I’m continuing my early week-by-week look at the 2013 Big Ten schedule, and it’s all about Week 4 today. Being the final week before Big Ten play kicks off across the conference, the slate leaves some to be desired. That said, there are a few intriguing games, including an early Big Ten draw (Purdue at Wisconsin). Get all the storylines, matchups and my rankings of the week’s games in this post.
Andrew Weber-US Presswire
I’m leading Daily Links with baseball. Yes, that’s right: Baseball! It’s all a celebration of Indiana’s trip to the College World Series, the Big Ten’s first entrant in the grand event since 1984. The Indianapolis Star has a neat photo feature that looks at over 20 of the best all-time MLB players produced by Big Ten schools.
Yes, the 2013 football season still is two-plus months away. That won’t keep me from looking ahead and taking an in-depth look at each and every week’s top matchups and storylines. I’m also offering my rankings of every week’s slate of games. Up now: Week 3, highlighted by Nebraska’s rematch vs. UCLA.
David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
No category, it seems, is more difficult to predict on a yearly basis than interceptions. Sure, we know who the best cover guys are in the league every year, but that’s not always who finds himself on top of the leaderboard. Last year, there was a quartet of guys who led the Big Ten, with four interceptions. Only Landon Feichter returns from the group. Will he repeat in 2013? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks.
The Michigan offense is set to take the final step in its transformation from a spread-oriented scheme into a pro-style attack.
Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE
If experience matters, Wisconsin is in good shape for 2013. According to Phil Steele, the Badgers will have the most experienced team in the Big Ten in terms of having the top percentage of returning lettermen.
Raise your hand if you thought Allen Robinson would lead the Big Ten in touchdown receptions a year ago at this time. No hands, right? That’s what we thought. Robinson entered last season with a grand total of three receptions before breaking out to pace the Big Ten with 77 catches, 1,013 yards and 11 TDs. Will there be another Robinson-like breakout this fall in the receiving TD category? Or will it be a familiar name? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks.
Hey, who isn’t looking forward to football season? It’s only June, but I’m itching for kickoff and am starting to look ahead to each week of the 2013 season. From Week 1 to Week 12, I’ll offer the best each week has to offer and rank every week’s games. Up now: Week 2, highlighted by Notre Dame at Michigan.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
It’s time to take a week-by-week look at the 2013 Big Ten schedule. Interesting storylines, matchups and battles within the battles dot each week’s slate of games. Up first, of course: Week 1. Get my opening week preview in this post.
While the Big Ten doesn’t boast a laundry list of all-world wide receivers, it’s not like it is void of talent at the position. Guys such as Allen Robinson, Kenny Bell and Jared Abbrederis steal most of the headlines, but there’s also plenty of other productive guys. Who will lead the Big Ten in receiving yards this season? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has progressively gotten better each year in Lincoln. It’s no accident. A reason for that improvement has been his offseason work with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun in southern California. Well, Martinez is still working with Calhoun, looking to punctuate his Cornhuskers career in style. And, hopefully, the program’s first league title since 1999.
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
There used to be a time when the rushing touchdown leaderboard always came down to the elite running backs. These days, the running backs receive stiff competition from dual-threat quarterbacks. More specifically, in the Big Ten, Kain Colter, Taylor Martine and Braxton Miller. Will a signal-caller lead the Big Ten in rushing scores this fall? See Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a nice look at the alternate uniform craze. As he notes, the zany and garish togs aren’t about fortysomething fans; they are about the kids and recruiting.
Everyone at Iowa is ready to turn the page on 2012 and move forward. Why not? Last season saw the Hawkeyes go 4-8, the program’s worst mark since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. Iowa missed a bowl for the first time since 2007, ending a four-year bowl run.
The Big Ten is known for churning out 1,000-yard running backs. That’s still the case in 2013, with talents such as Ameer Abdullah, Carlos Hyde, Venric Mark and James White, among others, calling the Big Ten home. In recent seasons, however, quarterbacks have joined the mix, too. And that only makes predicting the rushing yards leader even more fun. See our guys’ picks for this season’s rushing yards leader in this post.
The NFL draft wasn’t that long ago. But, it’s always fun to look forward And that’s exactly what Audrey Snyder of PennLive.com is doing in a piece that examines the most intriguing Penn State NFL prospects. You never can have enough NFL-caliber players, right?
Often, the most popular player on campus is the backup quarterback. The guy holding the clipboard and wearing a baseball cap typically is perceived as being the answer to every struggling offense. On that note, here’s my ranking of the Big Ten backup quarterback situations.
If we had told you prior to last season that Matt McGloin, Taylor Martinez, Robert Marve, Braxton Miller and Cam Coffman would finish 1-5 in touchdown passes, you would have thought we were crazy. Point is, at this time of year, it’s difficult to predict a category like this.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart compiled his thoughts to a host of recent Big Ten tweets that caught his attention. See all the tweets and Dienhart’s reaction in this post.
The struggles of the Michigan State offense in 2012 are well-documented. Aside from sticking the ball in the gut of running back Le’Veon Bell, nothing else worked with much consistency. In particular, the play of quarterback Andrew Maxwell came under scrutiny. That caused some to wonder if he’d keep his job. Well, repeat after MSU coach Mark Dantonio: There is no quarterback question. Nope. Dantonio says Maxwell is the guy—for now, at least.
There are some nice defensive backfields in the Big Ten. And none is better than Ohio State’s. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the top secondary in the nation, which is one of many reasons why Ohio State is a legit national title contender. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten defensive backfields.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
A year ago, few, if any, would have pegged Penn State’s Matt McGloin to lead the Big Ten in passing yards. He did, and did so in dominating fashion, finishing 395 yards ahead of Taylor Martinez despite playing two fewer games. Will another unexpected, under-the-radar guy lead the Big Ten in passing yards in 2013? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE