Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 26, 2014

I officially have given up trying to figure out this Iowa team. One moment, the Hawkeyes can take you breath away. In another, they can leave you gasping for air. Last night was one of those nights, as Iowa allowed 95 points in a loss to a Minnesota team that scored a combined 95 in its previous two games. The defensive lapse in the Barn was exasperating. Iowa has now lost two games in a row for the first time this season. How good is this team?

The win over visiting Iowa was a big boost to Minnesota?s NCAA hopes, which were sagging. It was nice to see Austin Hollins enjoy a long-overdue big night with a career-high 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

The Gophers had lost six of eight games before running by the Hawkeyes last night. Up next is a visit to Michigan on Saturday. Could Minnesota keep the mojo rolling? Until then, feel free to be excited, Gophers fans. You?ve earned it.


The rise of Wisconsin continues. It seems like yesterday when the Badgers were losing five of six games including three home losses in succession. Now look at them: Winners of six in a row after muting Indiana last night. A loss at IU-the Badgers? first of the season after a 16-0 start–began Wisconsin?s swoon. What a difference six weeks makes, huh?


Jerry Kill?s recent contract is more proof of the rising salaries of college coaches.

Kill is making $2.1 mil per season. As a point of reference, Glen Mason, who took the Gophers to seven bowl games during 10 years at the helm, was making $1.3 million when he got canned after the 2006 season.

"I've been out of coaching seven years; during that time, the market has changed dramatically," said Mason, a Big Ten Network analyst.

Speaking of new deals, Michigan State?s Mark Dantonio has a nice sweetened contract. He?s now making $3.64 mil per season. That?s an 83 percent raise. Not bad. The next time we are at Tim Horton?s, the java and donuts are on Dantonio.


The Weird Factor has been off the charts this season. To wit: Home hasn?t been such a kind place for Big Ten teams. The great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-gazette picks it up from here.

OK, after winning 94.7 percent of their home games prior to Dec. 31, the Big Ten race shows 38 road wins out of 85 this season, according to Tate. That?s 44.7 percent, incredible by past Big Ten standards. How crazy has it been? A Jan. 29 upset by Northwestern at Wisconsin was the Wildcats? first victory in Madison since 1996. With Penn State winning at Ohio State the same night, it marked the first time those two posted road wins together since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993-94. Go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor now.


Purdue?s recent swoon that has seen the Boilermakers lose seven of nine games has some questioning the heart of the team. Hey, it?s understandable.

?We don?t play hard,? Rapheal Davis said after Purdue?s most lopsided loss of the season, at Nebraska. ?Sometimes it doesn?t look like we care a lot out there.?

Up next: A visit from Michigan tonight. Gulp.


It?s right there for Michigan, just four games are left between the Wolverines and their first outright Big Ten championship in 28 years.


Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines have kicked off spring drills. And, it?s a critical spring practice for a program coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw the Wolverines open 5-0 and then finish 2-6. All eyes are on the offense, which is being run by new coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Check out his video of Devin Gardner talking about the new play caller.


My take: Not me.

My take: How does this happen?

My take: This is big.

My take: Amen, brother. Amen.

My take: Amazing. And sad.

My take: This won?t cut it.

My take: I will be shocked if Gardner doesn?t keep the job. No way Hoke turns to an inexperienced QB in this critical season.

My take: And Minnesota still won. Amazing.

My take: I see no hands.

My take: Turning up the D.

My take: A great coach.

My take: So true.


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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