Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 21, 2013

The Michigan State offense didn?t look good in a 14-0 win vs. Purdue, scoring just one touchdown. Turns out, Mark Dantonio gave a ?little bit of thought? to changing quarterbacks. Oh, boy. I thought he?d be beyond this. Guess not.

Connor Cook was 13-of-25 passing for 107 yards, and while he didn't make any key mistakes, Mike Griffith of says Cook misfired on several throws to open receivers. Asked after the game what it meant that redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor began warming up at one point, Cook said he noticed it and took to heart the coaches' decision to let him remain in the game.

"It just means the coaches believe in me and will continue to believe that I'm the guy and have faith in me," Cook said. "So that reassures myself."


The first BCS standings came out Sunday night. And, it wasn?t a shock to see Ohio State No. 4. The Buckeyes are gonna need help to reach the BCS title game-thanks largely to a weak schedule.

Think about this, points out the great Mike Hlas: Ohio State could have a 26-game winning streak going into the 2014 season and no appearance in the national-championship game for it.

Doug Lesmerises of says you should just appreciate Ohio State grinding out another win and don?t fret about the national title talk.

Easier said than done. OSU was No. 3 but is now No. 4 in both polls behind Alabama, Oregon and Florida State. And, it?s No. 4 in the BCS behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon.


The revamped Michigan offensive line enjoyed a lot of success vs. Indiana. No shock there. I mean, it?s the Indiana defense.

Nick Baumgardner of says mostly using true freshman Kyle Bosch and redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson at the guard spots, Michigan had its best day on the ground all season — rushing for 248 yards, mostly via the spread in a 63-47 win over Indiana.

"We kind of put that in for Indiana, we'll see what we do in the future," Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "We want to run downhill stuff, that's the kind of team we want to be. We just have to do it consistently.

Again, how excited can we really get about anything accomplished vs. this Hoosiers defense?


Bryce Miller of thinks Iowa turned the corner at Ohio State despite losing the game. Interesting.

It might not translate to many more wins this season with the schedule that remains, but you have to like Iowa?s chances vs. Northwestern and Purdue. Win those games, and the Hawkeyes will be bowl eligible. Bottom line: This Iowa team bears absolutely no resemblance to the group that lost to Indiana and Purdue during a free-fall a season ago.

?Coach told us at the end of the game that we?ve improved, but we?re not quite there yet,? Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock said.


Wisconsin kept rolling on Saturday by rolling Illinois. Now, the Badgers have a week off to relax and work. Well, mostly work. What will be the focus? The great Jeff Potrykus says Wisconsin needs to cut down on the big plays allowed on defense.

Wisconsin limited Northwestern to two plays of 20 or more yards - completions of 46 and 25 yards - in a 35-6 victory. Illinois hit the Badgers with pass plays of 51 39, 29, 29 and 20 yards.

"Defensively we played hard," Gary Andersen said. "We flew around the field. We're better than that, though, on defense. We're going to have to be better than that on defense.

"I give credit to Illinois. They're hard to stop. It is a very difficult scheme, and they've got some very good players out there.

"My problem is we had too many mental breakdowns ? pre-snap awareness.?


It was nice to see Tracy Claeys lead Minnesota to victory in the team?s first game without Jerry Kill. Who knows? Maybe all of this upheaval will serve as a galvanizing force for the Golden Gophers. In fact, the coaches told the team that they?re better than they think. Hey, it?s all about believing in yourself.

?You?re better than you think you are,? Claeys said, following the 20-17 victory at Northwestern. ?If you show up, and you play hard, and you believe in yourselves, there?s not a game left we can?t win.?

Jerry Kill followed by saying, ?You need to understand that what Coach [Claeys] has told you is right.?

This is a confident team. And, this may be a dangerous team–maybe.


Pretty neat re-ranking of five-star players in the Class of 2013 by Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg, who was No. 7 in the final rankings, has lived up the hype. Now, he tops the recruiting service?s rankings.

Has there been a better true freshman in America?


After yet another vexing loss, now it can be asked: Will Northwestern become bowl eligible?

NU?s descent has been stunning.


My take: Well said.

My take: I think Michigan State has a good chance to get there.

My take: Yes.

My take: And yes.

My take: The guy is such a stud.

My take: Best league in the nation?

My take: Just passing this Tweet along because, well, you know.

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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.