Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 12, 2013

It?s quiz time! Clear your desks and get out your No. 2 pencil. Game day is almost here! To get you ready, take this pop quiz that will help get you up to speed for all the action on what shapes up as a terrific Saturday of games–a Saturday that will go a long way toward shaping public opinion about the Big Ten.

1. Which 2-0 Big Ten is most dubious?

A. Wisconsin

B. Illinois

C. Minnesota

D. Nebraska

E. Michigan State

Answer: It has to be Wisconsin. Now, before you go firing off an angry e-mail or making some nasty post on a fan site about this story, hear me out. The Badgers have beaten a UMass team that until last season was a FCS member. And Wisconsin has whipped a FCS team in Tennessee Tech. The good news: The Badgers ripped these teams apart like they should have, outscoring them an aggregate, 93-0. But, honestly, no 2-0 Big Ten has opened with two softer opponents.

2. We already have seen the value of a good backup quarterback at places like Ohio State, Indiana and Northwestern. Which Big Ten school has the shakiest backup quarterback situation?

A. Iowa

B. Purdue

C. Michigan

D. Nebraska

Answer: C. Purdue (Austin Appleby) and Iowa (C.J. Beathard) each have a redshirt freshman backup who at least has been on campus a year. Nebraska may be in the best shape of these schools with senior Ron Kellogg, who has 14 career passes. That leaves Michigan and Morris. Yes, he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, according to He?s very talented with a bright future. But, he?s a true freshman. And, we all know the foibles of a true freshman quarterback-though Christian Hackenberg is looking awfully good at Penn State. Morris played in a season-opening 59-9 massacre vs. Central Michigan, hitting 4-of-6 passes for 59 yards and an interception. If Devin Gardner is hurt and Morris has to come in, the Wolverine offense would lose a lot of dynamic athletic ability.

3. True False: Minnesota's Jerry Kill is the early leader for Big Ten Coach of the Year honors?

Answer: False. Yes, Kill has done a fine job in forging a 2-0 start. But Illinois? Tim Beckman gets the nod–for now. Look, the guy was coming off a 2-10 debut in 2012 that saw the Fighting Illini go 0-8 in the Big Ten and lose their last nine games. Expectations were impossibly low entering 2013. But, look here: Illinois is 2-0, already matching last season?s win total! Yes, the season-opening 42-34 win over FCS Southern Illinois left many thinking 2013 was going to look a lot like 2012 in Champaign. But, Illinois' 45-17 win over Cincinnati last week was one of the most impressive efforts by any team in the Big Ten thus far. More importantly: It has many thinking this is a bowl team. Much of the credit goes to new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. Illinois is No. 5 in the Big Ten in total offense (493.0 ypg). Last year, the Illini were No. 12 (294.2).

4. True or False: If the Big Ten splits its four games with Pac-12 this Saturday, it will be a disappointment.

Answer: False. I expect Ohio State to win at Cal. I also think Nebraska will win a high-scoring game with UCLA. But I don?t think Illinois is ready to handle Washington in Chicago?s Soldier Field. And Wisconsin will melt in Tempe taking on a very good Arizona State squad that has a strong offense led by quarterback Taylor Kelly.

5. How many yards will Nebraska?s defense allow to UCLA?

A. Less than 300

B. Between 300-400

C. Between 400-500

D. Between 500-600

E. Over 600

Answer: C. In case you forgot, UCLA burned Nebraska for 653 yards in a 36-30 win over the Cornhuskers last season in Pasadena. Well, little has changed about the Bruin offense, which again is led by quarterback Brett Hundley. The sophomore sensation hit 22-of-33 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns in helping UCLA notch 647 yards in a season-opening 58-20 win over Nevada this season. He hit 21-of-33 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns last year vs. the Huskers. Yes, Nebraska has a lot of new talent along its front seven and a strong secondary. But, I still think UCLA will get its share of yards.

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.