It’s Wednesday, Hump Day. And, it seems Michigan Nation is still aflame over the loss at Penn State. The analysis and problem-solving boils. Brady Hoke said it. We all know it: Devin Gardner can’t carry the ball 27 times a game. Gardner actually ran it 24 times at Penn State. And when he ran it, Michigan had some success. When he didn’t run, the offense—well, it stunk. So, that’s the conundrum.
Who’s the best linebacker in the Big Ten? Is it Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier? Michigan State’s Max Bullough or Denicos Allen? How about one of Iowa’s guys: James Morris, Anthony Hitchens or Christian Kirksey? Maybe Illinois’ Jonathan Brown, Penn State’s Glenn Carson or Northwestern’s Chi Chi Ariguzo?
My mailbag is getting full as the season hits the halfway mark. And, many of my letters are from antsy Michigan fans and happy Michigan State fans. By the way, only three more weeks until they play! So, let’s dig right in and answer some questions.
Seven weeks down, seven weeks to go. At the midway point of the 2013 Big Ten football season, it’s time to release my All-Big Ten Midseason Team. I also did a midseason report. See who made my midseason team in this post.
The days are growing shorter, as Halloween draws nearer. It all means one thing: We are at the midseason point of the season. Here’s a look back at what we’ve experienced so far in the 2013 season—and a look ahead at what’s about to come in the season-defining home stretch.
I’m finally gonna acquiesce to the notion that Ohio State faces a challenge to get to the BCS title game. Yes, the Buckeyes have a great shot to go unbeaten. But that may not be enough for OSU to finish No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS standings, as teams like Alabama, Oregon and Clemson are primed to likely finish ahead of Ohio State if they remain unbeaten. So, I’m moving the Buckeyes from the BCS title game to the Rose Bowl.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
So much happened on Saturday. Where do we start with daily links? How about here, with a look at a Northwestern season that began with such promise but now is filled with questions after two losses in a row. That’s what happens when you play back-to-back games vs. arguably the Big Ten’s best teams–and not Illinois and Purdue, like Nebraska. Still, the Wildcat defeat at Wisconsin was particularly disturbing.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Another week, more changes to my power rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State were the big winners, as the Badgers went from No. 4 to No. 2, the Cornhuskers from No. 5 to No. 3 and the Spartans from No. 6 to No. 4. Penn State is also up. Week Seven wasn’t so kind to Northwestern, which dropped from No. 2 to No. 6.
There were only four Big Ten games on Saturday, but there still was a lot to learn. Wisconsin is good—very good. Purdue? Not so good. Nebraska is sitting pretty. Penn State has life. Northwestern may be on the edge. Oh, and Michigan is a team of mystery. Here’s what I learned.
There were just four Big Ten games on the docket, but there was plenty of action and drama, headlined by the early front-runner for Game of the Year: Penn State’s four-overtime thriller over Michigan. Michigan State sent a statement with a strong home win vs. Indiana, while Wisconsin showed it will be a force to be reckoned with by dominating Northwestern. Here is a wrap on Week Seven.
Michigan was living on the edge, always a dangerous place to be. It was bound to tip over at some point and catch up to the Wolverines. And, it finally did on one insane night in State College, Pa.
Game day is fast approaching, and that means it’s time for my weekly B1G grid quiz. Get out a pad of paper and your trusty No. 2 pencil. This your final chance to show that you have what it takes to maximize your enjoyment of Big Ten football this weekend. I hope you have studied and prepared well.
Every team gets four downs to make something happen. So do I. Here are four more predictions, truths, thoughts and more about the coming Saturday to get you fired up. Can Northwestern rebound at Wisconsin? Will Michigan State’s offense play well again?
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, there are only four games this week, but there still are some interesting storylines. Northwestern’s trip to Wisconsin is a good cross-division clash between schools that haven’t met since 2010. Each has lost to Ohio State this year. Can the Badgers afford a third loss already? Can the Wildcats get up for a second big game in a row?
Minnesota announced today that Jerry Kill will focus on dealing with and treating his epilepsy and not return to the sidelines for the time being. It’s not known when Kill will return to coaching, but he will be back at some point. While away from coaching, Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as acting head coach.
Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald has watched a lot of Big Ten football so far this season. He also has watched a lot of football during his illustrious career as a writer. And he has come to this conclusion: The quarterback play in the Big Ten in 2013 has been disappointing so far. I’m certainly not going to argue with him. In fact, the quarterback play in the Big Ten hasn’t been that good for years.
We are approaching the halfway mark of the season rapidly. There are just four games scheduled Saturday, the second time in the last three weeks there will be just four games. Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois are all off. In fact, this is the Fighting Illini’s second bye of the season—and the leaves are still on the trees.
Connor Cook looks like the answer to the riddle that has been the Michigan State offense. The Spartan attack went in fits and starts to begin the 2013 season with senior Andrew Maxwell as the starting quarterback. The sluggish start saw the MSU coaches mix and match signal-callers until finally anointing Cook the starter in the third game of the season vs. Youngstown State.
You have questions. And, as usual, I have answers. Yes, it’s that time of the week, time for me to reach into my mailbag. Lots of good questions, with many fans already curious about bowl destinations. Keep those cards and letters coming. I appreciate it.
This should get your attention on a Tuesday morning in early October. Interesting meetings going on at Big Ten headquarters, where league officials and conference athletic directors are discussing a possible football federation.
When the season started, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was considered by most to be a top Heisman contender. Why not?
Ohio State showed moxie and toughness in fighting back from a fourth-quarter deficit to win at Northwestern. That big victory comes a week after an impressive triumph vs. Wisconsin. Add it up, and the Buckeyes are 6-0 and still sitting in good position to advance to the BCS title game.