Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 19, 2015

Finally, Indiana and Purdue will play a big game with something on the line, as each is jockeying for NCAA positioning and a run at second place in the Big Ten. An IU-Purdue with meaning has been rare of late.

The notes that not since Feb. 4, 2010, has an Indiana-Purdue game been decided by fewer than 11 points. In the intervening nine games, the average margin of victory has been 19 points, with Purdue winning 5-of-9.

"You go back and look through the years, I think it gets cyclical more than anything, in terms of who's playing well," Purdue coach Matt Painter said this week. "But it's a good rivalry. We're trying to worry about our end."

Two whacky facts: Not since the 2007-08 season have Purdue (second) and IU (third) both finished in the top four in the Big Ten standings. Only once since then have both programs finished with a winning record in league play in the same season (2011-12).


Tim Miles has to feel at times that the walls are falling down around him, what with the Cornhuskers sitting 13-12 overall and 5-8 in the Big Ten a year after being the talk of the Big Ten by making a run to the school?s first NCAA bid since 1998. Big things were expected in 2014-15 with a veteran roster back. Tom Shatel of has a good story on how Miles is, well, still Miles.

Shatel says the results are different this season. The man won?t ever be.

?I?ve lost enough games in my lifetime,? Miles said. ?I?m not going to let one year change who I am, or my optimism or my search for hope, the things that are so important to permeate your program.

?One losing season doesn?t make you a loser. It?s not how you define yourself. Things haven?t gone our way this year. I still think we can flip a switch here down the stretch.?


The NFL Combine will be heating up. Lots of news circulating about the ?Underwear Olympics.? To wit: Michigan State has six players at the event in Indianapolis. That is tops among Big Ten schools and the most in Mark Dantonio era.

Cornerback Trae Waynes is the only underclassman among the six MSU players headed to the combine and the highest projected pick of the group, unanimously projected to be a first-round selection. The other Michigan State players at the combine: WR/CB Tony Lippett, RB Jeremy Langford, WR Keith Mumphery, LB Taiwan Jones and FS Kurtis Drummond. I am eager to see how Lippett does. What will the NFL think of Langford?


But know this: Just because you aren?t invited to the combine, it doesn?t mean you aren?t a promising prospect. Take Penn State?s Deion Barnes, for example. And know this: Wisconsin?s Beau Allen was invited last year. He was a seventh-round pick by the Eagles and ended up starting.


OK, this mini-Rutgers saga involving the potential hiring of a booster/business man as recruiting coordinator is over. Turns out: He won?t get the job. Thank goodness. This just didn?t feel right.

"Jeff Towers has withdrawn his name from consideration for a job on the Rutgers Football staff," Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said in a statement. "I am pleased to know Mr. Towers remains eager to help Rutgers Football become an elite Big Ten program."

As a business executive with no known football background, Towers' candidacy for the recruiting coordinator position raised eyebrows. I mean, the guy gave $1 million to help fund Flood?s salary-and then Flood was going to hire him to work for him? How could this even have been considered?


Wisconsin has seen RB coach Thomas Brown leave for Georgia. The leading candidate? John Settle, according to the great Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Settle coached at UW from 2006-'10 and Paul Chryst was UW's offensive coordinator during that time. Settle also worked under Chryst last season at Pittsburgh. New Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi did not retain Settle. Brown was one of two coaches retained by Chryst after he replaced Gary Andersen at UW. Settle's best work at UW came in 2010, when James White, John Clay and Montee Ball combined to rush for 3,060 yards and 46 touchdowns.

Not bad. Hire this man!


I look forward to Minnesota?s spring practice. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover has some work to do as he looks to take his attack to another level. Chief among his goals is finding a back to replace David Cobb.

Limegrover told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that it will probably be a multi-person job, though he did say, "I think Rodrick [Williams] is working hard to prove that he can be a 22-25 carry, 55-65 play guy." Limegrover is also excited to see what Berkley Edwards, Rodney Smith and Jeff Jones can do this spring.

Now, about the Gophers? passing game ?


The gang at has a great spring football guide for Northwestern. The Wildcats start practice on Feb. 25. Bundle up, boys.

All eyes will be on the QB spot. Pat Fitzgerald has to figure out this position. I?m not sure if Zack Oliver or Matt Alviti are the solution. Is Clayton Thorson the guy? Hmmm.


Wrist surgery for Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott wrote on Twitter earlier this week that he'll have surgery again on his left wrist Friday. initially reported the planned surgery for Friday. It's not a shock. Elliott said during the Buckeyes' national championship season that he expected to have the wrist repaired again.


It has been all over social media, this stuff about Jameis Winston seeking QB tutelage from Jim Harbaugh at Michigan recently. Winston has gushed on about the facilities in Ann Arbor-and says he wished he could have played for Harbaugh.


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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