So, the postseason hasn’t gotten off to a stellar start for the Big Ten. The league is 0-2, as Minnesota lost to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl and Michigan got drubbed by Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. But all is not lost. The Big Ten has five bowls left, offering plenty of opportunity for redemption and image rehabilitation.
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News flash: The Ohio State defense has holes, but Urban Meyer thinks coordinator Luke Fickell can fill them. We shall see. A big Orange Bowl clash vs. Clemson and its high-flying offense looms on Friday. I am expecting a shootout. How can the Buckeye defense be fixed in a few weeks? Exactly. It can’t.
There are 12 games this week to open the Big Ten season. And many of the matchups will go a long way toward shaping the race, with Iowa’s trip to Wisconsin being the headliner. In fact, it could be one of the better games of the season. Here’s a ranking of this week’s games.
The calendar is about to flip from 2013 to 2014. And the hoops season is about to flip from non-conference play to Big Ten action. For the most part, that means good-bye to games vs. East Timbuktu State. Thank, goodness. And the first week of full-bore league action features some interesting and intriguing matchups. Here’s what to look for in my first edition of Whiteboard.
Mark J. Rebilas
The calendar flipped to December, but Michigan’s misery continued. This 31-14 loss to Kansas State on Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was the Wolverines’ third defeat in succession and fifth in six games.
Bret Who? Exactly. By most measures, Gary Andersen’s debut was a rousing success in Madison, as he guided Wisconsin to the precipice of a BCS bowl after Bret Bielema unceremoniously dumped the Badgers for … Arkansas? That’s in the past. The future in Badger Town is bright.
Minnesota’s memorable 2013 season came to an unsatisfying close Friday night with a 21-17 loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl. Leading 17-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse got a 70-yard punt return from Brisley Estime, which eventually set up the game-winning score for the Orange with just over a minute remaining.
First-year coach Darrell Hazell surely had no idea about the size and scope of the mess he was inheriting from the ruinous Danny Hope era. Hazell and Co., tried. They really did. But the talent level never has been lower in the history of the program. And, it showed in what was arguably the worst season in school history.
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Bill O’Brien continued to deliver results in his second season in State College, Pa., despite being hampered with severe NCAA sanctions. O’Brien debuted with an 8-4 mark (6-2 Big Ten) in 2012 and followed with a 7-5 record (4-4 Big Ten) this season.
It was shocking to see the news release from Michigan State. It was so pragmatic, so succinct, so short, so to the point and so disappointing. “Max Bullough has been suspended for the remainder of the season for a violation team rules.”
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Urban Meyer has set the bar high in Columbus since arriving prior to 2012, winning his first 24 games. But he didn’t get win No. 25 in succession, as Ohio State lost in the Big Ten championship game which cost OSU a trip to the BCS title game.
Northwestern experienced one of the most bizarre descents in the nation, watching a 4-0 start melt into a 5-7 record and last-place finish in the Legends Division. The low-light was a numbing seven-game losing skid that followed the 4-0 start. The pain finally ended with a season-ending win at rival Illinois.
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Weird. No other word better describes this season. The campaign dawned amid great promise, as Nebraska was coming off a Legends Division title. Much of that same talent was back, fueling hopes for the program’s first league title since 1999. Alas, the defense often looked a lot like it did in 2012, getting gashed for big yards/points after the staff made myriad vows to “fix things.”
Minnesota was one of the best stories in the nation in 2013, showing resiliency in the face of adversity as the team dealt with health issues to Jerry Kill that forced him to leave the program at one point. The reins were handed to defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, who thrived as the acting head coach in keeping the team on course with Kill tending to the seizures that are brought on by his epilepsy.
On Thursday’s #BTNLive, at 6 p.m. ET, it will be all about the seniors. The show will release its 2013 All-Senior Team, which is littered with big-time talent all over the field, and include interviews with select senior stars. See the show’s complete team in this post.
No one needed to remind Mark Dantonio of the pain of 2012, when Michigan State finished 7-6 and lost five games by a combined 13 points coming off consecutive 11-win seasons. The Spartans embarked on a redemption tour of sorts in 2013, marching through an 8-0 Big Ten season that saw them win every game by double-figures.
“Disappointing” is the only label to put on this season. Yes, this largely is a young roster under construction for a program that probably is still a year away from blossoming.
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This was a season of redemption for Iowa and coach Kirk Ferentz. Coming off a 4-8 record in 2012 that featured a moribund offense and no bowl for the first time since 2007, some fans were restless. Had Ferentz lost his touch? Would the Hawkeyes miss a bowl for a second season in a row for the first time since a three-season dry spell from 1998-2000?
Wow. Make that: Double wow. How is that for a Friday? A “double wow.” Pretty cool, huh? The cause of my double-wow: There is a 2014 Top 25 already out. And, here it is. The highest ranked Big Ten team? Do you have to ask—or click on the link? C’mon. But it is kinda cool to see Minnesota at No. 24. But, there are only three Big Ten teams in this way, way, way too early Top 25 from NationalChamps.net.
So many bowls, so little time. That’s where I come in. Think of me as your bowl concierge. Time is precious. With that said, before you go ahead and make any bowl-watching plans, check out my Best of the Big Ten Bowls list.
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The calendar is flipping to 2014, and that means it’s time to rank the top 10 Big Ten men’s basketball games of 2013. Talk about a difficult list! This is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Anyway, here’s my list of the 10 best games from the 2013 calendar year.
This looked like it would be the season Indiana finally ended a bowl drought that stretched to the 2007 season. There were eight home games, with the first five at home. And there was loads of veteran talent on offense and promising youngsters on defense for a program that was maturing in its third year under ultra-intense Kevin Wilson.