Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 25, 2012

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.

Good hands: Up to this point, Michigan State tight end Dion Sims had done little in his career due to injuries primarily. But he has taken flight this season, emerging as a top target for the Spartans and perhaps the best tight end in the Big Ten.

Badger backs: When Montee Ball went out with injury last week and James White came on and excelled, it wasn?t a shock. White is a speedy back with a 1,000-yard season to his credit. He and redshirt freshman Melvin Gordon, who also looked good on Saturday, can carry the load.

But it sounds like there?s a chance Ball could play this Saturday at Nebraska. But should the star senior play after suffering his second concussion in less than two months? Watch these BadgerBeat writers discuss the issue.

What do you think? Despite the ugly losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, despite the 2-2 record, and despite the questions about Denard Robinson and his development as a passer and decision maker, Michigan STILL can win the Big Ten.

I?ll let you decide if that means Michigan is a talented team that?s still developing or if the Big Ten is just mediocre-or perhaps it could be a little of both.

Turnaround time: Shameful? Minnesota football? No more.

This has been a fun ride through the first four weeks of the season for the Golden Gophers. Now comes a trip to Iowa to play a Hawkeye program that Minnesota has beaten two seasons in a row for the coveted Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Another victory there and the dreams will get even bigger in the Twin Cities. And I don?t know if I can handle it. I?m lovin? it!

All aboard: Anyone who has watched Ohio State knows what Braxton Miller means to the offense. In a word, he?s ?everything.? In fact, no offense this side of Ann Arbor may be more reliant on one player to do so much. The great Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Miller is Ohio State?s best (if not only) option at winning time, when the chips are down and a play needs to be made.

But how long can this one-man show go on? Well, as long as Miller stays healthy, the Buckeyes could ride him to the division crown.

Faster, faster: Yes, the Nebraska defense has looked good the last two games vs.-ahem–Arkansas State and Idaho State after the unit was scorched for 653 yards at UCLA. But the Husker defense still could use more speed.

Corey Cooper and Ciante Evans have emerged as key players the last two weeks in multi-defensive backs schemes used to combat quick-paced spread attacks. But with the physical Wisconsin Badgers coming to town, neither may be on the field much, as the Husker defense looks to muscle up. But would it be wise to not play Cooper and Evans a lot, given the way they have performed? Some think Evans has been the Huskers? most consistent defender all season.

Get in line: There have quarterback issues at several schools already this season. Now, Illinois may have to deal with a ?controversy.? Here?s a breakdown of Nathan Scheelhaase, Reilly O?Toole and Miles Osei. Where do I stand? I say go with Scheelhaase. He embodies the best combination of passing/running of the trio. And you can?t beat his experience.


My take: This is something I didn?t think I would read now back in August.

My take:High praise coming from a two-time national champ and former SEC coaching king.

My take: Ah, nothing like a big game to put Michigan State into ?bunker? mode. The Spartans did this last year before the Ohio State and Iowa games-and won them both.

My take: My question: Why wouldn?t it be?

My take: If Northwestern beats Indiana this Saturday and moves to 5-0, it just may crack the polls-maybe.

My take: A lot of respect for the Boilers! This Marshall attack will be a nice test for a stout Purdue defense. I can?t wait. senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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