The Gophers can thank one specific unit for their early rise this season. Wisconsin has a new face in the backfield and he looks electric. Penn State does something interesting with their offensive lineman each week, and the Wisconsin-Nebraska game is becoming a new rivalry. And where is Nebraska looking when it comes to finding a new athletic director? Read about all of this and more in today’s Big Ten links.
Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
Are the scheduling gods against Penn State? Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror thinks that may be the case. The Nittany Lions are starting Big Ten play on the road for the third consecutive years and seventh time in nine years. Conversely, Ohio State has started Big Ten play with a home game 14 times in the last 20 years.
Looky here: After an 0-2 start, Penn State is now 2-2 as we sit on the doorstep of Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions have some mojo as they head to Illinois on Saturday. Could this team win the Leaders Division? Hmmmm. If the offense keeps playing well under the leadership of surprising quarterback Matt McGloin, it could happen. No Big Ten quarterback is passing the ball better. Simply amazing. Read those Penn State links and find more of the Tuesday headlines from around the Big Ten further down in this post.
My Monday links include some good and provocative pieces from my various colleagues in the Big Ten press corps. Here’s one: Bench Michigan QB Denard Robinson? Are you serious? It’s an idea that the great Kyle Meinke of MLive.com discusses in this interesting piece. Yes, Robinson has had some tough outings against quality foes—including his recent five-interception effort at Notre Dame. But he’ll still leave Michigan as one of the Big Ten’s best players ever.
If Penn State is going to have any shot for success in the future, it will need a strong walk-on program. Bill O’Brien recently conducted walk-on tryouts, and the turnout was good. O’Brien estimated that about 65 people tried out at the recent work out. I think the Nittany Lions may find some players who could help the program down the road in a football-mad state that produces a lot of good prospects. That’s the first of my Friday links – read the rest of this post for more.
Ohio State is blitzing more. Michigan wants more sacks, too. Michigan State needs receivers and Iowa welcomes a soft spot in the schedule. And what price does a coach pay in recruiting battles? Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema gives his take. Check out these headlines and more in my daily links.
Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
Lots of questions in today’s Big Ten headlines. Will Rex Burkhead play this weekend? How dangerous is this upcoming opponent for Illinois? What does Michigan’s Brady Hoke think about the future of the series against Notre Dame? Find those items and plenty more in my links in this post.
A stay at the hospital provided Nebraska coach Bo Pelini with a new perspective. The pressure to win can be incredible in college football—especially at a place like Nebraska. Especially coming off a horrible defensive effort at UCLA. But when Pelini was taken away to the hospital during the game last Saturday against Arkansas State to be examined after not feeling well—the game didn’t seem so important. This got me thinking.
Week 3 games are almost here and I take one last weekday spin around today’s headlines in this post. What do people think about Nebraska’s defense? Why does Minnesota have to watch out? And how can Fitz Toussaint regain his form? Also, if you’re interested, my game previews are over here.
In my Wednesday edition of Big Ten links, I’ve found a hearty offering headlines from around the conference. Through two weekends the stats don’t look so good for the Big Ten, but there’s time to turn that around. Even if he’s able to play, maybe Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase should sit Saturday out. And Nebraska’s defense has struggled on third downs, but why? All that and more in this post.
In the first batch of daily links this week, many Big Ten teams showed areas of concern on what was a—ahem—a “Black Saturday,” as Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald writes. For me, the biggest shock was Wisconsin getting unceremoniously dumped at Oregon State, 10-7. Wisconsin, which averaged 44 points a game last season, came within two minutes of getting blanked in the defeat at Oregon State, which ranked 84th in total defense in 2011.
It turns out Ohio State and Penn State do have something to play for this season, despite being on NCAA probation and ineligible to win the Big Ten or go to a bowl game. The Big Ten has said if either team finishes first in the Leaders Division, it will be awarded with the division trophy and be deemed “Leaders champion.”
In today’s Big Ten Links I found a number of must-reads, including a good one on Penn State. Which direction is this fragile Penn State going to go after its gut-wrenching season-opening loss to Ohio? To keep the team together, coach Bill O’Brien has to stress the positives. Really, there is no other choice.
There were a lot of positive things from Nebraska’s 49-20 win over Southern Miss. But special teams? Well, some adjustments are coming. A big issue was a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The good for the Huskers, according to special teams coach Ross Els: These things can be fixed. That’s good, because this could be a special season in Lincoln.
Started off this holiday Monday surfing the Big Ten headlines and came across a handful of great pieces, including a look at the blueprint for stopping Michigan’s Denard Robinson after Alabama muted the star in a 41-14 dominance of the Wolverines on Saturday night. The secret? The key? Make Robinson a pocket passer. In his game against the Crimson Tide, he hit just 11-of-26 passes for 200 yards with two picks. Even worse, Robinson ran 10 times for 27 yards. As Kyle Meinke of MLive.com points out, this strategy seems to have been perfected by Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
Most pundits agree: Michigan is an underdog—perhaps a big underdog—in its game vs. Alabama this Saturday in Arlington, Texas. But, history has shown us that the Wolverines can succeed vs. the mighty SEC, winners of the past six BCS national titles. Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com has taken a neat look at five memorable Wolverine games vs. SEC foes, the first of a handful of Big Ten news links you should read the day before our first college football Saturday of the season.
When we watch Illinois, much figures to be different, says the venerable Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette. One of the biggest differences will be on special teams, which had been, well, awful the last few seasons under Ron Zook. There is now a special teams coach in Tim Salem, who is one of the best in the business. It’s little details like this that could pay off big as the Illini begin a new era under Tim Beckman.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez says he’s excited to show the progress of the Husker offense, and that’s good, because the attack must show improvement if Nebraska is to reach the goals some think it can attain. I just think with this being the second year under coordinator Tim Beck, the attack should be better. Plus, there are some nice weapons, including a deep collection of receivers and stud running back Rex Burkhead. Now let’s get to some more Big Ten links.
We’re down to the final stop of the annual BTN summer football tour. Today, we’re taking in Michigan practice, and then we’re headed back home. It’s been an incredible trip across the Big Ten footprint, and it’s been great to see all the teams, all the coaches and all the campuses. Read all my tour coverage here and check out Thursday’s web links in this post.
Two stops remain on BTN’s annual summer bus tour. Today, we’re at Michigan State, the reigning Legends Division champ, and then we head to instate rival Michigan before heading back to Chicago. It’s been a fun journey across the Big Ten landscape. Read all my tour coverage here and check out Wednesday’s web links in this post.
After taking in Penn State practice Monday, we’re headed back west. To East Lansing, Mich., to be exact. We have two stops remaining on our annual tour, and it will be great to see Michigan State and Michigan. You can find all of my tour previews and recaps over here. I’m also providing updates via Twitter. Don’t forget to check out my colleagues @BTNDaveRevsine, @GerryDiNardo, and @HowardGriffith, too. Now, let’s get to my Tuesday links.