Monday links: Can OSU get to Nos. 1 or 2 in BCS?

Another week is in the books. And, Ohio State’s prospects for reaching the BCS title game look better. Let’s begin daily links right there. It wasn’t a shock to see Ohio State ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings after Oregon lost to Stanford. But the biggest question: Can the Buckeyes get to Nos. 1 or 2?

Ohio State faces an uphill battle, needing to win out and also get help in the form of losses by Alabama and/or Florida State to reach the BCS title game. Wisconsin also faces a challenge. To qualify for selection as an at-large BCS team, it must rank No. 14 or higher; it’s No. 22 now, up two spots from last week. Michigan State is No. 16.

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Not many smiling faces in Ann Arbor. That’s understandable. The Wolverines have looked bad the last two weeks, especially on offense, in losing at Michigan State and to Nebraska. Mlive.com says stubbornness on the part of offensive coordinator Al Borges and coach Brady Hoke is to blame.

Josh Slagter of Mlive.com says lack of improvement and overall youth along the interior of the offensive line has been well documented. But the head-scratcher here is Hoke and Borges basically refusing to adjust to their team’s strengths, which clearly isn’t running the ball from under center.

“It’s hard to explain, isn’t it?” Hoke said when asked about issues running the ball. “I liked the play-calling. We thought we could do some things, and we didn’t.”

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With the way Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is playing, don’t you wonder where he would figure in the Heisman race if he hadn’t gotten hurt?

Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com wonders. I think, without a doubt, Miller would be in the thick of the race. He may even be a front-runner. Check this out: If you remove Miller’s brief exploits against San Diego State and measure his statistics over six affairs, his per-game numbers look thusly: 214.3 passing yards, 67.5 rushing yards, 2.8 total touchdowns, 0.5 interceptions.

Compare that to the totals of Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Winston: 312.8 passing yards, 19.2 rushing yards, 3.4 total touchdowns, 0.8 interceptions

Manziel: 318.6 passing yards, 62.7 rushing yards, 3.8 total touchdowns, 0.9 interceptions

Mariota: 281.2 passing yards, 55.0 rushing yards, 3.4 total touchdowns, 0.0 interceptions

Not bad, huh?

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Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com says the numbers from Penn State’s loss at Minnesota speak for themselves. And, he’s correct.

Flounders thinks the Nittany Lions’ final record will be 7-5 or 6-6. Which, honestly, wouldn’t be bad when you consider the circumstances Penn State is dealing with. The Nittany Lions are 55th in total offense, 75th in scoring offense, 61st in total defense, 72nd in scoring defense, 105th in turnover margin (the Lions are minus-7), 112th in third-down conversion percentage, 64th in red zone offense, 59th in red zone defense, 87th in net punting, 84th in kickoff returns and 74th in time of possession. Those numbers don’t lie. This Penn State team, through nine games, is average. At best.

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Rick Brown of HawkCenteal.com says Iowa is improved. But, he doesn’t seem impressed by a Hawkeye program that became bowl eligible last week. No doubt, there still is work to do.

Brown is correct. This is a good Iowa team … not great. But coming off a 4-8 season and already having six wins is a good sign. Any wins from here on out are gravy.

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Interesting read from Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror. Yes, the NCAA sanctions are impacting Penn State. But, no, Bill O’Brien shouldn’t receive a free pass for all of the Nittany Lions’ issues.

Giger notes that O’Brien is dealing with circumstances and roster limitations that Joe Paterno never had to face, so in many ways, yes, O’Brien does get a bit of a free pass. But here’s where things get tricky, primarily because as great of a leader as he is, O’Brien’s game day coaching is very much a work in progress. I admit, Giger, makes some compelling points here. A good read.

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Tom Oates of Madison.com was impressed by Wisconsin’s victory over BYU. But he wonders if any noticed.

It seems like no one is paying attention to what the 7-2 Badgers are doing. This year, they probably are most known for getting jobbed at Arizona State—and not their impressive play on both sides of the ball that makes them one the nation’s top teams. But, can the Badgers get up to the top 14 of the BCS standings?

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Surprised by how quickly Minnesota has turned things around? So is Gophers coach Jerry Kill.

The Gophers are on their first four-game Big Ten winning streak in 40 years and earned their first national ranking since 2008 Sunday, placing No. 25 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

“We haven’t had three recruiting classes yet,” Kill said. “Everywhere else we had three recruiting classes. So that’s the unique thing about it.”

Twenty current players were recruited by former coach Tim Brewster’s staff, including seven starters.

“I think you’ve got to give credit to those kids and the combination of bringing kids in,” Kill said. “It’s become one heartbeat. Sometimes when you’re in that transition, it takes a while.”

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It’s difficult to get a read on this Huskers team. Is it good? Average? Championship-caliber? I’m still not sure. And neither is Tom Shatel of Omaha.com. Shatel wonders if we just saw Bo Pelini’s coming of age? He doesn’t know. But we certainly will learn more next Saturday, when mighty Michigan State comes to Lincoln for the Legends Division Championship Game.

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This is interesting from the Baltimore Sun: Maryland has started a P.R. campaign to change impressions about a pending move to the Big Ten.

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Hey, looky here: Terrelle Pryor’s Big Ten championship ring is for sale.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: So, yes, running the ball vs. Michigan State is going to be difficult for Nebraska.

My take: Saturday can’t get here quickly enough.

My take: #smh

My take: More tangible proof of the unit’s struggles.

My take: So there is that. Thank you.

My take: The guy deserves more credit.

My take: Interesting.

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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Doug on 11/11/2013 @ 11:07am EDT Said:

Nebraska still has a dangerous trip to Happy Valley, and Minnesota still has to come to MSU. I like MSU’s chances regardless of what happens in Lincoln this weekend.