Thursday links: Can MSU stop OSU's run game?

Thursday links: Can MSU stop OSU's run game?

The Big Ten championship game is just two days away. Should be a good one. And the one matchup we all anticipate is the clash between the Ohio State offense and Michigan State defense. How will the Spartans defend the killer 1-2 rushing duo of Braxton Miller-Carlos Hyde?

Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com notes that there may be no team in the nation more prepared to do it than Michigan State, ranked No. 1 in run defense. But part of stopping the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game in Naptown on Saturday will be first figuring out who has the ball, with Miller having made progress in his two seasons in the Urban Meyer offense in dealing with the read-option aspect of the run game.

Check this out: Hyde is averaging 143.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks sixth in the nation. Miller is averaging 83.3 yards on the ground, which ranks 43rd. That combination of 226.6 yards per game ranks second among RB/QB duos, behind Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch and Cameron Stingily, who combine for 242.4 rushing yards per game.

In their last three games, Miller and Hyde are combining for the staggering average of 356.7 rushing yards per game.

Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette wonders if the SEC is really better than the Big Ten. He makes some good points. My point: The SEC is always gonna get the benefit of the doubt in any arguments/comparisons because, well, you know, it has won SEVEN national titles in a row!

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Many were surprised by the resignation of Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden. I was. David Jones of Pennlive.com says it was a matter of conflicting styles that led to the split between Vanderlinden and Bill O’Brien.

“Vandy” was a top recruiter and darn good coach. He’ll land somewhere. Ditto quarterback coach Charlie Fisher, who also resigned.

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Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com has a nice Michigan mail bag to satiate your Wolverine grid appetite.

This wasn’t a good season for the Wolverines. A 7-5 mark? In November, Michigan went 1-4. Brady Hoke said Monday that he doesn’t anticipate any staff changes — but he also said he’ll be evaluating everyone. So, we shall see. Keep hitting “refresh” on your web browser.

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This is pretty cool. Andrew Logue of HawkCentral.com tells the story of Iowa’s turnaround season through a series of quotes beginning with one from Kirk Ferentz on Nov. 28, 2012 through one from Jordan Canzeri on Nov. 29, 2013.

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Wisconsin fans: Football tickets are slated to increase by $3. It would be the first increase in four years. It’s worth it.

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Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson has been granted his release and will transfer. Not a big surprise. He arrived as a JC transfer but is hopelessly buried behind Christian Hackenberg.

“He wants to play somewhere and it doesn’t have to necessarily be a school on the West Coast right now,” Ferguson’s stepfather, David Reese, told PennLive. “There aren’t any favorites in mind and he’d have to redshirt a year so maybe he goes somewhere where a senior is starting so he can sit for a year, learn the offense and then play.”

IMG Academy quarterback Michael O’Connor is set to enroll in January and joins Hackenberg and freshman walk-ons D.J. Crook, Austin Whipple and Jack Seymour as the other quarterbacks on the roster. Can you say “unproven depth”? Sure you can!

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Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan recently spoke passionately about Brady Hoke. Just shows you the kind of support Hoke has from players—and the frustration with Michigan fans for Lewan.

Check this out: “It doesn’t matter what our record is, it doesn’t matter what’s happened the past few years, we’re the winningest program in college football,” said Lewan in response to how Michigan was able to play Ohio State so closely. “That’s how it is. And as long as coach (Brady) Hoke’s here, that’s how it’s going to be.

“Alright?”

OK, big fella. We all got the message.

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Iowa fans will get a kick out of Stewart Mandel responding to a reader in his mailbag who poked fun at the SI.com writer for labeling Kirk Ferentz one of the five worst coaches in the nation over the summer.

At least Mandel is a good sport about it. Hey, we all miss on things.

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Wow. Looks like John Feinstein isn’t an Urban Meyer fan.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: That’s nuts!

My take: Exactly.

My take: That is stunning.

My take: This is what they call “great chemistry.”

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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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