Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 18, 2014

Nice to see iconic programs like Texas and Michigan agree to a two-game series in football. It?s just too bad the meetings won?t happen until ? 2024 and 2027. What league will Texas even be in by them?

This is the sixth major home-and-home series Michigan has scheduled in an effort to replace Notre Dame. The Wolverines currently have home-and-home deals with Arkansas (2018-19), Virginia Tech (2020-21), Washington (2020-21), UCLA (2022-23) and Oklahoma (2025-26). Michigan will also play a neutral site game against Florida in 2017. These are some sweet matchups.


The Big Ten?s expansion into the East with Rutgers and Maryland is an early success, at least witnessed by last Saturday night?s Penn State at Rutgers game. The attendance of 53,744 set an all-time school standard for RU.

"I?ve lived in this part of the country my entire life," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "It?s the financial capital of the world, the media capital of the world, it?s one of the most highly populated areas of the world.

"But the one thing I know about people who grow up in New York, New Jersey, Tri-State area is they want to see an event."

And, no doubt, last Saturday night in High Point Solutions Stadium was an event.

Speaking of attendance ? Big crowds aren?t always the norm anymore, especially when it comes to students attending games. This is a disturbing trend-for now and the future of the sport. If kids aren?t attending games while in college, then will they as alums?

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Rutgers will have its hands full when it goes to Navy this week. A big key to success vs. the Midshipmen?s vaunted triple-option? The play of the Scarlet Knights safeties.

Dan Duggan of notes that Rutgers will employ a three-safety look in its base defense. And those safeties will line up where the linebackers typically do. It just may work, as RU has a nice front seven.


It seems the natives are a bit restless in Iowa. Rick Brown of has a message for them: Kirk Ferentz-whose deal runs through 2020–isn?t going anywhere.

The offense has struggled mightily under coordinator Greg Davis, who is in his third year running the attack. Will things get better for the No. 11 offense in the Big Ten? This week?s trip to 3-0 Pitt looks very daunting. If Iowa comes home with a 2-2 record ? oh, boy.


It is good to see Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner progressing from his injuries (knee and toe). He?s practicing. It?s vital that the Golden Gophers have him in the lineup. But David Cobb is dealing with an ankle injury. And there are worries about an offensive line that was thought to be a strong point. Check out this video of Jerry Kill discussing the issue up front for a line that hasn?t excelled.


Not much went well for Illinois in its 44-19 loss at Washington. Among them, the run game. The lllini have had issues running all season. Illinois ranks dead last in the Big Ten with an average of just over 71 rushing yards per game. Without a running game, and because Illinois has fallen behind its first three foes, teams are able to get after the Illini quarterback.

Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review says the line has struggled because of injuries, getting shuffled and hurting chemistry. Without better balance, the Illinois offense may have issues getting on track. And, that could make reaching a bowl game difficult in Tim Beckman?s third season.


After last week?s abysmal effort vs. Bowling Green, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has challenged his defense to be more assertive, according to David Woods of

Bowling Green was two off the Football Bowl Subdivision record for offensive plays. In the second half, their numbers were astounding: 63 plays, five touchdowns, 27 first downs, 375 yards. Despite the dispiriting nature of the defeat, Wilson was largely upbeat.

"We've got to keep evolving this team. Because this team has a chance to be a really strong team," he said.

The visit to Missouri this weekend will be daunting. This defense needs some confidence-and to tackle somebody.


Penn State is off to a 3-0 start for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is the defense.

The unit excelled in the second half of a 13-10 win at Rutgers last week, shutting out the Scarlet Knights in the second half and allowing just 95 yards. Position switches have been key, with Mike Hull (OLB to MLB), Adrian Amos (CB to S) and Anthony Zettel (DE to DT) excelling in their new roles. Give a lot of credit to coordinator Bob Shoop. This is going to be a fun season in State College.


I?ll leave you with some hoops: Student tickets for Wisconsin men's basketball games went on sale at 7 a.m. yesterday. By 7:05 a.m., all 2,100 were gone!

Could this edition of the Badgers be the Big Ten?s first national champ since the 1999-2000 Michigan State Spartans?


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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