Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, the program’s worst since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. That has some fans antsy. Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register sat down with the Hawkeyes boss to discuss a variety of topics for a program that has seen its win total fall from 11 to 8 to 7 to 4 each of the last four seasons.
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Some think Ohio State is the best team not just in the Big Ten but perhaps the best team in the nation as it comes off a 12-0 debut under Urban Meyer. A wealth of talent is one reason for optimism, as the Buckeyes are NCAA probation-free and eligible to win the Big Ten and BCS crowns. A favorable schedule is another reason for optimism. Ohio State should be favored in every game but one in 2013: the season finale at Michigan on Nov. 30.
It’s the time of week when I reach into my mailbag. Another good batch of correspondence from BTN readers and viewers. I appreciate all of the cards and letters. Keep them coming.
Most every key component from last year’s team that went 10-3 and won the school’s first bowl since the Stone Age — OK, the 1948 season — is back. Good, because this schedule is a doozy. In fact, starting 2-0 won’t be a given, with a trip to Cal and visit from Syracuse, which lost a crazy 42-41 game at home to the Wildcats last season, on tap to open the season. Big Ten schools switched cross-division foes this season, and no school had a less advantageous swap then NU.
It’s a slow, steady process, but the Minnesota offense is coming on as Jerry Kill continues to put his mark on the program entering his third year in the Twin Cities. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover’s attack ranked 10th in the Big Ten in 2012 (321.4 ypg). And the offense was ninth in scoring (22.1 ppg).
Newcomer Rutgers will take part in the first Big Ten game of 2014 when it plays host to Penn State on Sept. 13. That’s one of several interesting matchups in the schedule, which was announced today. The 2014 schedule will be the first season with Maryland and Rutgers in the conference. The 2014 season also will see the Big Ten split into new East and West Divisions.
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The cry for November night games seems to be gaining steam. Oh, they are coming. Could the sacrosanct Michigan-Ohio State ever be played at night? Buckeye athletic director Gene Smith is against it. Me, too. But, heck, I’m against all night games. “It’ll be noon,” Smith told reporters at the recent Big Ten meetings. “I have to be open to 3:30, but noon is my favorite time for that one.”
When Jim Delany speaks, people listen.
At the recent Big Ten athletic director meetings, the possible future bowl schedule began to come into focus as the league’s current bowl deals end after the 2013 season. It’s all about geography, Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press points out. The Big Ten wants to spread its brand coast-to-coast. It has been reported that the Big Ten will share tie-ins with the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl with the ACC during a six-year agreement, playing SEC opponents in both games.
Things set up well for Nebraska, which opens with five games at home and doesn’t leave Lincoln until Oct. 12 (at Purdue). It wouldn’t be a shock if Nebraska is 8-0 when it travels to Michigan on Nov. 9 in the only game the Huskers may not be favored in all season. Bottom line: This schedule greases the skids for Nebraska’s return trip to the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers pursue the program’s first conference title since 1999.
This schedule is built for success – at least the first half of it. It opens with four of the first five games coming at home. And Minnesota should be favored in each one. Could the Golden Gophers be 5-0 when they travel to Michigan on Oct. 5? Hmm. And—don’t look now—but Minnesota has a good chance to be 5-3 when it plays at Indiana on Nov. 2. But a loss to the improving Hoosiers would make getting a sixth win very difficult with a challenging last few games.
A lot went on at the Big Ten athletic directors meetings that concluded today in Chicago. Here’s a nice summation from Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and another here from Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal.
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At its spring meetings in Chicago, the Big Ten may discuss if it should have divisional play in basketball, as Rutgers and Maryland are set to join the league in 2014 to make the conference a 14-team entity. My advice: The Big Ten should take a lead from the other major conferences—ACC (12 teams), SEC (14), Pac-12 (12), old Big East (15), Atlantic 10 (16)–and not have divisional play.
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According to reports, the Big Ten bowl picture is supposed to change. And the first alterations are leaking out. Here’s what’s being talked about: the Big Ten and ACC will share the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl between 2014 and 2019 — with each conference to appear in each game three times during that span vs. the SEC.
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The schedule is pretty kind to a Michigan State program coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw MSU lose five games by a combined 13 points. If the Spartans can win at Notre Dame on Sept. 21, they could be 8-0 when they welcome Michigan on Nov. 2.
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Once the college football yearbooks hit the newsstand—and it has to be any day now—I expect to see six Big Ten teams in most Top 25s. And look for them to be in this order: Ohio State; Nebraska; Michigan; Wisconsin; Northwestern; Michigan State.
Salaries for assistant coaches have been rising across the nation. Have you seen some of the figures for SEC coordinators? Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart makes $1.2 million; LSU DC John Chavis makes $1.1 mil. Well, Ohio State is trying to keep pace.
It’s that time of the week when I reach into my mailbag to answers your questions. It seems many of you had an opinion about my post-spring Big Ten power rankings. Good. In fact, football is on the minds of many of you. And, that’s a good thing. The openers are less than four months away.
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Michigan’s 2013 football slate sets up for a fast start. In fact, it’s not crazy to think Michigan could be 6-1 or maybe even 7-0 as it travels Michigan State to begin a run of five November games that shape up to be as tough as any team’s in the nation. It’s nice to have heavies like Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all coming to Ann Arbor. The November menu features the Wolverines three toughest Legends competitors in a row: at MSU; Nebraska; at Northwestern.
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Except for the guy living under a rock—you know who you are—we all have heard 1,000,001 times that the SEC has won the last seven national titles. Bravo! It is an awesome feat. If a Big Ten team is gonna end the skein, it figures to be Ohio State, says Stewart Mandel of SI.com as I present Friday’s edition of my weekday Big Ten links.
Iowa may be hard-pressed to get bowl eligible coming off a disappointing 4-8 season, the program’s worst since 2000. Keep an eye on the trip to Minnesota on Sept. 28 in the Big Ten opener. This game figures to set the tone. Iowa beat the Golden Gophers and claimed Floyd of Rosedale last season but has lost the last two games in Minneapolis. These are two teams trying to climb over each other in the loaded Legends Division. Iowa’s cross-over games also have gotten appreciably more difficult, as the Hawkeyes have picked up Ohio State and Wisconsin—arguably the two best teams in the Leaders Division.
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The Big Ten has said that it wants schools to beef up their non-conference schedules. Well, so far, so good. Michigan is the latest school to add a marquee non-conference foe. Today, the school announced a home-and-home series with Virginia Tech in 2020 and 2021. The schools have met just one time, with the Wolverines beating the Hokies, 23-20, in the Sugar Bowl after the 2011 season.
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Spring football is over and the offseason is officially here. Let’s all let loose with a collective sigh. Now we have to wait until the night of Thursday, August 29, for the first Big Ten game when UNLV plays at Minnesota. There are lots of barbecues, cannon balls into the swimming pool, croquet, Wiffle Ball and Jarts between now and then.