Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 15, 2013

It?s time to take my weekly Big Ten football quiz in preparation for another big Saturday football. It?s an intriguing slate of five games, with the Big Ten Nation fixated on the Michigan State at Nebraska game. Don't worry – this isn't graded on a curve. And? I provide the questions and the answers. So just have fun.

Are you are ready?

Who needs a win more?

A) Northwestern
B) Michigan

Answer: A. Look, the Wildcats are sitting on the edge of postseason extinction, losers of five in a row. That means Northwestern needs to win two of its last three games to advance to a bowl for a sixth season in a row. After this visit from the Wolverines, Michigan State comes to Evanston. Then, Northwestern finishes the season at Illinois. Beating MSU seems like a long shot, while a win over the Fighting Illini looks likely. So, that makes winning this game vs. Michigan key for NU. Losers of two in a row, the Wolverines certainly could use the win but already are bowl eligible. A win would boost their sagging confidence and augment Michigan?s bowl prospects in what has been a disappointing season.

Without a doubt, Penn State?s Allen Robinson is the Big Ten?s top receiver. He paces everyone with 73 catches for 1,106 yards with six touchdowns. Who is the second-best Big Ten wideout?

A) Wisconsin?s Jared Abbrederis
B) Michigan?s Jeremy Gallon
C) Indiana?s Cody Latimer
D) Ohio State?s Corey Brown
E) Nebraska?s Quincy Enunwa

Answer: B. Gallon has stepped up his game in 2013 with Roy Roundtree gone, grabbing 55 catches for 947 yards with seven touchdowns and averaging 17.2 yards per grab. And who can forget his record-setting day vs. Indiana, when Gallon caught 14 passes for 369 yards (26.4 ypc) with two touchdowns? Gallon has been doing all of this with quarterback who is learning on the job and with scant support from the rushing attack. Impressive.

Who has been the most surprising player in the Big Ten?

A) Minnesota RB David Cobb
B) Iowa QB Jake Rudock
C) Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, Jr.
D) Penn State RB Bill Belton

Answer: A. Cobb has been a revelation since stepping in when Donnell Kirkwood got hurt. The 5-11, 225-pound junior literally and figuratively has carried the Golden Gopher offense during this four-game winning streak, running for 100 yards in each game. In the four-game run, Cobb has carried 107 times for 568 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry in wins over Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State.

What has been the most debilitating injury this season?

A) Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
B) Northwestern QB Kain Colter

Answer: Colter. Dogged by an ankle injury, Colter missed the Minnesota game and parts of others, and the Northwestern attack has suffered without his playmaking skills. So far this season, the senior has thrown for just 545 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for 409 yards and four scores. Last year, Colter threw for 872 yards with eight touchdowns and four picks and ran for 894 yards and 12 TDs. Conversely, Nebraska has enjoyed success with Tommy Armstrong, Jr., working under center with Martinez out with various maladies. In fact, Armstrong is 5-0 as a starter.

True or false: Ohio State could beat Alabama and/or Florida State on a neutral field.

Answer: True. Yes, the Crimson Tide and Seminoles are good, but they aren?t among the best teams in college football over the past decade or so. Very good? Yes. Great? No. Ohio State is playing every bit as good as Bama and FSU. Since Braxton Miller returned from injury, few players in the nation have been playing better. In the five games upon his return, Miller has completed 91-of-125 passes (73 percent) for 1,108 yards with 13 touchdowns and one pick. He also has run 69 times for 328 yards and two scores, averaging 4.8 yards per tote.

Couple the rising fortunes of a Miller-led offense that looks to be peaking with a defense that is underrated that ranks third overall in the Big Ten (311.7 ypg), No. 2 vs. the run (88.2) and No. 1 in pass efficiency defense, and you can see this is a powerful Buckeye team that could play with anyone in America. Alas, OSU-winners of 21 in a row–will likely need help in the form of a loss by Alabama and/or Florida State to reach the BCS title game. An unbeaten season that includes a win over an 11-1 Michigan State team in the Big Ten title game doesn?t figure to be enough to catapult the Buckeyes from their No. 3 perch in the BCS standings.


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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