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.
Year Two under Tim Beckman brought hope in the form of an improved won-loss record, as Illinois went from two victories to four. The credit goes to a revived offense, as new coordinator Bill Cubit altered the scheme and maxed out the skills of senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Illinois averaged 29.7 points and 426.7 yards in 2013 after averaging 16.7 points and 296.7 yards in 2012.
The Big Ten has seven teams in bowls. And there are some high-level opponents, including Stanford, Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. And one of the best parts of the bowl season is watching players you rarely get a chance to see compete vs. Big Ten foes. Here’s a ranking of the top 25 players Big Ten teams will face in the postseason.
December in Pennsylvania has come to mean two things: 1. The holidays; 2. Bill O’Brien speculation. So, let’s start daily link there. David Jones of Pennlive.com takes a look at the annual O’Brien-to-the-NFL chatter.
The Big Ten football season was filled with many headline-grabbing events in 2013. In fact, in some respects, it was a history-making year for the conference. Here are my top 10 storylines of 2013.
Pretty soon, it will be time to usher in 2014. Before we officially say good-bye to 2013, though, I looked back and considered the best 2013 Big Ten football games. See my complete top 10 list in this post. Did I miss one? Send me your nomination in the form at the bottom of the post.
Iowa’s senior trio of linebackers James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens has a chance to go out with a bang in the Outback Bowl vs. LSU. But let’s take a peak toward 2014 as we kick off daily links: Who will replace the three stalwarts?
Michigan State is making its first trip to Pasadena since the 1987 season in what will be the 100th Rose Bowl. This is a culmination of sorts for Mark Dantonio in his seven seasons in East Lansing, finally getting the Spartans to the Big Ten’s Holy Grail after some close calls. Stanford is making its fourth trip to a BCS in a row and its second journey in succession to the Rose Bowl. This has become the premier Pac-12 program under David Shaw. Who needs Jim Harbaugh?
Yes, Ohio State would rather be playing in Pasadena, Calif., for the national championship vs. another ACC school, Florida State. But this is still a BCS bowl vs. a very good Clemson team. And that means it’s a chance for the Buckeyes to score some credibility points and quell critics who say OSU played a soft schedule.
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This is one of the better matchups of the postseason. Wisconsin—on a three-game bowl losing skid–and South Carolina—aiming for a third postseason triumph in succession–never have played, adding intrigue to this battle. Gary Andersen is looking to put his stamp on the Badger program in his first season; Steve Spurrier looks to add another brick in the wall of a strong program he has built in Columbia for a team that has wins vs. Missouri and Clemson.
Iowa has enjoyed a season of redemption. And it has been sweet for a program that was scrutinized and criticized coming off a 4-8 season in 2012. Had Kirk Ferentz lost it? Laughable.
Let’s start daily links here with Ohio State’s Braxton Miller winning the Silver Football from the Chicago Tribune as the Big Ten MVP. Not a big surprise but still impressive when you consider he missed almost three games with a knee injury. Had Miller posted big numbers in a win over Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, I think he would have been a Heisman finalist.
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Two traditional powers square off for a second season in a row in the postseason. And each will do so without the quarterbacks they began the season with. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has been shelved with a variety of ailments—shoulder, hip, abdomen, ankle–missing eight of the last nine games. Aaron Murray’s season was wrecked by a knee injury suffered vs. Kentucky on November 23.
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USA Today has its All-American Team out. So, let’s start daily links there. Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard are the lone first-team choices from the Big Ten. Funny, wasn’t Wisconsin linebacker the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year? Borland was on the second team with Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien. Lewan? Really? He was one of the 10 best offensive linemen in America this season? Talk amongst yourself.
One college football blue blood in Michigan faces a recent upstart in Kansas State. This is intriguing. Even better: These teams never have met. For Michigan, this is a chance to get a bad taste out of its mouth for a 2013 season that has been, well, a disappointment.
If Minnesota is disappointed to be going to Houston, it isn’t showing it. The Gophers probably deserved a better destination. But the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl opted for 7-5 Michigan over 8-4 Nebraska; and the Gator Bowl tabbed Nebraska over Minnesota.