Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, June 17, 2013

Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, its worst since 2000. So, no doubt, a good start would help. In fact, Bryce Miller of thinks the Hawkeyes? opener Aug. 31 vs. Northern Illinois will set the tone for this oh-so-critical season.

How big and key is this opener? Miller says it?s been more than a quarter of a century since a win to kick off things for Iowa felt so necessary.

This isn?t an overstatement. A win over the Huskies, who are coming off an Orange Bowl trip, could push the Hawkeyes to a 2-0 start as they head to Iowa State for a huge clash vs. the Cyclones. If Iowa can go 4-0 in non-league play (there also are home games vs. Missouri State and Western Michigan), it could push the Hawkeyes to a strong season. And Iowa needs that, as its win total has slipped each of the last three seasons-from 11 in 2009 to 8 to 7 to 4.

OSU OFFENSE EVOLVES: Nice read from Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, who says Urban Meyer must continue to tweak the Buckeye offense to stay ahead of defenses.

One of the wrinkles: The Buckeyes will use a diamond formation that will feature Braxton Miller with a running back to each side AND behind him. Well, it?s really just a modern version of the old full-house backfield. You also can think of it as an overloaded version of the Pistol formation.

HOWARD GRIFFITH Q&A: BTN?s own Howard Griffith-an Illinois legend-sees plenty to be optimistic about for the Fighting Illini. Check out this Q&A with Griffith in the Champaign News-Gazette.

A big reason for Griffith?s optimism: The arrival of offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. I agree. Cubit will make a huge difference in what was a moribund offense in 2012.

ABOUT MICHIGAN'S QB DEPTH: Remember when Michigan was in the market for a transfer quarterback to help fill out a shallow depth chart? Well, Brady Hoke says he?s no longer shopping.

Earlier in the offseason, Hoke said Michigan would explore a graduate transfer option in an effort to get an experienced backup behind Devin Gardner. The Wolverines were in a quandary after Russell Bellomy suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring. So, Michigan's only other scholarship quarterback for next season will be true freshman Shane Morris.

MORE WOLVERINES: Oh, and Hoke says star linebacker Jake Ryan is still on progress to play in October, as he continues to make a speedy recovery from a spring knee injury. Amazing.

BADGER HOOP DREAMS: Two of my all-time fav Badgers are chasing pro hoop dreams: Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren.

I have a feeling they?ll make it-somewhere. Love the hustle and desire-and defense.

GOOD NEWS, PURDUE: High school boys all-stars from Indiana and Kentucky compete each summer in a two-game series. The Indiana all-stars pulled off a sweep recently in the storied series. And incoming Purdue recruit Bryson Scott, a 6-1 guard, played a key role.

Scott will be counted on to play a key role this winter for Purdue team coming off its first losing season since 2005-06. He?s the best player among the three freshmen who will debut next season. Kendall Stephens, the son of former Boilermakers star Everette, also will play a big role, especially as a shooter.


My take: This is a great comparison.

About Tom Dienhart 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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.