Another week, another quiz. Yes, it’s time to test your knowledge by taking another B1G grid quiz. You know the drill by now.
Lots of interesting questions for an interesting weekend that is headlined by Nebraska’s trip to Michigan.
1. Who is the leading contender to be Big Ten Coach of the Year?
A. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer
B. Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys
C. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio
D. Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen
Answer: C. Claeys is an interesting option. Could an interim head coach win the honor? Bruce Arians did it with the Indianapolis Colts last season in the NFL when he filled in for Chuck Pagano, who was battling cancer. Doubtful for Claeys, as Jerry Kill appears primed to return to the sideline soon, but interesting food for thought. So, at this point, Dantonio has to be the choice. The Spartans were coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw MSU go 2-5 at home after MSU won 11 games in 2010 and 2011. And the offense was a mess early on, as the staff searched for answers at quarterback. No more. The offense has stabilized and the defense is playing out of its minds. Now, the Spartans are 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten, on track to play in the conference title game for the second time in three years. Not bad.
2. True or false: Nebraska needs a win more than Michigan?
This game is more vital to the Wolverines, who are coming off a 29-6 beat-down at Michigan State that may threaten to derail the season. Michigan has two Big Ten losses, while Nebraska has one and Michigan State has none. So, a third loss would all but eliminate the Wolverines from the Legends Division race. A win over the Cornhuskers would be a nice elixir for what ails a Michigan program that continues to search for answers on offense. And the defense has proven to be vulnerable, as Brady Hoke has expressed concern about the secondary. After the game vs. the Huskers, Michigan plays at Northwestern, at Iowa and vs. Ohio State. The Wolverines need to beat Nebraska to stay in the Legends race and to regain confidence for a tough stretch run.
3. Who will get their first Big Ten win first?
A. Purdue 0-4
B. Northwestern 0-5
C. Illinois 0-4
Answer: C. The Fighting Illini have a good shot to win this Saturday at Indiana, ending a miserable 18-game Big Ten losing streak. If the win doesn’t come in Bloomington, I like Illinois’ chances when it goes to Purdue on Nov. 23 and when it finishes the season at home vs. Northwestern. The Wildcats have home games left vs. Michigan and Michigan State, tough tilts. But NU figures to have a good shot at Illinois in the finale. Purdue? It has some potentially good opportunities, but the Boilermakers look too talent-poor to seize chances vs. Iowa, vs. Illinois and at Indiana.
4. How many points will Indiana and Illinois combine for?
Answer: C. Look, neither team has a steel curtain on defense. Indiana has the worst defense in the Big Ten (507.5 ypg); Illinois is No. 11 (461.8 ypg). And each team can move the ball, especially the Hoosiers, who are No. 2 in the Big Ten in total offense (511.8 ypg). The Illini are No. 7 (402.0). Bottom line: This game in Bloomington could be like a video game. If you are a defensive purist, look away.
5. Who has been more disappointing?
Answer: C. Obviously, good cases can be made for all four teams. Michigan was the pick by most to win the Legends; it still can happen, but the Wolverines have myriad issues to deal with. Indiana was thought to be bowl bound for just the second time since 1993 with a strong offense and favorable schedule, but that now looks to be a long shot after a crushing home loss to Minnesota last week. The Cornhuskers are still sitting in a good spot to win the Legends, but issues remain on defense and the offense is beat up. The three Big Ten teams Nebraska has beaten are a combined 0-13. Having typed all of that, Northwestern has to be the clear choice for most disappointing. The Wildcats returned lots of talent from a team coming off a 10-win season and its first bowl victory since the 1948 season. In fact, some felt Northwestern could win the Legends. The Wildcats got off to a 4-0 start but have since lost five in a row with the offense being the root of the problem. Now, there’s a good chance NU may not even get bowl eligible. It has been a stunning descent in Evanston.
|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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