Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 21, 2014

A big key in the Wisconsin at Iowa game will be the running attack for each squad. The Badgers are coming off a 581-yard effort against Nebraska that saw Melvin Gordon run for a FBS single-game record 408 yards. And the Hawkeyes are coming off a season-high 304-yard rushing effort at Illinois with Mark Weisman notching his first 100-yard game of 2014 (134). These two backs off a nice contrast in styles, one a thoroughbred the other a plow horse. This is going to be fun.



How good can Penn State be in a few years? It?s a question that was posed on the ?Nittany Lion 50-Yard Lion Roundtable.?

My take: It?s only a matter of time before Penn State is banging heads at the top of the Big Ten East with Ohio State with the way that James Franklin and Co., are recruiting.


This is kinda hard to believe: Ohio State hasn?t had a major individual award winner since 2008.

But Joey Bosa may end that this year, as he is a Lombardi Award finalist. The last Ohio State players to win national awards came in 2008, when Malcolm Jenkins won the Thorpe Award as the best defensive back and linebacker James Laurinaitis won the Lott Trophy, another award for overall defense. If Bosa doesn?t win the Lombardi, I have a feeling some Buckeye will win hardware in the next season or two, given the talent Urban Meyer is bringing in.


For Michigan to make a push at the Big Ten title, Zak Irvin is going to have to take his game to another level. The former Indiana Mr. Basketball?s ?weird looking? jump shot keeps getting better. And that?s bad news for foes.

His jumper is smoother, more fluid, and has a more natural spin.


Northwestern looks like it has a special young back in Justin Jackson, who is just a freshman. What?s his potential? Off the charts.

With a full offseason under his belt - and presumably with a better offensive line at some point in his next three years - the crew at thinks Jackson looks poised to be a full-fledged star for the Wildcats in the next few years. In fact, his performance this year already stacks up as one of the better rushing seasons in recent years for NU backs. And a chart in this story illustrates his numbers stack up favorably with other recent Wildcats.


Here is a strange story about former Michigan hockey player and current Columbus Bluejacket Jack Johnson who is in all types of financial trouble. Such a sad tale of financial ruin for a young man that his parents were instrumental in orchestrating.


This is interesting: Penn State is leading the Big Ten in penalties. And it has helped, notes

"I think on defense, it's on how hard we're playing," James Franklin said. "When you twist, and you move, and you blitz, and you do all those things, you create holding penalties and things like that."

Receiver DaeSean Hamilton chalked it up to an emphasis on penalty drawing, and reducing, in practice, noting the Lions talk about it each week. It helps that quarterback Christian Hackenberg's snap count has helped draw many an offsides or encroachment flag.


Will Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun be back for his senior season? This is the Spartans? final home game of 2014-so it could be his last tilt in East Lansing.

"I haven't made any decisions," said Calhoun, asked if he would be back with the Spartans next season. ?My primary focus is this season, and the season isn't over yet. I'm just trying to do great things to help my team win."


It?s all right there for Minnesota: win the last two games (at Nebraska and at Wisconsin), and the Gophers will head to the Big Ten title game. A tall task, no doubt.

Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes it will be an impossible task if Mitch Leidner doesn?t bounce back from an 85-yard, two-interception performance in a disappointing 31-24 loss against Ohio State in their final home game last week. Leidner completed a season-low 7 of 19 passes, a 36.8 completion percentage.

"But it isn't just a quarterback missing (throws) or him taking a sack because he's not finding the right read or something," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "There are 11 (players) at blame when things don't go right, and it's a lot bigger than just Mitch."


 Nebraska?s Tim Miles is always looking to improve his rising Huskers? program. To that end, he?s looking to expand his program?s recruiting footprint by playing games in ACC territory and the Eastern Seaboard. And that's why Nebraska is playing at Rhode Island this weekend.

?We just wanted to go East,? Miles said, noting he now has players from New Jersey (Tarin Smith) and Virginia (Andrew White III) on scholarship.

?We talked to several teams about trying to play a game with a return. Rhode Island was certainly willing. It?s a win-win for them. We?re the ones putting it out on the line, I think.?


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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