Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 28, 2014

Michigan State still has a good shot to earn a bid to the college football playoff. But its margin for error is slim, according to Mike Griffith of

The offensive line's run blocking was better than it has been all season against a legit Michigan front seven that entered the game ranked No. 4 in the nation against the run. And defensively, safeties Kurtis Drummond and RJ Williamson were at their best after spotty showings through the first seven games.

The bad news: The passing game has sputtered of late, as defenses appear to have a read on the Spartans' aerial philosophy and route tree. And the kicking has been spotty.


So, after Michigan?s loss to Michigan State, where do the 3-5 Wolverines go? Watch and listen to writers Brendan Quinn and Nick Baumgardner discuss. Could this team still make a bowl?

Speaking of Michigan ? Lee Barfknecht of says the loss to MSU is another stake through the Wolverines? ego. What on god?s green earth was Michigan thinking?


Interesting piece by Dirk Chatelain of on the quandary of Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck.

Chatelain wonders why Beck doesn't stick with what was working vs. Rutgers: Running Ameer Abdullah. Why does Beck need to show off his playbook? Why can?t he run the damn ball!

Said Beck: ?Guys, you can?t always just hand the ball to Ameer. I mean, everyone?s gonna know. You can?t just do that.

?You?ve got Kenny Bell on the edge, you?ve got guys like Westerkamp and De?Mornay (Pierson-El) and Tommy. They?re good football players, too. You?ve got to spread the field and you?ve got to keep teams off balance.?


J.T. Barrett showed lots of toughness in fighting through a MCL sprain last week at Penn State. He?ll be limited this week in practice and still is slated to start when Illinois visits Columbus this Saturday.


Rutgers may be without starting QB Gary Nova, who went down at Nebraska last week. With Nova listed as ?questionable? this week, Chris Laviano took over and is preparing as if he?ll start Saturday when Wisconsin comes to town. Check out this video on the subject.

Laviano, who threw for 49 yards on 4-for-7 passing and ran for 54 yards after relieving Nova for the second half in Saturday's 42-24 loss at Nebraska, said "everything went smooth" as he engineered the Scarlet Knights' attack in their first practice of Wisconsin week.


When Penn State takes on Maryland on Saturday, it will be looking to avoid the program?s sixth four-game losing skid of the last century.

Three of those occasions have happened since the turn of the millennium, with Penn State having tough seasons in 2001, 2003 and 2004. A decade ago, the Lions dropped their first six conference games on their way to a 4-7 finish, and the year before, they also dropped six straight in a 3-9 season. Both of those skids featured four of the six losses coming to ranked foes.


November is almost here. And, as Rick Brown of notes, it will be the month that?ll be the program?s measuring stick.

Five games against Big Ten West Division foes: Northwestern, on the road at Minnesota and Illinois, and back home for Wisconsin and Nebraska. Each step is dangerous. Can Iowa win the West? It?s still alive ? for now.


Yes, that was a tough loss for Minnesota at Illinois. But the great Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune pleads for fans to stay patient with Jerry Kill. No doubt. Minnesota is lucky to have Kill, who is still in the building process.


Nice video here of the dunk contest from Indiana?s recent Hoosier Hysteria. This should get your fired up for some hoops!

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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