Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 9, 2015

The hype continues to build for Monday night?s national championship game. No doubt, the play of the quarterbacks will play a big role in the outcome. takes a look at how Oregon?s Marcus Mariota and Ohio State?s Cardale Jones stack up numbers-wise.

On the subject of Ohio State, how good of a job has Urban Meyer done this year? It has to be one of the all-time best coaching jobs ever, right?

The way Meyer has managed an injury-riddled quarterback spot and improved the defense has been remarkable.


Who is Jim Harbaugh rooting for to win the national championship? Ohio State.

"I'm going to be rooting for Ohio State," Harbaugh said Thursday on the Rich Eisen Show. "I'm a Midwesterner. I was raised in Ohio, I went to Michigan, raised in Michigan as well. But for Big Ten football, for Midwest football — there's been a lot of talk about other conferences, et cetera, but I think it's just fabulous a team in our conference is playing in that game.

"I'd rather it be us, though."

On a side note ? it is nice that Harbaugh calls Ohio State ?Ohio State? and not ?Ohio.? No more eighth-grade humor. That?s all I?m gonna say about that.

*** has a nice five-part series analyzing every college football coaching hire since 2001 in the Power Five to see how each school and conference has performed. Here is a look at the Big Ten.


No need to panic, Penn State fans. Defensive coordinator John Shoop is staying in State College, Pa.

Shoop has work to do in 2015, as PSU must replace a number of key starters, including first-team All-Big Ten linebacker Mike Hull, defensive ends Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan and safeties Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser.


Here is a way-too-early look at Northwestern?s 2015 depth chart.

And here is a look at what the offensive depth chart could look like.

Let?s just say the 2015 season will be interesting in Evanston, as NU has missed the postseason the last two years.


Yes, Minnesota is 0-3 in the Big Ten. But Gophers coach Richard Pitino insists this year?s team is better than last year?s.

"We are significantly better than last year," he said. "You want that to translate to wins and sometimes it doesn't, so you've just got to believe in the process of what you're doing. I'd like to win them all. And I'd prefer to win them all and play like crap than lose, but it is what it is. I think we're moving in the right direction. I really do. I really do."


I was a bit surprised to see the coaching staff changes that Illinois? Tim Beckman made yesterday.

Special teams coach Tim Salem and defensive line coach Greg Colby were let go. Is this the last of the changes? If they are, will these alterations really make that much of difference?


Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a nice story that parallels the current situations of Iowa?s Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma?s Bob Stoops.

Stoops is coming off an 8-5 season that rivals the worst he?s had since his first season at OU. Ferentz?s Hawkeyes were 7-6. In the preseason, both were projected to be much better than they performed. The Sooners were believed to be a national-title contender. Iowa was the pick of many to win the Big Ten West, myself included. Then there were ugly bowl results.


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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