Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 6, 2014

Remember when Wisconsin was the preseason pick by many to win the Big Ten West? Yes, so do I. Now, five games into the season the Badgers are reeling.

At the crux of the problem is a quarterback situation that remains murky. Tanner McEvoy was pulled in favor of Joel ?I?m Over The Yips? Stave last week at Northwestern. It didn?t matter. The not-so-dynamic duo combined to complete 12 of 29 passes (41.3 percent) for 138 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions vs. the Wildcats.

Without better play from under center, this team will continue to struggle. Fighting for relevancy in the West even may be a challenge. Melvin Gordon can do only so much. This offense needs balance.


David Jones of hits the nail on the head with this one: Ohio State?s 52-24 rout of Maryland should serve as a warning shot to the rest of the Big Ten East-the Buckeye are good. And only will get better.

The development of J.T. Barrett has been a revelation. And the o-line is honing a hard edge. Yes, Michigan State looks very good, but OSU may give it a run for its money in the East.


Ari Wasserman of thinks Ohio State will take a six-game winning streak to Michigan State on Nov. 8. And, I?m not gonna argue with him. The next three foes for OSU, which is on a three-game winning skein: Rutgers; at Penn State; Illinois.

How big is that OSU at MSU game gonna be? I can't wait.


Apparently, Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis was honked off that there were empty seats in the student section of Spartan Stadium for the Nebraska game. And he?s gonna do something about it.

Hollis took to Twitter to vent saying that the school is "prepared to make the changes" to provide the Spartans with the type of home field advantage other championship contenders routinely enjoy. Mike Griffith of says Hollis referred to the lack of support Michigan State football is getting from the student section as an "embarrassment," and one that was exposed before a national network television audience in prime time, at that.

Stay tuned.

But lack of attendance isn?t just a MSU problem. It?s an issue at many schools.


You had to be uplifted a bit by Michigan?s effort at Rutgers. But, the result was another loss. What?s a bit maddening is the fact the offense showed life. But the defense-usually steady-struggled, especially the secondary.

How many games will this team win this year?


Iowa has another strong team. The foundation of this year?s unit is a strong run defense led by an underrated front. And that strong d-line has allowed Iowa to be stout vs. the run, giving the Hawkeyes a chance in most every game.

To wit: Last season, teams that were among the top 10 in stopping the run posted a combined record of 100-34 (.746 winning percentage), and all of them were bowl-eligible.

Meanwhile, teams among the top 10 in passing yards allowed were a combined 84-45 (.651) with three (Florida Atlantic, Western Michigan and Florida) failing to have winning seasons.


In case you didn?t know it, the Big Ten will arrange all bowl pairings. Period. End of story. This is the new-world order of the bowl selection process.


Buoyed by a three-game winning streak, Northwestern is now a contender in the Big Ten West. Unbelievable.

This NU team has talent. And a lot of it is on one of the most underrated defenses in the Big Ten, led by Godwin Igwebuike and Ifeadi Odenigbo. Combine that with a division that doesn?t look daunting, and well, you can see why the Wildcats may be excited about their chances to make some noise. This Saturday?s game at Minnesota will be another good measuring stick.


How would you describe Illinois? loss to Purdue? Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review used the word ?embarrassing.?

Tupper says the Illini played one of the more ?embarrassing? defensive games in a long time. They missed tackles, were out of position and seemed to be constantly chasing Purdue ball carries and receivers down the field. Purdue, a team struggling mightily on offense, rolled up 551 yards including 349 on the ground. Not good.

More bad news: QB Wes Lunt will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken leg.


While Illinois didn?t like the outcome of Saturday?s game vs. Purdue, the Boilermakers loved it. They needed a game like this to get on track. The defense bled, but the formerly moribund offense showed much-needed life in helping the program notch its first Big Ten win since 2012. This season already is a big success, as Purdue is 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten after going 1-11 and 0-8 last year.