Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 4, 2013

Happy Monday, Big Ten Nation! Time to start prepping for the big game this week: Nebraska at Michigan. Neither team can afford another loss in its pursuit of Michigan State in the Legends Division. What?s ironic is that a win by the Wolverines over the Huskers would be a big help to the Spartans. That would give Nebraska two league losses, the same as Michigan. MSU has none. So, will Mark Dantonio be cheering for the Wolverines on Saturday, when the Spartans are off?

"Oh, I don't know about that," Dantonio said. "I would just say I can't lose."

I guess I was hoping for a bit more from Dantonio.


Big Ten standings
Conference Overall
Ohio State 5-0 9-0
Wisconsin 4-1 6-2
Penn State 2-2 5-3
Indiana 1-3 3-5
Illinois 0-4 3-5
Purdue 0-4 1-7
Conference Overall
Michigan State 5-0 8-1
Nebraska 3-1 6-2
Minnesota 3-2 7-2
Michigan 2-2 6-2
Iowa 2-3 5-4
Northwestern 0-5 4-5

Ohio State has outscored its last two foes, 119-14, but has lost ground in the Coaches Poll, which is one-third of the BCS formula.

Alas, the schedule is hurting the Buckeyes. points out that with dominating wins over Penn State and the Boilermakers, Ohio State has seemed to make more of a case to maybe be thought of with the top group of Alabama, Oregon and Florida State. Instead, the Buckeyes are backing up toward No. 5 Baylor. There are only seven unbeaten teams remaining - the top five as well as Northern Illinois and Fresno State.

So, it?s no shock to see that Ohio State remained No. 4 in the BCS standings and even lost ground. The Buckeyes? deficit from No. 3 grew from .0371 to .0715.

Frustrating? Yes.

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After Michigan State manhandled Michigan, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke was asked if the gap between the schools was widening. This was, after all, MSU?s fifth win in the last seven tries over Michigan.

The gap may seem wide now, but Michigan is a young team that?s only gonna get better. But, enjoy the moment, MSU. Nick Baumgardner of writes that this is Michigan State's most successful run in this series in more than 50 years of the series. Each victory coming in emphatic fashion.

Since Michigan's win in East Lansing in 2007, the Wolverines' scoring output in this game is as follows: 21, 20, 17, 14, 12, 6. What?s it all mean for 2013? If there's going to be one football team from the state of Michigan playing in the Big Ten Championship game this December, it'll likely be the Spartans.  In order for Michigan to get there now, the Wolverines need to win all four of their final regular season games.  And the Spartans need to lose all three of theirs. It?s OK to start getting a bit excited, Michigan State fan.


Bryce Miller of says Iowa?s loss to Wisconsin exposes quarterback uncertainty, which I think we all figured was coming at some point, right?

Harty said it was a matter of time before Iowa quarterbacks played closer to their ages and jersey numbers, succumbing to the missteps of signal-calling youth that quickly shape the outcome of Big Ten games. For sophomore starter Jake Rudock, it showed on a back-foot, off-balance throw from the end zone mid-way through the third quarter of Iowa?s 28-9 loss against No. 22 Wisconsin. For backup C.J. Beathard, the moment came as he rifled a ball directly into the helmet of an offensive lineman for a fourth-quarter pickoff. Growing pains, people.


A nice look at Wisconsin?s win over Iowa in photos.


I always love it when teams sing after a game. Here is a video of Bill O?Brien and the Nittany Lions singing the alma mater with students.

This is what college football is all about.


Nice piece by Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror, who points out it?s a good thing Penn State has had scholarships given back.

Giger points out that Bill O'Brien and his staff would have made the best of things had the 65-scholarship limit gone in effect from 2014-17. And Penn State still would have won its share of games. But if the team is losing to the likes of Indiana and barely beating Illinois now, just think how sloppy things would have looked in a few years, after some of the current standouts such as Allen Robinson are gone and the team was in year two or three or four of the 65-scholarship limit. Yes, kinda scary.

Speaking of Robinson ?

How big of a season is he having? Robinson already has passed 1,000 yards receiving?and four games remain.

Audrey Snyder of says the 6-3 junior entered this season physically stronger than ever, expecting to face double teams after bursting onto the scene last year when he caught 77 balls for 1,013 yards. There are times in games where seemingly everyone in the stadium knows the ball is going to No. 8 yet somehow, someway with four games remaining this season Robinson has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

?I knew from a lot of people just telling me,? Robinson said of the milestone, while he sat with a ball cap pulled low over his eyes as media gathered around him on every side. ?At the end of the day I?m taking it one game at a time trying to go out there and help my team make plays.?


Yes, it?s true: 7-2 Minnesota is in the hunt for a January bowl game.

Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press points out that the Gophers haven't played in a high-level bowl game on New Year's Day since the 1962 Rose Bowl. Lower-level bowls are scheduled on that date now, too, but the Gator Bowl is definitely among the top-tier games. Getting to Jacksonville would be huge for the blossoming Minnesota program.


Running back Mark Weisman and quarterback Jake Rudock both got dinged in Iowa?s loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. But, each will be OK for the game at Purdue. And, that?s big, because the game at West Lafayette is the Hawkeyes? best shot to get win No. 6 and get bowl eligible.

"I was a little concerned yesterday when we had three players come out of the game that were significant enough to keep them out," Kirk Ferentz said Sunday to "Jake could have gone back in late in the fourth quarter, but it didn't seem like a wise thing to do. Good news is, it looks like everyone is doing well — better than we anticipated — and it looks like everybody should be full speed by Tuesday."



My take: Ameer is looking good. I guess I still like Melvin Gordon best.

My take: I guess that Nebraska history isn?t as important as some people think.

My take: Wow!

My take: Yes, an awesome story.

My take: #smh

My take: That?s what five football losses in a row will do.

My take: One of the Big Ten?s biggest surprise players.

My take: He is a good center who will be missed after suffering a season-ending injury.


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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