Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 13, 2013

We sit on the precipice of a big Saturday for the Big Ten. No, it?s a HUGE Saturday for the Big Ten, which has an opportunity to impress with four big games vs. the Pac-12. The biggest: UCLA?s visit to Nebraska. What could be key to Nebraska slowing down UCLA?s offense? Freshmen along the front seven, led by linebacker Josh Banderas.

In my latest weekday spin around the Big Ten headlines, I found where Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star says Banderas remembers seeing (and cringing at) what everyone else across the state saw (and cringed at) that night: The Bruins getting their quick, skill-position players in open space, and Nebraska defenders, more often than not, unable to tackle them in one-on-one situations.

The result was 653 total yards by UCLA, roughly 300 of them coming after initial contact, according to Nebraska coaches? film study. UCLA most frequency attacked at linebacker, where Banderas, a Nebraska true freshman, has one career start (at the MIKE position).

?I?m ready for it,? Banderas said. ?If they throw at me, I?ll be ready for it.?

Speaking of the big UCLA at Nebraska game, here is a good podcast from Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald on the game, offering good stats and analysis. Plus, some free ponderings.


Connor Cook will start at quarterback for Michigan State vs. Youngstown State. But the BIG question: Will true freshman quarterback Damion Terry play?

The foe Cook will face in Youngstown State is from the FCS ranks. And, if Big Ten commish Jim Delany has his way, his league won?t play FCS schools in the future. Here, listen and watch him explain at the Lansing Economic Club luncheon.

It all makes perfect sense.


This is too great: In honor of Michigan coach Brady Hoke, students will get donuts at Saturday?s home game vs. Akron. Hoke likes glazed donuts. His other favs: nuts, bowties and "maybe a raspberry jelly."

Where else can you get info like this? Save me one with custard inside. Thanks.


A little hoops for your football Friday. It looks like Michigan has the toughest non-conference schedule among Big Ten teams, at least according to one outlet. That?s good. Because, last year?s non-con slate wasn?t too tough. John Beilein?s young squad will benefit from the challenges.


It seems selling tickets to Penn State games has gotten much more difficult. This miffs me.

According to Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle, the Nittany Lions drew an announced crowd of 92,363 last week for their win over Eastern Michigan, the lowest attendance for a home opener since 1990 when the capacity was 83,370. There might have been 80,000 in the stands.

Penn State officials have been forced to come up with promotions and incentives for the public to buy tickets, something longtime followers of the program thought they'd never see.

More Penn State: Its atrociousness on third-down conversions (2-for-26) can be traced to issues on first and second downs. On average this year, Penn State has had to gain 8.64 yards on third downs. That?s too much to ask. But, the Nittany Lions are 2-0. So, what the heck.


What am I most fascinated to watch in the Wisconsin at Arizona State game? The Badger defensive backs. How will they hold up vs. a good passing game?

"With the three-down that they're doing, I think we have some good lanes and leverage on their front seven," ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly said of facing Wisconsin?s new 3-4 scheme. "I love our game plan and using our offensive line and our running backs. And they've got to stop our outside with the speed and the receivers we have."


Take a look at what the coaches at Iowa (and Iowa State) make per annum in photo gallery form.



My take: C?mon. That?s like whistling past the graveyard. This isn?t a normal game.

My take: Don?t forget your fat wallet. You?re gonna need that, too.

My take: No doubt, Allen Robinson is good. Very good.

My take: Not ideal for the Badgers.

My take: Hey, we have to try, right?

My take: No sweat. He won?t be needed vs. Western Michigan.

My take: At a time? That may help vs. Notre Dame.


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.

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