Ready for Saturday? Take Tom's B1G Grid Quiz

If you are like me, the prospect of taking a quiz sends a shiver down your spine. The mere specter of clearing my desk and being told to keep my eyes on my paper still gives me the cold sweats. But, this is a quiz-giving world—and I’m just living in it. So, take this Week 13 B1G Quiz. The grade will go on your permanent record.

1. What team has the most on the line this Saturday?

A. Michigan State

B. Michigan

C. Minnesota

D. Wisconsin

E. Ohio State

Answer: D. No doubt, Ohio State needs to win to stay unbeaten and remain in the thick of the BCS title game chase. But that’s too obvious. That’s why Wisconsin is the answer. The Badgers must beat Minnesota if they want any shot at making it as an at-large BCS team. Wisconsin was No. 19 in the last BCS standings and needs to finish in the top 14 in order to qualify for selection. Bottom line: Wisconsin can’t afford any slips down the stretch vs. the Golden Gophers and then Penn State. Here are the teams from No. 14-18 in the current BCS standings:

14. UCLA

15. Fresno State

16. Northern Illinois

17. Arizona State

18. UCF

2. True or false: Ohio State should worry about scoring “style points” vs. Indiana.

Answer: False. Yes, I know two-thirds of the BCS formula is based on human elements, with those being the Harris Poll and the Coaches’ Poll. So, those human elements no doubt are impressed with gaudy winning point totals. So, a dominant effort vs. Indiana couldn’t hurt OSU. But, in the end, the Buckeyes need to just worry about winning out. Baylor likely will pass Ohio State in the BCS standing with a win at Oklahoma State this Saturday. But the Buckeyes would have a good chance to pass back over the Bears with wins at Michigan and in the Big Ten title game vs., say, Michigan State. Still, even winning out, OSU’s chances to reach the BCS title game will be out of its control, as it will take a loss by Alabama or Florida State for the Buckeyes to reach No. 1 or 2 in the standings—no matter how many “style” points Ohio State adds to its resume.

3. Who has been the most surprising team?

A. Iowa

B. Michigan State

C. Minnesota

Answer: C. You can make nice cases for all three. But the Gophers were a near-consensus pick to finish last in the Legends Division. Now, the team has become a national story, thriving while Jerry Kill deals with health issues to forge an 8-2 record and still be alive in the chase for the Legends Division title. It’s truly incredible.

4. Without a doubt, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah is the top Big Ten running back. He has rushed for over 100 yards in nine of 10 games this season and leads the Big Ten with 1,336 yards rushing. But who is the second-best running back?

A. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon

B. Minnesota’s David Cobb

C. Wisconsin’s James White

D. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde

E. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman

Answer: D. Hyde has been a beast, running 120 times for 947 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per tote with 11 touchdowns. And just think what his numbers would be like if he hadn’t been suspended for the first three games of the season? Exactly. Plus, the senior only carried a combined 22 times for 126 yards in his first two games of 2013. Hyde, 6-0, 242, is also poised to be the first running back ever coached by Urban Meyer to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

5. True or false: Nebraska DE Randy Gregory has been a more impactful newcomer than Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg.

Answer: False. But, it’s close. Gregory has been a revelation since arriving from a junior college via Indiana, where he was a prep basketball teammate of Michigan State star Gary Harris. Gregory has been a force off the edge for the Cornhuskers, pacing the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks. However, Nebraska’s defense probably still would be pretty good without Gregory. But where would the Penn State offense be without Hackenberg? Exactly. His passing has given flight to a Nittany Lions attack, opening room for running backs Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak to thrive. “Hack” is completing 59 percent of his passes for 2,399 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The true freshman looks like a future star.

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

Your Opinion?
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matt on 11/22/2013 @ 4:30pm EST Said:

I call BS on the best back……. both james white AND melvin gordon are better backs than either hyde OR abdullah. I know tom has a love affair with abdullah but lets face it, both he and hyde take a TON of carries to get just a touch more production than what both gordon and white do. down in, and down out, both white and gordon are by FAR better backs than hyde or abdullah.

Mine eyes doth NOT deceive me!

Jeffrey Reece on 11/23/2013 @ 12:53am EST Said:

I don’t think it is a for gone conclusion that Ameer Abdullah is the best running back in the Big10. In Big10 games only he has rushed for 871 and Carlos Hyde has 906. That is 151per v. 145 per. And Carlos has passed him in ypg for the season as well 135.3 to 133.6. And Carlos is proving to be every bit the homerun hitter that Ameer is.