Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to motivation, few push buttons better than Barry Alvarez. Heading into the Rose Bowl vs. Stanford, Alvarez had bracelets made for players that read “I’m In” and “I’m On.” But the players had to earn the rubber jewelry through their position coach.
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Every week this season, Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) and myself (@BTNBrentYarina) offered our predictions for each Big Ten football game and provided polls for fans to pick their winners. We continued it this bowl season, and BTN.com fans and Dienhart each went 7-0, meaning the former claims the 2012 crown.
Happy New Year! It’s Jan. 1, the high holy day for college football. Before kickoff, check out my daily links, which begins with looks at the Big Ten and the five bowls it’s involved with today. And one of the most interesting will be the Outback Bowl clash between Michigan and South Carolina. Here’s a nice breakdown of the game from Kyle Meinke of MLive.com.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The start of conference play began on Monday with two key matchups: Michigan State at Minnesota and Indiana and Iowa. But more interesting games loom this week, including Ohio State at Illinois and Iowa at Michigan. Here’s my ranking of the week’s games.
Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE
The Big Ten takes the lid off of conference action this week. Now, we really will discover what these teams are made of. The Chicago States, Slippery Rocks, North Floridas, Bryants and Nebraska-Omahas are being replaced with trips to places like Bloomington, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Champaign and Minneapolis.
This may be the last day of 2012, but it’s the first for Big Ten league hoop action. What a great place to begin my daily links!
If you like tough, physical, smash-mouth football, you’ll love this game. Wisconsin and Stanford are mirrors of each other in many ways. The Badgers are in the Rose Bowl for a third season in a row. The last Big Ten team to pull off that feat was Michigan after the 1976-78 seasons.
Michigan came close to winning the Legends Division but still is in search of its first league title since 2004. A win here would prime the program for a strong run in 2013, as this is a young roster. Three of the team’s four losses were to the top three teams in the nation: Notre Dame; Alabama; Ohio State. The other was to 10-win Nebraska.
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
This is a battle between the losers of their respective conference title games. It also is a game that will feature one of the better quarterback matchups, with Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez facing off with Georgia’s Aaron Murray. And which Cornhusker defense will show up? The one that allowed 653 yards at UCLA, 63 points at Ohio State and 70 points to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game? Or the one that backstopped a six-game winning streak leading into the league title game?
Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
Purdue will arrive in Dallas without head coach Danny Hope, who was fired after four seasons despite guiding the Boilermakers to a second bowl in succession. This is a chance to punctuate a second consecutive season with a bowl win, which hasn’t happened since winning back-to-back Alamo Bowls in 1997-98. And the Boilermakers arrive with some momentum, having won three in a row.
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota kicks off the first of seven football bowl games involving Big Ten teams when the Gophers face Texas Tech on Friday night. On Saturday, Michigan State plays TCU. On Sunday leading up to five Big Ten bowls on New Year’s Day, watch our “Bowl Preview Show” at 7 p.m. ET on BTN/BTN2Go.
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Expect a tough, low-scoring defensive effort in this game. Neither team comes in on a roll, having lost four of their last six games. Needless to say, the season hasn’t gone as expected for either team as both opened the season in the Top 25. In fact, the Spartans were picked by some to win the Big Ten coming off consecutive 11-win seasons.
This is a battle between programs looking to ascend the food chain in their respective conferences. Jerry Kill is in his second season in the Twin Cities, rallying the program to its first bowl since 2009. The extra practices will help hasten the development of this rising team.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Michigan was the highest-rated Big Ten team in the AP preseason poll at No. 8, but it was undone by youth, injuries and a brutal schedule. The offense struggled much of the season, getting little production from the tailbacks and an inconsistent effort up front in Brady Hoke’s second season in Ann Arbor.
Gary Andersen sounded like a confident and prepared coach. Soon, he’ll get the chance to prove it, as he was introduced today as the new Wisconsin coach.
Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports
Big Ten players have been honored on various all-conference teams. But what about the assistant coaches? Let’s take this time to honor them on a 2012 Big Ten All-Assistant Coach Team.
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Wisconsin isn’t apologizing for being the first five-loss team ever in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers will proudly punch their third ticket in a row to Pasadena, thanks largely to a defense that played well all season.
Andrew Weber-US Presswire
The truth hurts, but here it comes: This is the most disappointing team in the Big Ten. The Spartans were considered legit Big Ten contenders coming off consecutive 11-win seasons. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s unit did its part, yielding 20 or fewer points eight times.
USA Today is out with its analysis of coaching salaries, and let’s just say it’s good to be an assistant coach. On average, FBS assistants made $200,000 in 2012. That’s a 10 percent increase over 2011 and a 29 percent gain since USA Today began this exercise in 2009. Find the entire database at USAToday.com.
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
It’s the holiday season. Time is precious. There are many options when it comes to Big Ten bowl games but there are also five of them on Jan. 1 alone. Which ones should you watch? What should you watch for in each? That’s where I come in with my nifty ranking of the Big Ten bowls from 1-7.
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
It’s the busy holiday season, but that hasn’t stopped your flow of questions! Thanks! There is a lot going on in the Big Ten as we come to the end of 2012, with the bowl season starting, basketball picking up steam, Wisconsin hiring a coach and talk of Big Ten divisional realignment percolating. I look at all of that in my mail bag.
Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
There is no other place to start my daily links than with the news that broke last night that revealed that Wisconsin is poised to hire a new football coach: Gary Andersen of Utah State. Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal was the first to break the news on Tuesday night.
The Maxwell Club, the oldest football club in America, announced Wednesday that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien has been selected as its Coach of the Year for the 2012 season.