Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 4, 2013
It?s time for you to test your Big Ten knowledge by taking my weekly quiz. Clear your desk, get out a No. 2 pencil. If you?ve been paying attention, the quiz shouldn?t be too difficult. Your game-day experience will be much better because of it.
1. True or false. The Ohio State at Northwestern game will be a preview of the Big Ten championship game.
Answer: False. I think the Buckeyes will win the Leaders Division and play in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. But I don?t think Northwestern will make it to Nap Town as Legends Division champ. I still think Nebraska and Michigan have better shots at winning the Legends. Northwestern?s schedule and spotty defense will be its ultimate undoing. The Cornhuskers have the most favorable schedule, while the Wolverines have the best team. Stay tuned. This is going be fun. By the way: Nebraska plays at Michigan on Nov. 9.
2. Which team has the most on the line this Saturday?
B. Michigan State
D. Ohio State
Answer: D. Northwestern would be a good selection. It seems like the Wildcats have a lot invested in this game vs. Ohio State. If Northwestern wins, it will be sky high and full of confidence and in what could be the most magical season yet under Pat Fitzgerald. It the Wildcats lose, that will make the trip to Wisconsin on Oct. 12 that much more arduous. And there are still games left at Iowa, at Nebraska, vs. Michigan and vs. Michigan State. But Ohio State is the choice. This team has national title hopes. This team must remain perfect. This team is coming off a physical game vs. Wisconsin. There can?t be any let down for the Buckeyes.
3. True or false. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller can get back in the Heisman race?
Answer: True. Yes, the junior missed almost three games (San Diego State, Cal, Florida A&M). But he came back with a vengeance last week in a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin on national television. Miller hit 17-of-25 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns and ran a team-high 22 times for 83 yards vs. the Badgers. If Miller has a similar effort in a win at Northwestern, he has to move back into the Heisman conversation. Another thing helping Miller: The Heisman race remains muddled. The latest straw poll by HeismanPundit.com has Johnny Manziel leading, followed by Marcus Mariota, Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd. Again, neither has a commanding lead.
4. Who has been the Big Ten?s most surprising quarterback?
A. Illinois? Nathan Scheelhaase
B. Iowa?s Jake Rudock
C. Wisconsin?s Joel Stave
D. Ohio State?s Kenny Guiton
E. Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg
Answer: B. We knew to a degree what Guiton was capable of, as he saved the day vs. Purdue in 2012. And Hackenberg arrived in State College, Pa., with a fat scrapbook, so his success isn?t a shock. Stave looked good last season during a Rose Bowl run before injury, while Scheelhaase had shown in spurts what he was able to do before taking it to another level this season. However, Rudock has been a revelation. The sophomore battled for the position with C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol, winning the job in camp. And Rudock subsequently has excelled as a passer and a runner, showing surprising maturity and moxie for guy who had never taken a snap prior to the season opener in 2013.
5. What game figures to be the highest scoring this Saturday?
A. Illinois at Nebraska
B. Ohio State at Northwestern
C. Penn State at Indiana
Answer: B. I think all three games are likely to resemble a track meet and have a lot of up-and-down-the field action with points galore. Illinois is No. 5 in the Big Ten in scoring (40.2 ppg); Nebraska is No. 3 (43.2); Ohio State is No. 1 (48.2); Indiana is No. 2 (44.5); Northwestern is No. 4 (41.2). Penn State averages 33.2 points, but that?s good for only ninth in the league. See where I?m going with this? But in the end, I think the Buckeyes? trip to Northwestern will be the most explosive. Ohio State should have plenty of success vs. a NU defense that?s last in the Big Ten vs. the pass (307.5 ypg) and ninth overall (426.5 ypg). The Buckeyes? numbers are better on defense, as they are fifth in the league in total defense (304.9 ypg), but OSU hasn?t seen an offense like Northwestern?s. (Yes, Cal?s was good, but it had a true freshman quarterback.)
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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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