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John Shoop long has admired Purdue’s offensive tradition from afar. Now, he gets a chance to add to that tradition by pushing the buttons on the Boilermakers’ attack under first-year coach Darrell Hazell.
The struggles of the Michigan State offense last season are well-documented. Points were difficult to come by for an attack that lost five games by a total of 13 points. All the while, quarterback play came under scrutiny. Michigan State quarterbacks coach Brad Salem says the competition between Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook is “pretty even.”
First-year coach Darrell Hazell has his work cut out for him, playing arguably the toughest schedule in the Big Ten. There is no more challenging non-conference schedule in the conference, with a trip to Big East co-champ Cincinnati and home games vs. Notre Dame (BCS title game) and Northern Illinois (Orange Bowl). Getting one Big Ten road victory may be a difficult proposition, too. Bottom line: A 1-6 start isn’t out of the question.
The biggest spring football star in the Big Ten may have been a 7-year-old. Jack Hoffman is a cancer patient who stole the hearts of America and the show at the Nebraska spring game, taking a handoff and racing 69 yards for a touchdown. Highlights of the run went viral, as little Jack’s story swept the nation.
The age-old question is being asked again: Should college football have two signing periods? One in, say, July or August, and the other in February. I’d love for there to be two signing periods. Let Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads tell you why he doesn’t think two signing periods will happen.
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Bill O’Brien’s debut was a success, as Penn State finished 8-4 after opening 0-2 during a season wrapped in tumult. But the Nittany Lions may be in for a long season, as the effects of NCAA probation begin to sink in. Penn State will operate with just 67 scholarships, so any attrition could be devastating for a team that’s still ineligible for the postseason or to win the league championship.
The Detroit Free Press has a neat piece that chronicles the salaries of Big Ten assistant coaches. Look here and here.
Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, the program’s worst since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. That has some fans antsy. Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register sat down with the Hawkeyes boss to discuss a variety of topics for a program that has seen its win total fall from 11 to 8 to 7 to 4 each of the last four seasons.
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Some think Ohio State is the best team not just in the Big Ten but perhaps the best team in the nation as it comes off a 12-0 debut under Urban Meyer. A wealth of talent is one reason for optimism, as the Buckeyes are NCAA probation-free and eligible to win the Big Ten and BCS crowns. A favorable schedule is another reason for optimism. Ohio State should be favored in every game but one in 2013: the season finale at Michigan on Nov. 30.
It’s the time of week when I reach into my mailbag. Another good batch of correspondence from BTN readers and viewers. I appreciate all of the cards and letters. Keep them coming.
Most every key component from last year’s team that went 10-3 and won the school’s first bowl since the Stone Age — OK, the 1948 season — is back. Good, because this schedule is a doozy. In fact, starting 2-0 won’t be a given, with a trip to Cal and visit from Syracuse, which lost a crazy 42-41 game at home to the Wildcats last season, on tap to open the season. Big Ten schools switched cross-division foes this season, and no school had a less advantageous swap then NU.
It’s a slow, steady process, but the Minnesota offense is coming on as Jerry Kill continues to put his mark on the program entering his third year in the Twin Cities. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover’s attack ranked 10th in the Big Ten in 2012 (321.4 ypg). And the offense was ninth in scoring (22.1 ppg).
Newcomer Rutgers will take part in the first Big Ten game of 2014 when it plays host to Penn State on Sept. 13. That’s one of several interesting matchups in the schedule, which was announced today. The 2014 schedule will be the first season with Maryland and Rutgers in the conference. The 2014 season also will see the Big Ten split into new East and West Divisions.
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The cry for November night games seems to be gaining steam. Oh, they are coming. Could the sacrosanct Michigan-Ohio State ever be played at night? Buckeye athletic director Gene Smith is against it. Me, too. But, heck, I’m against all night games. “It’ll be noon,” Smith told reporters at the recent Big Ten meetings. “I have to be open to 3:30, but noon is my favorite time for that one.”
When Jim Delany speaks, people listen.
At the recent Big Ten athletic director meetings, the possible future bowl schedule began to come into focus as the league’s current bowl deals end after the 2013 season. It’s all about geography, Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press points out. The Big Ten wants to spread its brand coast-to-coast. It has been reported that the Big Ten will share tie-ins with the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl with the ACC during a six-year agreement, playing SEC opponents in both games.
Things set up well for Nebraska, which opens with five games at home and doesn’t leave Lincoln until Oct. 12 (at Purdue). It wouldn’t be a shock if Nebraska is 8-0 when it travels to Michigan on Nov. 9 in the only game the Huskers may not be favored in all season. Bottom line: This schedule greases the skids for Nebraska’s return trip to the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers pursue the program’s first conference title since 1999.
This schedule is built for success – at least the first half of it. It opens with four of the first five games coming at home. And Minnesota should be favored in each one. Could the Golden Gophers be 5-0 when they travel to Michigan on Oct. 5? Hmm. And—don’t look now—but Minnesota has a good chance to be 5-3 when it plays at Indiana on Nov. 2. But a loss to the improving Hoosiers would make getting a sixth win very difficult with a challenging last few games.
A lot went on at the Big Ten athletic directors meetings that concluded today in Chicago. Here’s a nice summation from Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and another here from Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal.
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At its spring meetings in Chicago, the Big Ten may discuss if it should have divisional play in basketball, as Rutgers and Maryland are set to join the league in 2014 to make the conference a 14-team entity. My advice: The Big Ten should take a lead from the other major conferences—ACC (12 teams), SEC (14), Pac-12 (12), old Big East (15), Atlantic 10 (16)–and not have divisional play.
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According to reports, the Big Ten bowl picture is supposed to change. And the first alterations are leaking out. Here’s what’s being talked about: the Big Ten and ACC will share the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl between 2014 and 2019 — with each conference to appear in each game three times during that span vs. the SEC.
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The schedule is pretty kind to a Michigan State program coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw MSU lose five games by a combined 13 points. If the Spartans can win at Notre Dame on Sept. 21, they could be 8-0 when they welcome Michigan on Nov. 2.
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Once the college football yearbooks hit the newsstand—and it has to be any day now—I expect to see six Big Ten teams in most Top 25s. And look for them to be in this order: Ohio State; Nebraska; Michigan; Wisconsin; Northwestern; Michigan State.