Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 9, 2013

The bowl matches are set! The only left for you to do is send out invites for your Texas Bowl party and buy some Velveeta and Ro-tel. But before digging in on bowl news, let?s start Monday?s links with news on the Big Ten?s hottest assistant coaching commodity. It seems UConn has contacted Michigan State about talking to Pat Narduzzi, says Mark Dantonio.

Narduzzi?s stock never will be hotter than it is right now. But is UConn a good job? Meh. As for Ohio State didn?t want to go to the Orange Bowl. It wanted to play in the BCS title game. What will be the attitude of the Buckeyes?

"They're heartbroken, but they're competitors," Urban Meyer said in the rubble of the Big Ten title game loss. "Also, I think the fact they're playing in a BCS bowl game against Clemson, that's going to wake you up real fast."

We shall see.

Speaking of OSU, tough, tough loss for Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, basically costing the Buckeyes a shot at the national title. Doug Lesmerises of has five interesting observations from the OSU loss.

Lesmerises says Ohio State never overcame the loss of Christian Bryant to a season-ending ankle injury in the Wisconsin game. Fifth-year senior Corey ?Pitt? Brown took over in Bryant's spot, and while losing Bryant's ability to both calm and encourage the defense in difficult times, they also lost his play-making and coverage. Brown was beaten on a 72-yard touchdown Saturday when he took a bad angle in coverage with no one behind him and had the pass go over his head.

This pass defense must get better if OSU want to be better in 2014. This season, the pass defense gave up at least 300 yards through the air five times, including the last three games. Urban Meyer called the pass defense ?alarming? weeks ago, yet with the national title game on the line, it let the Buckeyes down again. Could any staff changes be in the making?


Here is a good look at the Gator Bowl clash between Nebraska and Georgia. Each team will use a backup quarterback in what is a rematch of last year?s Capital One Bowl. Does that excite you?

I?m still a bit miffed the Huskers got passed over by the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which selected a Michigan team with a worse record. Yes, I know how the bowl selection process works. Still. ?

Sean Callahan of says the Wolverines haven't played in Arizona since 1985 and the Big Ten ends their agreement with the Buffalo Wilds Wings/Fiesta Bowl after this season. Nebraska hasn't played in Arizona since the 1999 season when it faced Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

That left the Gator Bowl with the choice between Nebraska and Minnesota, and they chose the Huskers even though it's a rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl. Minnesota will play in the Texas Bowl on against Syracuse.


Iowa ended the regular season with a signature victory at Nebraska. But a victory vs. LSU in the Outback Bowl? Well, that would be even sweeter and more ?signaturey.?

But as Pat Harty of notes: It would have been more fun to have seen Iowa take on Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel in the Outback. This Hawkeyes defense vs. that Aggie offense? Sweet. Alas, Johnny Football?s likely last college game will be in the Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. ? Duke? This doesn?t sound right.


Nice read from Chris Solari of the Lansing State Journal on the amazing journey of Connor Cook from backup to starting quarterback.

Raise your hand if you thought Cook would be the starting quarterback in the Rose Bowl back in August. Exactly. That?s what I thought.


Bob Flounders of has a guide to what Penn State needs to do to have a successful offseason. Yes, it?s already time to think about the offseason. If not for a bowl ban, the Nittany Lions may be headed to, say, the Outback Bowl.

Among the things Flounders has on the to-do list for PSU: Fill the voids. Bill O?Brien has two holes on his staff, needing a linebackers coach and QB coach. Flounders notes that the Lions have a pretty good quarterbacks coach in O'Brien, who is also the team's play-caller. Can O'Brien assume the QB-coaching duties and use the opening to hire an assistant who can help PSU in another area? Interesting.


Can?t say I am surprised by this: former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema voted Ohio State 12th on his final ballot in the coaches poll. Yes, his feud with Urban Meyer is THAT intense ? and apparently petty.



My take: Well this is exciting.

My take: This will add some intrigue ? I think.

My take: Now, the teams aside from Big Ten newbie Nebraska with the longest Rose Bowl droughts are Minnesota and Indiana.

My take: So there is that.

My take: The ?Injury Bowl.?

My take: I feel your pain.

My take: Well, it has happened.

My take: What? And people wonder why the Coaches Poll has no credibility.

My take: Yep, and I can?t wait for that four-team playoff to get here.

My take: This is one of the better Big Ten bowl matchups, no doubt.

My take: So there is that.


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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