yes, THAT Oregon.

Nebraska and Oregon will face off in Lincoln on Sept. 17, 2016. The Huskers will then travel to Oregon’s Autzen Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017.

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Purdue coach Darrell Hazell says his team isn’t playing for 2014, despite a massive youth movement that’s taking place.

What else is Hazell gonna say? That he has given up on 2013 just six games into the season? Of course not. Still, let’s be realistic: This team isn’t going anywhere in 2013. It’s OK to say it.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: It was an incredible comeback.

My take: No doubt, chemistry has to be an issue for a unit that has struggled all season.

My take: Good to know about Miller. But how can the OSU offense get more explosive? If it isn’t explosive by now, it probably never will be.

My take: I can tell him if he wants.

My take: Those crazy kids.

My take: One of the best in the Big Ten so far this season.

My take: This is what us in the biz like to call a “youth movement.”

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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2 Comments

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dick patten on 10/15/2013 @ 11:10am EDT Said:

I agree with the comment made here about the Michigan team. I believe they play when they want to play. This team is a total disgrace. They or the coaches are not preparing this team to play like they are capable of. There is something very wrong when a Michigan team plays disgusting vs Akron and then struggles against UConn. No need of it. What is wrong with Devin Gardner, did he rust on the bench not being a quarterback. Maybe he belongs on the offense line. This team needs to wakeup immediately or they will find themselves in Detriot for the bowl season. I am beginning to think Brady Hoke is not the coach they need.

Doug on 10/15/2013 @ 9:50pm EDT Said:

Michigan is a perfect example of why recruiting rankings are a joke !