Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 26, 2014

We all know sports are big business ? which brings us to this: Why isn?t there a title sponsor for the Ohio State-Michigan game?

Doug Lesmerises of notes the Buckeyes and Wolverines could sell a title sponsorship. But this is basically what life as a college athletic director entails at the moment – the constant balance between business and passion, between commerce and tradition, what Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith called "a very fine line." Bottom line: Just because you can make a buck off of something doesn?t mean you should do it.


Michigan almost pulled off the upset of Ohio State last season. Can the Wolverines do it this year? Nick Baumgardner of has five things to watch in the game. It?s a rivalry, so anything can happen, right?

Baumgardner wonders if this is a ?win one for the coach? game? This is the guy who somehow finds a way to get this team ready to play above itself against Ohio State. Michigan's locker room still adores its football coach. We've heard nothing to suggest otherwise. If they sense that this is it for their football coach, do they find something deep down that turns the tide in this game and gives them a shot at the upset? Or is this team just too far gone at this point? We'll find out Saturday.


More Michigan-Ohio State: Buckeyes DE Noah Spence has been ruled permanently ineligible by the Big Ten following a second failed drug test.


When it comes to national respect, Penn State?s Mike Hull doesn?t think his team?s defensive unit is getting enough respect.

I agree. This group has been sensational all season, especially against the run. The Lions have the best defense in the Big Ten (and third-best in the country), the best run defense in all of college football, and a top-five scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, and third down defense nationally. Imagine if this team had a good offense?

"We've got to prove it again this Saturday," Hull said. "You hear people talking on ESPN, Kirk Herbstreit, and they're saying how Ohio State hasn't really faced a good defense or things like that, leading up to the Michigan State game when they played them.

"So that kind of stuff just eats at us a little bit, so we've got to go prove it again this Saturday."


Earlier this season, Iowa?s Jake Rudock wasn?t getting much love. I was pretty tough on him, too. But the guy has gotten better. And he?s still not getting much love.

The junior from Weston, Fla., has improved in nearly every statistical category since becoming a starter in 2013. notes his completion percentage is up, from 59 percent last fall to 64.2. His yards per attempt went from 6.9 to 7.3. He has 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions, after throwing for 18 TDs and 13 picks as a sophomore. Rudock is pretty good-whether some people wanna embrace that notion or not.


The future? Illinois? Tim Beckman isn?t worried about next month. He?s focused on the Wildcats, his next foe. The Illini can make a bowl for the first time under his watch with a win vs. NU. Pretty impressive.

Beckman said he received more than 100 text messages from coaching colleagues and friends congratulating him after the victory against Penn State.

?They?re happy for us,? Beckman said. ?There?s no question I?m happy for this coaching staff. I?m sure each one of our coaches got the same thing. It was a heck of a win for our seniors.?


What a year for Connor Cook.

Yes, the guy has had some consistency issues. Still, his passing has come to define the Michigan State season, as 2014 has been more about the Spartan offense than the Spartan defense.


What if David Cobb can?t play at Wisconsin this Saturday? Well, I think the Gophers will be OK with some nice depth at the position in the likes of Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams. Either way, the Gophers have a plan.


Big Ten newcomers Rutgers and Maryland hook up this Saturday in what could be an emerging rivalry.

The ingredients are there.

"They're a local team," wide receiver Leonte Carroo said of the school located 200 miles south of Rutgers. "This could be huge for the program years later, recruiting-wise. That's the main thing, recruiting-wise. To get a win over them would just be huge for the program."


Sam McKewon of gets it: fresh sites can keep bowls from going stale. That?s the concept behind the Big Ten?s new bowl arrangement.


Frustrated? Yep. That describes Nebraska?s Ameer Abdullah.

It hasn?t been an ideal season for Abdullah and the Cornhuskers, who face the specter of another four-loss season. And Abdullah has had to deal with injury, too, exasperating his situation.

?It sucks. It definitely does suck,? Abdullah said. ?But God does everything for a reason. I have been frustrated the last couple of weeks, to be honest."

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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