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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.
The BTN bus tour has entered the final stretch, with three stops remaining. Today, we’re at Penn State to get our first look at the Nittany Lions under Bill O’Brien. 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 Monday links.
I’m still on the road with the Big Ten Football Preview Tour, and we’ll be taking in Illinois practice today. At 10 p.m. ET tonight, catch our Indiana Preview Show. Read all my coverage from the tour here. I’m also providing updates and photos via Twitter. Don’t forget to check out my colleagues @BTNDaveRevsine, @GerryDiNardo, and @HowardGriffith, too. Now, let’s get to my Friday links.