Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 7, 2014

It got ugly near the end, which was unfortunate, but Michigan State notched a much-needed win last night vs. Iowa. The Spartans had gone 4-6 in their previous 10 games. This triumph will give MSU some momentum as it heads to Ohio State for the regular-season finale. The Spartans needed a night like this. And they especially needed Keith Appling to rediscover his groove, which he did in the second half.

In case you missed it, here is a GIF of Zach McCabe flinging Travis Trice to the floor in the aforementioned ugliness.

Iowa continues to confound, as a once-promising season seems to be slipping away. As you saw above, Zach McCabe lost his cool late in the game, tossing Travis Trice down. The frustration was apparent. The Hawkeyes could have a short postseason stay unless their defense tightens. It has been an abomination. In its last four games, Iowa has allowed 95, 93, 76 and 86 points.


Thirty-two points. That?s all Northwestern scored last night in an ugly loss to Penn State. More ugliness: The Wildcats made just 10 field goals. Did NU REALLY win at Wisconsin and at Indiana earlier this season?


OK, Gophers fans: Here is a nice snapshot of the up-to-the-minute bubble situation. My advice to you: Beat Penn State at home this weekend and win at least one game in the Big Ten tournament.


The Ohio State defense came under intense scrutiny in 2013 as it often bled points and yards. Who can forget the Buckeyes getting shredded for 1,114 yards and 74 points in the last two games of the season? Did coordinator Luke Fickell fear for his job? Well, here, have a read.

On the subject of Ohio State?s maligned defense, it was too bad to see promising young safety Vonn Bell injury a knee that will keep him out for the rest of spring drills. He likely will have to play a big role in 2014 after starting in the Orange Bowl. Bell was running with the ?ones? along with Tyvis Powell before getting hurt.


So, the Minnesota offense feels like it has something to prove in 2014?

I think most would agree. For this program to take the next step, the offense needs to develop a reliable and consistent passing attack that can stretch the field. The aerial game ranked dead last in the Big Ten in 2013.


No real shock here: The NCAA has opted to change the targeting rule enforcement.

The rule mandated that a player flagged for targeting be ejected, and his team assessed a 15-yard penalty. The foul could be reviewed, but even if the offending player was cleared of targeting, his team was still given a 15-yard penalty. Just silly, huh? Well, thank goodness, that?s changing. If a review clears a player-then the 15-yard infraction also will be erased. Who exactly thought the original thought process made any sense?


Mark Dantonio apparently allowed his team enough time to soak in the greatness it achieved last season. But the page has been turned to 2014.

The Spartans have six starters to replace on defense, and another three positions on offense left vacant by players who started in the 24-20 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. But filling the leadership void might be the biggest challenge Dantonio and his staff face. And this is an interesting note from Mike Griffith of Connor Cook recently flew to San Diego for spring break to work with George Whitfield Jr. at the Whitfield Quarterback Academy. How good could Cook become?


What the heck: Here is a bonus story. It?s Friday. ? I think we all know that if Taylor Martinez is going to play in the NFL, it won?t be at quarterback. Rather, his future-if he has one-figures to be at defensive back or receiver. And, his recent pro day showed he has the speed and skill to play those spots. But can he pick up the knowledge?



My take: Amazing.

My take: Appling needs to keep it up.

My take: His legend continues.

My take: Hmmmm.

My take: It?s all about gaining knowledge.

My take: Two good coaches.

My take: Great player. Gonna miss him.

My take: Nuts.


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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