The Big Ten championship game won’t be played until December 3 in Indianapolis. But a de facto Legends Division game may be taking place at Nebraska this weekend. Michigan State plays at Nebraska in a game that will go a long way toward determining who will win the Legends Division. The Spartans are the lone unbeaten team in the division. The Cornhuskers have one loss—and likely can’t afford another. Bottom line: A win by Michigan State would give it a virtual stranglehold on the Legends Division race.
Have a Big Ten football question you want answered? I’m Tom Dienhart and I want you to fire off an email to me. This is a great place for us to interact with each other, sharing our passion for all things Big Ten as the season prepares to hit the home stretch. This week, readers want to know if Purdue will qualify for a bowl, what the tiebreaker procedures are for divisional play and how Russell Wilson was able to be eligible right away at Wisconsin, among other subjects.
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Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins has a sense for history. He knows his 44-yard desperation touchdown heave to Keith Nichol with four seconds hanging on the clock was an instant classic. The epic play that knocked off an unbeaten and top-10 ranked Wisconsin team will go down in Big Ten lore. And the play will loom even bigger among Michigan State fans if Cousins and the 2011 Spartans are able to deliver the school its first trip the Rose Bowl since the 1988 season. I caught up with Cousins earlier this week to get his thoughts on his epic pass—as well as a few other subjects.
The Big Ten is loaded with standout players on both sides of the ball. There’s Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and Michigan State wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, who joined The Next Level on Tuesday night. Watch the interview now.
The stretch drive of the season is entering a higher gear with two big matchups on tap in what looks like the best collection of games yet in 2011. The headliner is Michigan State at Nebraska in a key game that will determine pecking order in the Legends Division. The other tilt to watch is a big Leaders Division battle between Wisconsin at Ohio State. The Buckeyes are coming off an off week rested, ready and perhaps with a few new wrinkles. How will the Badgers respond coming off their first loss of the season? Come tell me in the comments box below, or drop me a note in my BTN.com mailbag.
Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
Prior to the 2011 college football season, the Big Ten announced the creation of 18 new trophies, including two for the new Big Ten Championship Game and two for postgraduate awards. Each trophy honors the Big Ten’s rich history, with two Big Ten legends’ last names on it (i.e. Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year).
The nation still is buzzing about Michigan State’s electric victory over Wisconsin that shook up the national title picture. But Week 8 also saw some saw quarterbacks emerge at Indiana, Penn State and Purdue. It also featured Iowa and Nebraska take care of business and show they still mean business in the Legends Division.
Wisconsin’s loss at Michigan State likely cost it a shot at playing in the BCS title game. It also cost the Badgers a spot in the Rose Bowl—for now. And the Big Ten may be in peril of having to settle for just one BCS bowl slot, which hasn’t happened since the 2004 season. Here’s what we know for sure: Indiana already has been eliminated from bowl contention. Purdue, Northwestern and Minnesota have work to do to get into postseason position. The others will continue to jockey for position. See how BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart slots the Big Ten teams in bowl games after eight weeks of the season in this post.
CHICAGO – BTN today announced it has hired Tom Dienhart as its senior writer for BTN.com, covering football and men’s basketball. Dienhart comes to the network after serving as the senior national college football writer at Rivals.com/Yahoo! Sports since 2008.