Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 2, 2013

It?s Hump Day! If you are into celebrating things like that, enjoy it. Me? I am celebrating the fact that we are one day closer to the Ohio State at Northwestern game. And that?s a good thing. More good news: It came out yesterday that the Wildcats will have the services of running back Venric Mark, who has missed most of this season with an injury.

Yet another deadly weapon for the Buckeyes to have to deal with. If NU can get Ohio State into a punching match, the Wildcats will have a shot at victory.

Speaking of the Wildcats, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune caught up with ex-Northwestern coach Gary Barnett. Makes sense, given the big Ohio State-NU clash is this Saturday and the fact Barnett is the architect of modern Wildcats football. Greenstein asked Barnett if he regretted leaving NU after seven years for Colorado.

Honestly, it probably was time for Barnett to depart. And, you know what? NU didn?t really suffer much, as Randy Walker did just fine and Pat Fitzgerald has the Wildcats rolling.


Could Jake Rudock end up being Kirk Ferentz?s best quarterback at Iowa?

Rick Brown of thinks so. Better than Brad Banks, Drew Tate and Ricky Stanzi. Wow. Brown thinks Rudock has the whole package. He can throw effectively. He has shown surprising elusiveness with his feet, with a great feel for when to tuck it and go. His poise and mental acumen are just as impressive.


Jerry Kill has done a lot of good things in his two-plus seasons as Minnesota coach. But, he still is looking for a signature win. No doubt, a victory at Michigan this Saturday would qualify as such.

Alas, that may be difficult to come by in the Big House, where Kill lost 58-0 the last time he visited with his Gophers in 2011.

On the subject of Minnesota, there is a nice piece in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that debates Philip Nelson vs. Mitch Leidner.

My verdict: Go with the hot hand, as they essentially are the same quarterback.


The great Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports conducted a Twitter poll asking for the worst college football hires of the 21st Century. No. 1: Rich Rodriguez at Michigan.

This sounds about right. Did anyone think the Rich Rod-Michigan fit was good? Hello? Beuller?


We all know of the well-chronicled struggles of the Michigan State offense. But did you know the Spartans are the lone FBS offense that has yet to make a play of over 40 yards or more?

?That?s crazy,? MSU sophomore receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. said. ?I didn?t even know that because I don?t really look at newspapers and stuff like that, I try to stay focused. But that?s real crazy. I?m looking for a change this week against Iowa, someone?s gonna, whether it?s me, Bennie (Fowler) or Tony (Lippett) or Aaron (Burbridge), somebody?s gonna break loose this game.?

What exactly is the issue for the struggling MSU offense? Mark Dantonio says it?s a number of things.

Sounds about right. But the biggest is quarterback.


Waning attendance issues persist for college football. The schools and their administrators are aware. But, what?s the solution? Better non-conference games and lower ticket prices would be starts.

Through five weeks, announced attendance in Football Bowl Subdivision games is down 3 percent compared to this time in 2012 and almost 6 percent from this point in 2011. And according to this report, in the Big Ten, eight of the 12 schools have declined (two are down by less than 1 percent). Five Big Ten teams' crowds are down 3 percent or more from the national average.


If the Penn State defense struggled to contain the Central Florida offense, wait until it gets a load of Indiana?s quick and varied attack this Saturday.

The Lions rank in the top 20 in the nation in points allowed (14.5) and yards allowed (285.0). Not bad. But in that UCF game, a 34-31 loss, PSU yielded 507 total yards. The Hoosiers have averaged 44.5 points and 547.2 yards in wins over Indiana State and Bowling Green and losses to Navy and Missouri.

This is interesting: Penn State has had added weekly developmental scrimmages to help compensate for a loss of bowl practices enacted because of NCAA sanctions. More brilliance from Bill O?Brien.

A postseason ban for four years has meant the loss of at least 15 bowl practices. That?s valuable practice time for young players that?s lost.


My take: Now, about the defense.

My take: It may not matter vs. a bad Illinois defense.

My take: The hard work has to pay off at some time, right?

My take: Mission accomplished.

My take: Play. Him. More.

My take: That?s all well and good. But MSU also has very good players. And, that matters more than scheme.

My take: Me, too.

My take: Well, Purdue can stand to improve in about ? every area.