Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 14, 2012

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has missed the last two games with a right elbow issue. It has been a heck of way for his senior season to come draw to a close. What if he can?t play Saturday on Senior Day? It?s a possibility. See what Nick Baumgardner and Kyle Meinke of say about that topic-along with other Big Ten news in my daily links.

If Robinson can?t play against Iowa this weekend in the Big House, it will be unfortunate. He deserves to go out in grand fashion at a school he has played such a big role in helping to re-establish as a power in the wake of the catastrophic Rich Rodriguez era. Right now Robinson IS Michigan football, with his electric style, trademark smile and infectious energy and positive vibe.


It is time for Penn State fans to get over the fumble in the Nebraska game, says Jim Carlson of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. And I agree 1,001 percent.

Should officials have called Matt Lehman?s stretch across the goal line a touchdown instead of a fumble? Perhaps. It?s very debatable. But one this is for sure: Continuing to dwell on it does no good. And to suggest there is some type of conspiracy against Penn State is ludicrous. Let. It. Go.


With their win last week at Indiana, the Badgers already have sewn up the Leaders Division spot in the Big Ten title game. But the great Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal has a number of reasons why the Badgers still should play to win the last two games against Ohio State and at Penn State.

Not the least of which is the fact Wisconsin doesn?t want to ?back in? to the Big Ten title game. For now, Ohio State is primed to win the Leaders Division but can?t go to the title game because of probation. But the Badgers could forge a tie atop the division if they win out and the Buckeyes drop their last two games. It could happen, as Ohio State finishes vs. Michigan.

But perhaps Oates? best reason for the Badgers to push hard is this: Wisconsin needs to think about its bowl destination should it lose in the title game and fail to reach the Rose Bowl. If the Badgers finish out 0-2, they would be 4-4 in the Big Ten and 7-5 overall. An additional loss in the conference title game would seriously damage their attractiveness to the bowls in the Big Ten pecking order.


Iowa must win its last two games to become bowl eligible. And it may be tough to do with games left at Michigan and vs. Nebraska. It the Hawkeyes don?t make it to a fifth bowl in succession, they will look back on their record in close games with regret, says Ryan Suchomel of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The Hawkeyes lead the country in games decided by three points or less, as four of Iowa?s six losses have come by three points or less. And it?s the first time in school annals that Iowa has had six games this close. The previous high in these close of games was five back in 2009, when Iowa was 4-1. Iowa has had 22 games decided by three points or less over the past four years. Over the past three years, Iowa is 3-9. If not for the close-game failings in 2012, the Hawkeyes may be 8-2 instead of 4-6. And there would be a lot more smiles around Iowa City.


Even if Ohio State finished perfect and was eligible for the postseason, it likely would be on the outside looking in at the BCS title game if Oregon, Kansas State and/or Notre Dame also finished unbeaten. Why? Lack of schedule strength and poor AP ranking. So, where would Ohio State likely be headed? The Rose Bowl vs. the Fighting Irish, says Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

You think a matchup between an unbeaten Ohio State and unbeaten Notre Dame would have drawn a big TV audience and sold out?


Minnesota freshman quarterback Philip Nelson got a chance to talk to Joel Sambursky after the Gophers? win at Illinois last week. Who is Joel Sambursky, you ask? A former quarterback at Southern Illinois whom Jerry Kill coached while with the Salukis. He?s also the best leader Kill has ever coached, says Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.

?He was in the same situation," Nelson told Fuller. "He said, 'You just have to trust in coach Kill and do everything he says because he really knows what he's talking about.' It's a nice little reassurance there. Along with (that) comes a lot of hard work. He said: 'It isn't easy. It's something that's not going to happen overnight.' "


The great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette asks the question: What?s wrong with the Illini? His response: How long have you got?
Look at some of the numbers:

  • Illinois is No. 105 in the nation in passing (175.0 ypg).
  • Illinois is No. 99 in the nation in rushing (123.5 ypg).
  • Illinois is No. 104 in the nation in sacks allowed (34).

The offense just hasn?t gotten on track. No doubt, there are personnel shortcomings, especially along the line. But an unconventional arrangement at coordinator also deserves scrutiny. The Illinois offense features one coordinator (Chris Beatty) calling plays on first and second downs; and the other (Billy Gonzales) calling plays on third downs. I suppose this could work, but it seems very unconventional.


My take: The latest hub-bub has connected Bo Pelini to Arkansas, should that job open-which it probably will. No doubt, Pelini is becoming a hot commodity with each successive win.

My take: Yes, soon that all-time TD mark will belong to Montee Ball. Amazing.

My take: I would be shocked, absolutely stunned, if Bill O?Brien left Penn State after one year. He doesn?t strike me as a guy who would bail so quickly, given the rhetoric he has spewed along with the ample time and energy he already has invested. Just preposterous. 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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