The calendar says “October,” and I can’t believe it. The season is almost halfway over, with most of the best action yet to come in November. I can tell by your cards and letters that you are excited. Keep the correspondence coming! Let’s dig into this week’s Mailbag!
Another week, another round of quarterback uncertainty for Nebraska. Taylor Martinez missed the Huskers’ last game with a toe injury. They didn’t need him in an easy win over South Dakota State. Coming off a bye week, Martinez’s status is still balky for this Saturday’s visit from Illinois.
It’s never too early to make postseason plans, right? Yes, it is. Well, forget all of that and play along with me in my weekly bowl projections. It’s fun to play make-believe! Iowa was the biggest mover in my weekly bowl prognostications, as I now have the Hawkeyes in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where they would play Baylor. Minnesota fell to the Little Caesar’s Bowl—if it is able to reach bowl eligibility, which could be difficult.
Good Monday morning, America! Grab your Big Gulp and something under the heat lamp on a roller. There’s a lot to get through today and this week.
Quality over quantity was the theme Saturday in the Big Ten, which had just four games. The marquee matchup between Wisconsin and Ohio State lived up to its billing, as the Buckeyes reaffirmed that they are the best team in the conference. Iowa and Illinois also showed they mean business, as each program continues to surprise. Purdue? Well, it’s gonna be a long season in West Lafayette. See what I learned this Saturday.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
With six schools off and just four games that featured no upsets, there was little movement in my weekly Big Ten power rankings, presented by ArcelorMittal. Iowa was the biggest winner, jumping three spots from No. 9 to No. 6. Conversely, Minnesota fell like a rock from No. 6 to No. 10. Here is my latest Power Poll.
There were just four games this Saturday, but that doesn’t mean there was any lack of action. Ohio State showed that it means business, and Iowa’s methodical victory at Minnesota sent a message: The Hawkeyes are over the doldrums of a 4-8 2012 season. Here is my wrap up on Week 5 in the Big Ten.
How good is Ohio State? The question was posed, oh, at least 14,328 times since the start of the season.
Are you ready, ladies and gentlemen? The time has arrived for you to take my weekly Big Ten quiz. There is no better way to prepare for Saturday, right? So, clear your desk, turn off your cell phone and focus. Your score will go on your permanent record.
Do some one-stop-shopping right here for Week 5 of the Big Ten season in my Four Downs feature. There are predictions, thoughts, truths and more. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll come back for more. Critics are raving.
Here comes Darien Moran with his red Wisconsin “W” hat flipped backward over his closely cropped hair. Typical 14-year-old, bounding with energy at the start of a new day. Anything seems possible to a teen, even something as big as overcoming a rare disease. And that’s good because that’s exactly what Darien is doing.
There are just four games this Saturday—FOUR! Quite a come down from the 10- and 12-game weeks we had become accustomed to at the start of the season. The reason for the truncated schedule? Byes. Half of the teams are off. Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern all will catch their breath following four non-conference games.
Among the latest Big Ten headlines: This pay-for-play argument in college athletics won’t go away. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany discusses the issue here, and Delany makes many good points. I just don’t know where all of this is going. Part of me wants to see players get compensated—but I think the only players who should are ones in revenue-generating sports: football and men’s basketball.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Conference play kicked off last week, with Wisconsin blasting Purdue. This Saturday, there are two more Big Ten games: Iowa at Minnesota and Wisconsin at Ohio State.
The season is four weeks old, and I’m not sure who is going to win the Legends Division. True, the race looked muddled before the season began, with pundits typically tabbing Michigan or Nebraska to take the banner. But, cases also could have been made for Northwestern and Michigan State. Conversely, the Leaders Division looks like a two-team race between Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Coming off a 4-8 season, Iowa faced many questions as 2013 dawned. One of the biggest: Who would play quarterback with James Vandenberg gone? Jake Rudock emerged from a three-man battle in training camp. And the Hawkeyes haven’t looked back in forging a 3-1 start.
It wasn’t long ago when many felt Penn State would be an afterthought for a decade after severe NCAA sanctions were handed down. Well, news that the NCAA was going to ease scholarship limitations initially in place as part of penalties for the Jerry Sandusky scandal means that notion already may be antiquated.
It’s time for me to reach into my mailbag to answer the questions that are pressing your mind as we chug into the teeth of Big Ten season. The cards and letters keep streaming in. Thanks. Keep ‘em coming. Now, let’s get to your latest Big Ten queries, ranging from Kenny Guiton’s NFL prospects to Sam Ficken’s improvement.
The NCAA has taken a lot of criticism of late, and rightly so, with the Miami (Fla.) case feeding the fury of NCAA critics who howl for reform or the organization’s outright banishment.
Heeeeee’sssss baaaaccckkk! Ohio State superman Braxton Miller has been cleared to play Saturday vs. Wisconsin. If he practices well this week, he’ll start, says Urban Meyer. Miller’s timing is great, as Ohio State has a big game vs. Wisconsin on Saturday in Columbus. Miller has missed the last two-plus games with a MCL injury to his left knee. In fact, he’s played just one series in the last three games.
We have reached the one-third mark of the 2013 season. Where has the time gone? Last time I looked up from my keyboard, the kids still were splashing in the neighborhood swimming pool and the Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention. Wait, that last item happened back in June. Forget it. You get the point.
No big shakeups in my weekly bowl projections. The biggest is Wisconsin leaping past Michigan into the Capital One bowl, clashing with LSU. Of course, these schools will meet in season-opening games in 2014 (at Houston’s Reliant Stadium) and 2016 (at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field). Minnesota also has moved up to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where I have it playing Baylor.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Let the hype begin on this week’s Wisconsin at Ohio State game! It’s a massive showdown in the Leaders Division. In fact, let’s go ahead and call it what it is, OK? A de facto Leaders Division championship game. That’s correct: The winner of this game almost assuredly will win the division and advance to the Big Ten title game to play who knows who?
It was a busy Saturday in the Big Ten, with 10 games taking place. Michigan continues to live dangerously, no team runs like Wisconsin, Nebraska still loves Bo and the Michigan State offense still has a ways to go. I learned a lot. Take a look.