Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 28, 2013

It?s Michigan State-Michigan week. And that?s a good thing. This heated rivalry is among the best in the nation. Each team looks like it may be headed in opposite directions. No doubt, a victory by the Spartans would greatly enhance their status as Legends Division front-runners. And, Mark Dantonio knows all about beating the Wolverines.

The great Mike Griffith of notes that Dantonio's 4-2 record against the Wolverines represents the best winning percentage (.667) any Spartans coach has had against Michigan. To put Dantonio's success into perspective, one must take into account that of the 24 football coaches in the program's 118-year history, only seven left with as many as two wins against Michigan. Impressive. Now, let?s get a Rose Bowl berth!

Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun is looking forward to the Michigan game after experiencing ?disrespect.?

When the Spartans beat the Wolverines 28-14 for the fourth straight year in 2011, Calhoun hasn?t forgotten what happened afterward.

"After we won the game, they didn't really want to shake our hands, and so I find that as a sign of disrespect," Calhoun said. "I'm not really focused on that now, though. I'm just really focused on how to better my play."


Ohio State was absolutely dominating in ripping Penn State, 63-14, for its 20th win a row. There was a lot to like about the Buckeyes? performance. Here are 15 observations from

Zack Meisel notes that when it comes to the Buckeyes, winning by a lot won't influence their position in the polls. Winning by a little will. Given the perception of the Big Ten, the 10-point win at Northwestern overshadows the 49-point win against Penn State. Florida State can boast a lopsided victory at Clemson. Oregon destroyed UCLA and has one-loss Stanford up next. Alabama topped Texas A&M and has the benefit of the doubt, having won three of the last four national titles. The Buckeyes? They are still seeking an achievement that will boost their reputation. Beating up on Big Ten foes doesn't appear to be enough.


The great Ben Jones of says for Penn State, it?s a matter of learning now and winning later.

Jones deftly notes Bill O'Brien learned something about his team. Penn State's second year head coach can't put too much stock in a beating like this without appreciating Ohio State's talent level. But even so, with 61 scholarship players and a mixed bag of experience and talent, the Nittany Lions are young. They are seemingly average overall — aside from a handful of players who are working to keep things afloat. How O'Brien handles this realization is something we may never know, but it seems that the us-against-the-world narrative has taken a back seat to making the most out of a bad situation.

The good news for Penn State is that the next three opponents are a combined 2-8 in conference play. Despite Saturday's performance, the Nittany Lions aren't a lost cause and there is talent to be found on both sides of the ball. If Penn State is destined to grow as a program under O'Brien, losses like Saturday's have to be viewed more as a learning tool and less as a setback.


Pat Harty of says Iowa fans should live in the moment and stop fretting.

Harty says he can?t remember a season over the past two decades in which an Iowa football team has been as analyzed and scrutinized more in terms of the big picture than the current one. The best thing to do, myself included, is just let the season play out and not use each victory or each loss as proof of which direction the team is headed. Yes, predicting the future and declaring whether Iowa has taken the next step as a program is part of being a fan and being a member of the media. But, let?s all settle down.


Nick Baumgardner of resets where Michigan sits in the Big Ten race as November unfolds. The good, the bad and the ?what now??

Baumgardner thinks the Penn State loss will haunt Michigan. That setback puts a lot more pressure on the Wolverines moving into November. In reality, Michigan might have to run the table or at least go 4-1 to find its way to Indianapolis. That means wins at Michigan State and Northwestern, and home against Nebraska, are extremely critical now — and there's little room for error with Ohio State waiting at the end of the year. This, Michigan fans, is gonna be difficult to do.


Nebraska?s loss at Minnesota means it has an uphill fight in the Legends Division.

What makes the loss more galling for Nebraska: Minnesota beat the Huskers at their own game.

?I'm talking basic football,? coach Bo Pelini said afterward. ?Basic football that we couldn't execute - and we didn't execute.?

?There's no real way to mask it or spin it,? defensive coordinator John Papuchis said.

Sam McKewon says Nebraska likely needs to win out, again, to advance to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship. October strikes again. Pelini's never made it through the month without a loss.

Is time passing by the Nebraska program? Dirk Chatelain of has some interesting thoughts on the subject.

So many great points in this piece. This basically sums it up: Just because it was doesn?t mean it always will be. And, as Chatelain aptly puts it: If I had put Nebraska and Minnesota in shirts and skins, you wouldn't have known which one has decades of tradition and which one doesn't.

Painful for Huskers fans ? but true.


Even in defeat this season, Illinois appeared to be taking baby steps. But that wasn?t the case in the demolition the Illini suffered at the hands of Michigan State on Saturday.


The gang at takes a look at the good and bad from the loss at Iowa.

The offense showed signs of life, which is a good thing. Thank you, Kain Colter. But the offensive line continues to struggle.


My take: If you win first down, your offense figures to have a lot of success.

My take: Buckeyes are looking good.

My take: Best WR in the Big Ten.

My take: Amen.

My take: It?s going to be a tough climb for OSU.

My take: Big hill to climb, Part II.

My take: Scott read my mind! Thank you!

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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