Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 20, 2013

It?s that time of the week again, time for Four Downs, an informative and fun look at the Saturday ahead.

No, it?s not a big Saturday, as there is a dearth of marquee games among the 10 on the docket. Nonetheless, some zany things could happen.

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1. ?Cheers? will outnumber ?jeers? when Bo Pelini jogs onto the Memorial Stadium field on Saturday for the Huskers? game vs. South Dakota State. Cornhuskers fans have short memories, right?

2. Michigan won?t get beat at UConn. No how, no way. Brady Hoke won?t let it happen. Not after last week?s near disastrous loss at home to lowly Akron. Hoke?s players will hang on his every word and he?ll have their undivided attention.

3. Iowa running back/battering ram Mark Weisman will carry the ball-a lot. Why not? The formula has been working along Melrose Ave. He paces the Big Ten with 85 carries. The next closest: Ohio State?s Jordan Hall with 64 totes.

4. Every player who dresses for Ohio State?s game this Saturday vs. FCS Florida A&M will play. Even the backup long snapper. But if there?s a ?battle of the bands,? I?m going with FAMU. Sorry, TBDBITL.


1. Notre Dame is gonna have issues running the ball on Michigan State. The Spartans allowed 11 yards rushing to Western Michigan; 89 yards to South Florida; 56 yards to Youngstown State. ND had 96 yards rushing vs. Michigan and 91 vs. Purdue. (I?m disregarding the 188 vs. Temple.)

2. I can?t wait for these games vs. FCS foes to vanish from Big Ten schedules. There are three-count ?em, three!-such games this Saturday, with Maine at Northwestern; South Dakota State at Nebraska; Florida A&M at Ohio State. The only winners: The FCS schools, which get a fat check.

3. Michigan?s near-loss to Akron may have been the best thing to happen to Big Ten coaches. Now, each coach can point to that near epic loss by the Wolverines and tell his players that they have to take every foe seriously-and not be snickered at or just plain ignored.

4. The last team with the ball in the Missouri at Indiana game will be the winner. Drink lots of water, bring a seat cushion and enjoy! This is gonna be the most fun game of Saturday.

[ MORE: Best of Week 4: MSU-Notre Dame matchup has it all ]


1. Western Michigan is 2-0 vs. Iowa and 6-38 vs. the rest of the Big Ten. This is amazing. The loss to the Broncos in 2007 kept the Hawkeyes out of a bowl game. The coach of that WMU team? Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.

2. Minnesota is going to give up some yards to San Jose State?s David Fales. According to, Fales is the No. 8 quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft. He?s the No. 4 senior signal-caller on the CBS list.

3. Purdue is going to struggle to score at Wisconsin, which has a talented front seven. The Boilermakers are last in the Big Ten in scoring (17.0 ppg); last in total offense (268.0 ypg); last in rushing offense (79.0 ypg); ninth in passing offense (189.0 ypg). Get the picture?

4. Wisconsin will score on at least one 50-yard run. Melvin Gordon is the most likely to go the distance. He?s averaging 12.9 yards per carry while pacing the Big Ten with 477 yards rushing. Yes, he?s the next stud Badger running back, if you hadn?t already figured that out.


What?s a ?jockstrap game,? you ask? All a team needs to do is throw its jockstrap onto the field and-voila!-a victory will appear.

1. Ohio State over Florida A&M

2. Northwestern over Maine

3. Nebraska over South Dakota State

4. Alabama over Colorado State

[ MORE: Dienhart: My Week 4 Big Ten previews ]


Thanks, STATS!

1. Indiana is showing off an impressive quick-strike offense this season, scoring a touchdown on six drives that took a minute or less. Only Baylor and Arkansas State (7 each) have more.

2. Northwestern?s five-game streak of converting at least half of its third downs is the longest active streak in the FBS. The last Big Ten team to convert at least 50 percent of its third downs in six straight games was Purdue in 2004.

3. Nebraska is second in the nation in touchdown drives allowed of less than two minutes with 10. Buffalo (13) is the only school with more.

4. Mark Weisman's 425 rushing yards are the most through Iowa?s first three games since Fred Russell had 471 rushing yards in Iowa?s first three games in 2002.


Alternate uniforms continue to be all the rage. And, I have to admit, we?ve seen some pretty wild stuff. I wish each team had a version of a chrome helmet. On that subject, here are some alternate helmets I?d like to see.

1. Purdue: Boilermaker Special on each side with a train track running down the middle. Or Purdue Pete, or a ?P? with sledgehammer. I can?t believe this is taking so long.

2. Wisconsin: The iconic chesty Bucky Badger striding with purpose.

3. Nebraska: An ear of corn. C?mon, I can?t be the only guy who has thought of this. Let?s see it.

4. Ohio State: Outline of the state of Ohio with a Buckeye marking Columbus.

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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