Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 2, 2014

So many questions loom around Cardale Jones. Can he pass? Run? Take a hit? Who knows? But what a stage for discovery, playing in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title and a possible playoff spot.

Bill Livingston of says it basically boils down to this: OSU will be trying to scheme running plays to lessen the pressure on Jones. Wisconsin will crowd the line, daring Jones to throw. It is tough to run in those situations.

To prep for Jones, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen looked at high school tape of the Buckeye sophomore. There just isn?t much OSU tape. notes that Jones, a former standout at Glenville High School in Cleveland, took 39 snaps last year as a redshirt freshman, and has played seven games this season as a backup, throwing 17 passes and carrying the ball 26 times. Not exactly a lot for Andersen and Wisconsin's defensive staff to go off of.

"From what I've seen on him, he's very talented obviously," Andersen said. "It doesn't change how we prepare. I'm sure Ohio State will use him to the best of his abilities and the young men around him will allow their offense to be at its best."


The Heisman race is in its final stretch. And Oregon?s Marcus Mariota is the leader, by most accounts. Can anyone catch him? Perhaps Wisconsin?s Melvin Gordon?

Sure Gordon can! If he rushes for over 200 yards in a win vs. Ohio State in the Big Ten title game-and Oregon loses the Pac-12 championship game to Arizona-Gordon can take home the hardware.


Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg thinks that things will get better. They can?t much worse than they have been in 2014-15 picks ? 42 sacks.

David Jones of says this season has blindsided Hackenberg to some extent. He's had to feel his way through it. And in the end, he'll be the better for it. Adversity builds character.


Count Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press among those impressed with the progress of Minnesota under Jerry Kill. But until they win the Axe ? well, ?

That?s 11 wins in a row for Wisconsin vs. Minnesota.


Good news for Rutgers: stud defensive tackle Darius Hamilton says he will return for his senior season.

Hamilton's father, Keith, had a 12-year career as a defensive lineman for the Giants from 1992-2003. That background had a major influence on Hamilton's decision to stay at RU.

"I've talked with my family about it," Hamilton said. "The most important thing for me is to get my degree. Obviously the NFL has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. Just to be close to it now is a great feeling. But I've got a lot more things I want to accomplish here and a lot more things I want to do."


No doubt, it was a disappointing season at Iowa, which went 7-5. A.D. Gary Barta discusses the disappointment on

"Really disappointed for our seniors," Barta said. ?It was a week ago we were in contention for the Big Ten championship."

Back-to-back home losses to Wisconsin and Nebraska, by a combined five points, soured the Hawkeyes' season. Whether there will be football staffing changes hasn't been discussed, Barta said. Disappointment with the offense has been well-documented. Stay tuned.


The gang at thinks the loss to Illinois may be just what Northwestern needed.

The point: a shock to the system may force NU to look hard at its program and make some changes. has no idea how significant the changes will be. Assistant coaches might go. But they might not. Regardless of how superficially tangible the changes are though, Saturday made them inevitable. They were always necessary. Before the loss to Illinois, they were possible. Now they're inevitable. Two or three years from now, we very well might look back on Saturday's loss as a turning point of the Pat Fitzgerald era. But not a negative one – a positive one.


Kyle Austin of has five questions and answers after a long holiday weekend in Florida for the Michigan State hoops team.

And as this Michigan State team begins to take shape, the many preseason questions of a rebuilt squad have started to be answered, according to Austin. The most definitive is whether senior point guard Travis Trice could step into a featured role: a resounding yes. He's done it almost seamlessly as the Spartans' most consistent player and biggest bright spot through the first two weeks of the season.

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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