Friday links: Meyer hands out OSU report card

Happy Football Friday! Let’s not waste any time, OK? Let’s dig right into some of the Big Ten news that’s making ripples from Lincoln to State College—and all points in between. This caught my attention: Urban Meyer offers a midterm report card for his 6-0 team. There obviously are many areas that get good marks. The areas of concern?

“The alarming areas are pass defense, our return game has not been what we thought it would be and we still have to improve the intermediate and short passing game,” Meyer said.”

Speaking of Ohio State, Braxton Miller says he wasn’t fully himself for the Northwestern game. I guess that explains the three turnovers. He better be ready for Iowa. The Hawkeyes can play defense.

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The great Mike Griffith of Mlive.com says Michigan State’s offense looks to get greedy vs. Purdue. Why not? It’s a great chance for the surging Spartan offense to gain more confidence vs. a struggling Boilermaker defense.

“We want to be greedy and not satisfied with where we’re at,” Spartan OC Dave Warner said on BTN Live. “As we evaluate what we did Saturday (in a 42-28 win over Indiana), we felt we took a step in the right direction.

“But you look at six or eight plays in the game, we want to make sure we’re finishing our blocks downfield, whether that be the offensive line or wide receiver position. If we execute, we’re turning 10- 12-yard plays into big plays.”

How good is this MSU team? Dunno. But I do know this: The Spartans are still ascending.

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This is pretty cool: Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland has been given long field goal duty for the Badgers. I knew Borland was versatile, but, wow.

But Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal notes that the idea of using Borland, who does most of his kicking on the side, while goofing around, shows how messed up UW’s kicking situation has become.

Kyle French lost the job after badly missing a 38-yard attempt against Northwestern last week. It was his second miss in three attempts. The other miss was a crucial 32-yarder against Ohio State, leaving him 5-for-8 on the season. Jack Russell has missed his only attempt of the season, a 31-yarder in the second game against Tennessee Tech. He is 0-for-3 in his career, having missed both attempts last season.

So, just like that, the Big Ten’s best linebacker is now a viable kicking option. I just pray he gets a shot to kick one Saturday at Champaign.

Good news: Michigan announced a two-year series with UCLA. Bad news: It won’t start until 2022. Isn’t it ridiculous to schedule games this far out? Sure it is.

More Michigan: The Wolverines say their first loss of the year isn’t a cause to panic. This is what they call “whistling past the graveyard.”

Rachel Lenzi notes that win vs. Indiana would soothe UM’s psyche. And it could put to rest some of the white noise that’s seemed to have gotten louder — and darker — as the season has progressed. The Wolverines squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter at Penn State, which got trounced a week prior at Indiana. They lost a four-overtime game that became one of the weekend’s most publicized, and lost in one of college football’s highest-profile venues. Their road woes in three seasons under Brady Hoke have been well documented. Furthermore, they lost their first game this season in stunning fashion.

Long story short—there is lots of hand-wringing going on in Ann Arbor. And rightly so.

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This is a bit amazing: Iowa is 3-0 in its last three games vs. Top-5 teams. Ohio State plays No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday. Interesting. See the parallel? Ah, forget it.

Just enjoy that factoid for a few more hours. And to appreciate it more, consider this: Northwestern has lost 36 straight games to Top 5 teams. Its last such win was in 1959, when it won 14-10 at No. 5 Iowa.

Some of these Big Ten schools are putting together impressive video series. Check out Minnesota’s latest edition of “Brick by Brick,” featuring stud DT Ra’Shede Hageman.

Speaking of Hageman, the staff wants the d-line to get more pressure.

The great Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes that defense not only was expected to be the Gophers’ strength this season, it was expected to be the best the program has seen in years. Yes, the defense appears superior to the offense midway through the season. But that’s not saying much. Inconsistent play in the secondary and a surprisingly poor pass rush has allowed quarterbacks to pick apart defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys’ unit in losses to Iowa and Michigan.

Where are you, Ra’Shede?

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The great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette wrote a nice love letter to Wisconsin. Hey, if you’ve ever been to Madison, you’d fall in love, too.

Have you heard that the NCAA says there will be renewed enforcement of hand-checking? I guess I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, check out this Q&A David Jones of Pennlive.com conducted with John Adams, the NCAA coordinator of officiating.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Get back to me when you play a good offense.

My take: There is genuine excitement about Penn State hoops.

My take: Makes you say “what if?”

My take: The linebacking hasn’t been up to par for a while now.

My take: Shows you how things change, doesn’t it?

My take: Perhaps, but if was Northwestern, I’d feel a lot better if Colter and Mark were guaranteed to play on Saturday and weren’t “questionable.”

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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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Show Comments (1 Comment)
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Mike on 10/18/2013 @ 12:31pm EDT Said:

“My take: Perhaps, but if was Northwestern, I’d feel a lot better if Colter and Mark were guaranteed to play on Saturday and weren’t “questionable.””

Well, um, yeah, in a perfect world. And the ‘Cats would have held on to beat Ohio State, too. Nor would they have embarassed themselves in Madison last week. But it’s not a perfect world and I think the point that he was trying to make was that NU is a good team even without Mark/Colter. And I think the point is correct.

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