Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 27, 2013

Are you ready, ladies and gentlemen? The time has arrived for you to take my weekly Big Ten quiz. There is no better way to prepare for Saturday, right? So, clear your desk, turn off your cell phone and focus. Your score will go on your permanent record.

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1. True or false: Michigan?s offense is more dysfunctional than Michigan State?s?

Answer: False. The Spartan attack is in worse shape than the Wolverine offense. I think Michigan State coaches have tried most of what they can try to fix a sputtering offense, emptying their proverbial idea bucket. The quarterback spot is an unmitigated mess. Andrew Maxwell has started ? Connor Cook has started ? Maxwell has been pulled ? Tyler O?Connor has played ? Cook has been pulled ? Maxwell has been put back in ? Cook will start again ? Got all of that? Oh, and the receivers have been shuffled and running backs have rotated in search of a winning, consistent combination. Alas, nothing has sparked the offense. That 55-point outburst vs. a FCS foe was pure folly. Conversely, Michigan knows it has a talent in Devin Gardner, who showed the first two games he can be special. It?s just a matter of coaching him up. And the Wolverines? options at running back and receiver are more proven and just plain better than at MSU.

2. Which team has the most to prove on Saturday?

A. Ohio State

B. Wisconsin

C. Iowa

D. Minnesota

Answer: C. Yes, the Buckeyes want to show they are the best team in the Leaders Division with a win over Wisconsin. A victory also would keep Ohio State?s national title hopes afloat. The Badgers want to show they still are kings of the Big Ten, while Minnesota is out to prove its 4-0 start is legit. But Iowa needs to win the battle for Floyd of Rosedale in Minneapolis. That would push the Hawkeyes to 4-1 with a big visit from Michigan State on Oct. 5. Suddenly, Iowa would REALLY be hot in its pursuit to rebound from last year?s 4-8 season.

3. Which team needed a bye the most this week?

A. Indiana

B. Michigan

C. Nebraska

D. Michigan State

E. Northwestern

F. Penn State

Answer: E. Schools that have some big issues, like Michigan State (QB, RB, WR), Michigan (QB, OL, DL) and Nebraska (defense), would have been better off playing this Saturday. Get that bad taste out of your mouth by playing a game. Conversely, Northwestern looks solid cruising into its bye. However, work can be done to a shaky pass defense and some spotty play up front on the d-line. The extended time off should mean running back Venric Mark will be back on the field when NU gets back in action on Oct. 5 vs. Ohio State. Plus, the two weeks off will give the staff added time to prepare for that huge visit from the Buckeyes. Just perfect timing on many fronts for Pat Fitzgerald?s crew.

4. Who should Michigan State start at quarterback?

A. Andrew Maxwell

B. Connor Cook

C. Tyler O?Connor

D. Damion Terry

Answer: B. Stick with Cook. Honestly, he probably should have been the starter coming out of camp. He was the guy who took over late in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and led the Spartans to a victory over TCU. Cook is the best combination athlete/runner among the veterans. Terry is the great unknown, a true freshman with tantalizing skills. Alas, it looks like the MSU staff wants to redshirt him. So, good, bad, ugly ? just stick with Cook, Michigan State.

5. True or false: If Devin Gardner struggles in the next game-vs. Minnesota on Oct. 5-should Michigan consider playing true freshman Shane Morris?

Answer: False. I know some fans are already clamoring to see Morris, especially if Gardner continues to be a turnover machine. He has made nine career starts and has 13 interceptions. There also have been lost fumbles. Not good. I know it?s not all on Gardner, but much of it is. Heck, if Michigan was 2-2 entering this bye week, I wonder what would be going on in practices with Gardner and Morris. It?s something to keep on your radar moving forward with games at Penn State, at Michigan, vs. Nebraska, at Northwestern and vs. Ohio State still to come. Still, for now, Michigan needs to let Gardner, and the entire offense, try to get things figured out. Don?t be hasty.

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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