Big Ten: Indiana Hoosiers

Big Ten viewer's guide: Week 6

October, 4, 2014
Oct 4
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Three teams take a break this weekend as we approach the midway point of the 2014 season. There are still plenty of intriguing narratives to follow in the five Big Ten showdowns Saturday. The conference expansion teams get a chance to prove themselves against traditional league powers. The early leader for the Big Ten’s best playoff contender also will be made clear by the end of the night.

It’s time to find out how much wheat lies among the chaff this season (all times Eastern).

Noon games

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteCan Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes get a road win against Big Ten newcomer Maryland?
No. 20 Ohio State (3-1) at Maryland (4-1), ABC: The Buckeyes make their second trip to the Old Line State this season, this time to open conference play against newcomer Maryland. The Terps have one of the league's most explosive offenses and have proved they can bring more than just the metro-area television audience to the Big Ten. Ohio State and its freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett will be their toughest test to date.

Purdue (2-3) at Illinois (3-2), ESPN2: Illini quarterback Wes Lunt has 11 touchdown passes and only three interceptions through five games with his new team. Lunt & Co. probably need a win against the struggling Boilermakers on Saturday to feel good about their chances of reaching a bowl game at the end of the season.

Afternoon games

North Texas (2-2) at Indiana (2-2), 2:30, BTN: The Mean Green visit an Indiana team that had an up-and-down September. They wedged a major upset against Missouri between disappointing losses to Bowling Green and Maryland. The Hoosiers' defense needs to find more consistency, but shouldn't have too much of an issue with a North Texas team that ranks 115th in total offense.

No. 17 Wisconsin (3-1) at Northwestern (2-2), 3:30, ESPN2: Pat Fitzgerald successfully installed some grit in his lineup last week, holding Penn State out of the end zone on the road. Can Northwestern hang with the more powerful Wisconsin offense in Evanston? Badgers running back Melvin Gordon had his way with opposing defenses in the team's past two victories.

Night games

Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1), 7:00, BTN: Playing football should be a welcome reprieve for Brady Hoke and his Michigan team after the week they had in Ann Arbor. Devin Gardner returns to quarterback for a Wolverines offense riddled with problems. Rutgers freshman defensive end Kemoko Turay should have a good opportunity to build on his one-sack-per-game average this season. Gardner will have to solve his turnover issues to get out of New Jersey with a win and help stop the bleeding.

No. 19 Nebraska (5-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (3-1), 8:00, ABC: In what could be the most important Big Ten game of the season, conference title and national playoff implications are at stake in East Lansing on Saturday night. The Spartans have won 18 of their past 20, and most of those have been double-digit victories. Nebraska, led by Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah, is the league's last chance for a perfect record. If the Huskers can get past Michigan State, an undefeated season becomes a much more realistic possibility.

Required reading

Planning for success: Indiana

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
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The words "program changer" were tossed around the Indiana locker room Saturday night. The Hoosers' 31-27 upset of No. 18 Missouri on the road marks a major milestone for the turnaround head coach Kevin Wilson is leading in Bloomington.

D'Angelo Roberts' touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining gave Indiana its first win against a ranked opponent in its last 19 tries. It had been a decade since the Hoosiers took down any ranked foe on the road, let alone the reigning SEC East champion.

[+] EnlargeTevin Coleman
L.G. Patterson/AP PhotoTevin Coleman and Indiana can't rest now, despite beating Missouri, as they face Maryland on Saturday.
Wilson said the win gave his players some reassurance that preparing the right away eventually produces results. Indiana (2-1) is operating with new confidence in its plan for success. Now, the Hoosiers just have to make sure they aren't too busy celebrating to follow the plan again.

"It's easy to drop your guard, drop your hands and not come out ready to play the next game. That's human nature," Wilson said. "Now, you have to repeat the walk and you have to do it over and over. You're the same person. Great players are really just very good all the time."

Maryland (3-1) visits Bloomington for its Big Ten debut this weekend with a chance to zap all of Indiana's positive momentum. The Hoosiers wouldn't be the first team this season to suffer a setback immediately following a monumental victory.

Virginia Tech is 2014's most notable cautionary tale after four weeks of the season. The Hokies jumped into the national polls after beating Big Ten title contender Ohio State in Week 2. They followed that with an upset loss to East Carolina and haven't won since. Georgia also had a little bit of a letdown game -- albeit against stiff competition in South Carolina -- after rolling through Clemson to open the season.

"We need to remember the good things, but we can't worry about Missouri now or remember Missouri because Maryland is probably as talented a group (as) we'll face skill-wise," said Indiana defensive coordinator Brian Knorr.

The Terps average 36.8 points per game and flexed some of that individual talent in a recent win over Syracuse on the road. C.J. Brown is in his third season as a starting quarterback and has a full set of big-play threats in the passing game. Wide receivers Stefon Diggs, Marcus Leak and Deon Long are all capable of getting behind a defense on any given play.

Indiana has some game breakers of its own. Junior running back Tevin Coleman leads the nation with 189.7 rushing yards per game. He could have another big day against a Maryland defense that is currently last among Big Ten teams, giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.

The Hoosiers are four-point favorites to win, but no one has to remind Wilson that college football fortune is fickle. A week before beating Missouri, his team was on the wrong end of a last-minute upset. Bowling Green scored with nine seconds remaining to beat Indiana 45-42 and punctuate a reputation-shaking day for the conference.

Wilson told his players last week they had to put the Bowling Green game behind them to compete with Missouri. Now, they have to make sure they do the same against Maryland.

"That's our challenge to these guys," Wilson said. "Let's go back to what we do and how we do it. If you like that feeling, remember all the things it took to get there."

Watch: IU brings the slip 'n slide to practice

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
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After a long, grueling practice in the searing August heat, few things are more precious to football players than water.

On Wednesday, the Indiana football players got it in spades. Much to the delight of the team, the Hoosiers staff set up a slip 'n slide. And that's when the fun began -- including a sliding appearance from the big man himself, head coach Kevin Wilson.

There will be familiar faces around weight rooms and in front of overhead projectors in football complexes this summer: coaches’ faces.

Big deal.

Except it is a big deal, at least to the coaches who can now occupy strength and conditioning sessions and hold film study with their players.

The NCAA partially adopted a rule from the hardwood in October allowing a maximum of eight hours of mandatory workouts for players for eight weeks of the summer. What football coaches really care about, however, is the ability to watch those conditioning sessions and meet with their players for up to two hours each week. Any on-the-field work with footballs is still prohibited.

[+] EnlargeKevin Wilson
AP Photo/Andy ManisIndiana coach Kevin Wilson is one of many coaches that can visit with players in the summer rather than relying on "spies" to get information on offseason workouts.
“You don’t need secret spies anymore,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson told ESPN.com. “You can just watch your football team now. ... It’s common sense that if I’m in control and if I want to walk in the weight room and watch them lift weights then I can watch them lift weights.”

It is uncharted territories for most coaches, who are used to relying on third-party word of mouth from the program’s strength coach and upperclassmen on how summer workouts are progressing and whether freshmen are adjusting. Some coaches began mapping out how they would use their eight hours when the rule was passed, while others will take the pulse of the team and adjust accordingly. For some, they’ll protect the details of those hour splits as if it were the playbook.

“We have to carve out [player meetings] with our strength coach, time that we can take away from his hours because you’re not adding extra time,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “There is this model that I’m not interested in giving up to anybody, that we think gives us a balance.”

Notre Dame is still debating between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire as its starting quarterback, so Kelly can spend part of the summer mentally preparing both for the upcoming competition. He will institute a “spring ball installation” of the core offensive plays and defensive structure, “something we’ve never been able to do in June.” He’ll also show his quarterbacks all of their mistakes in previous settings in hopes of limiting them once the season begins.

The vast majority, if not all, are in favor of the rule, although to varying degrees. Indiana’s Wilson has walk-on players who could eventually earn a scholarship, so those players feel a need to attend summer workouts. He knows that means some will take out additional loans for summer school.

For the coaches, with summers now filled with prospect camps and recruiting visits, there are fewer hours to break away from the football facility. Wilson will take advantage of the change, but he wonders whether coaches will suffer from the burnout a 365-day coaching calendar lends itself to. The NCAA implemented a two-week summer dead period to combat the evolving recruiting calendar, but Wilson knows some coaches will stick around to watch tape with players.

“It’s a little ironic they added a rule that for two weeks a recruit can’t come in but added a rule so you can spend that time with your players,” first-year Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson told ESPN.com.

Added Wilson: “How do we find the balance? It’s nice we can work with them, but it’s finding a balance where your coaches can find sanity. It’s nice we can talk legally but … I think you can overcoach.

“It will be interesting after year one, whether coaches will say they want to do more or do less.”

No school returns fewer starters in 2014 than Utah State, so coach Matt Wells is tasked with making sure those players who will be asked to step up this fall are physically and mentally able. He is also cognizant that his staff spending too much time with the team this summer could produce undesired results.

[+] EnlargeDave Clawson
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesThe new NCAA rules are a boon to first-year coaches such as Wake Forest's Dave Clawson, who get a chance to get acclimated with their new players.
In the early portion of the summer, Wells will meet with his team more often than he might in July. He will bring the program’s newcomers up to speed with scheme and terminology in meetings, but he also doesn’t want to overload them. With the upperclassmen, he believes it will become counterproductive to have extended and repetitive classroom sessions.

“We’re going to still lean on player-led meetings, voluntary meetings the coaches aren’t in because it builds leadership in your team and in position groups,” Wells told ESPN.com. “We’ve benefitted from that the last three summers from an increased leadership role, and I think it’s important for the players to have a break from the coaches.”

For first-year coaches such as Clawson, the new rule will narrow the learning curve this fall as his players continue to adjust to his offensive and defensive ideologies. Clawson is seemingly like most coaches, though, in that he does not favor using the full two hours for Football 101 seminars. Wake Forest’s new coach is not deviating much from the old summer status quo.

When he and his staff assessed the Demon Deacons following the spring, he felt strength and conditioning was lacking most. So when mandatory summer workouts kicked off, he decided he’d only spend 30 minutes to an hour each week meetings with players.

“It didn’t make sense to take two hours away from that,” he said.

That could change in the coming weeks, though. While some schools already have their entire incoming freshman class on campus, Clawson won’t see all of his until July. He said the previous rule preventing coaches from working with freshmen lacked common sense.

“It used to be awful, the first time a freshman’s ever on campus and you can’t be around them,” Clawson said. “When these guys first get here, you need to have some involvement. Part of recruiting is parents trusting you with their son, and first time they drop them off, to not be allowed around them was very hard.”

Season wrap: Indiana

January, 15, 2014
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Indiana's high hopes for 2013 took a hit with a Sept. 7 loss to Navy, but dreams of a second bowl appearance in 20 years -- and first since 2007 -- were bolstered by a 44-24 victory over Penn State to open Big Ten play. Despite scoring 114 points in the next three games, coach Kevin Wilson's team lost all three.

That was the story of the year for Indiana -- a breathtakingly bad defense that cost coordinator Doug Mallory his job. The Hoosiers ranked 121st nationally in total defense and 11th or 12th in the Big Ten in every major defensive category. On the bright side, Indiana scored 38.4 points per game and averaged more than 500 yards of offense.

Offensive MVP: Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Splitting time with Tre Roberson, Sudfeld earned eight starts and completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 2,523 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Hoosiers hummed offensively for much of the season behind the 6-foot-5 Californian, though things got ugly late as he struggled against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Defensive MVP: Junior cornerback Tim Bennett. A bright spot in a dark season defensively, Bennett led the Hoosiers and ranked No. 1 nationally, according to IU, with 20 pass breakups. He provided solid tackling as an anchor in the Indiana secondary with a team-high 61 solo stops. And he showed well against top opponents, creating turnovers in Indiana's losses to Missouri and Michigan State.

Best moment: The Hoosiers' Oct. 5 win over Penn State in Bloomington, Ind., marked the first victory by IU in 17 games in the series. It also was the first victory to open a Big Ten season for Indiana since 2000. So you can understand the enthusiasm that accompanied this performance. Sudfeld threw for 321 yards against the Nittany Lions.

Worst moment: The Hoosiers' shot at a bowl game was essentially extinguished on Nov. 2 as Minnesota beat IU 42-39 on homecoming weekend at Memorial Stadium. Indiana stormed back from 22-point deficit to lead by four with five minutes left. The Hoosiers then lost the lead, but drove to the 9-yard line before Sudfeld's errant second-down throw to Tevin Coleman was ruled a lateral and recovered by the Gophers.

Midseason report: Indiana

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
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The upward trend continues under third-year Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.

The Hoosiers, with three wins and games remaining at home against Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue, are eyeing their first postseason appearance since 2007 and second in the past 20 years.

Indiana took care of business in the nonconference against Indiana State and Bowling Green, and it beat Penn State for the first time in 17 tries. Wilson’s squad also remained competitive against unbeaten Missouri and defensive powerhouse Michigan State. The Hoosiers’ 28 points against MSU ranked as a season-high figure against the Spartans defense.

Offensively, Indiana is legitimate, totaling more than 500 yards per game to sit 17th nationally and second in the Big Ten to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers pass for 331 yards per game and rush it for 172. They topped 600 yards twice in September and blitzed PSU for 486.

On defense, it’s a bit of a different story. Indiana struggles against the run in particular, allowing 217 yards per game. Not really much better against the pass, so it’s no wonder the 456 yards of total offense it allows ranks 105th nationally. And it’s giving up 32.8 points per game.

MSU, with an offense dormant for much of this season, torched the Hoosiers for 42 points and 473 yards.

Looking for a way to improve? Try getting off the field on third down. Indiana’s foes are converting 44 percent of their third downs and moving the chains at a rate of 25.2 per game, 118th out of 123 FBS teams.

The hope for Indiana is that it doesn’t lose too much steam with consecutive road games at Wisconsin a Ohio State in November. A finale await on Nov. 30 against Purdue, possibly with bowl eligibility at stake for the Hoosiers.

Offensive MVP: Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld is a big, durable guy, second in the Big Ten in opponent-adjusted QBR, second in passing yardage and tied for the league lead with 13 touchdown throws. He was fairly consistent through the first half of the season until last week at Michigan State, where he struggled.

Defensive MVP: Junior cornerback Tim Bennett has contributed in multiple ways, notably with his four pass breakups and eight solo tackles in the win over Penn State. He’s credited with a nation-leading 14 breakups, one interception, a fumble recovery, two tackles for losses and a team-high 45 stops.

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson talks with ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg about the outlook for the Hoosiers in 2013.
We always say around here that spring games are overrated from an information-gathering standpoint. Still, you can't blame fans for wanting to see their team in action, and those whose schools have new coaches were especially curious to see what things were looking like this spring.

That's one reason it's no surprise that Ohio State and Penn State had two of the three largest spring game crowds in the nation this year, according to Sports Business Daily.

The Buckeyes led the country in spring game attendance, with 81,112 coming out to get a glimpse of the new Urban Meyer regime. No one should be surprised by the passion for the Scarlet and Grey; Ohio State claims the all-time spring game record, with more than 95,000 showing up for the 2009 event.

Defending national champion Alabama was second with 78,526, followed by Penn State at 60,000. The Nittany Lions got a large turnout for Bill O'Brien's Beaver Stadium debut and the first spring game without Joe Paterno in half a century.

Spring game attendance is often largely dependent on the weather, and it must be said that weather conditions were truly terrible throughout most of the Big Ten for spring games. Rain and chilly temperatures were the norm, holding down crowds at places like Michigan and Michigan State. Storms canceled the Nebraska spring game, which surely would have been packed since the Huskers drew more than 66,000 last year and better than 77,000 the previous two spring games. Indiana and Purdue both moved their events indoors and mostly kept fans away to escape lightning.

So the numbers were lower than they should have been, but here is how other Big Ten schools ranked nationally in spring game attendance:

17. Michigan: 25,000
20: Michigan State: 20,000
31: Iowa: 15,000
36: Wisconsin: 10,479
53. Minnesota: 3,500
55. Illinois: 3,000

Note: Northwestern did not report its attendance for the spring game.

You can tell from this 2011 chart that the numbers were down from their averages in a lot of places. Let's hope for better weather next spring.

Big Ten Thursday mailbag

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
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The depravity and decadence of Derby weekend await me. But first: your emails.

Bryan from Chicago writes: Regarding your handicapping of the B1G race, I'm betting on all teams. With the odds you gave each team, if you add them up, the player has about a 33% advantage over the house! If you ever decide to open a casino, let me know and I'll be the first one in line. But, if I'm taking 1 team, betting with emotions I'm taking my Huskers -- hoping they can outscore a lot of teams this year. Betting with brains, I'm taking Wisconsin -- no Ohio State to worry about, gives them the easiest road to the title game and who knows once you get there, and 8-1 is a good payout.

Brian Bennett: In defense of my admittedly poor math skills, Indiana is much higher than the listed 99-to-1, but the toteboard can only handle double-digit numbers. And Ohio State's scratch threw off the odds. But I agree with you about Nebraska and Wisconsin being pretty good value plays. I'd add Penn State to that mix as well.


Brian from Newark, DE, writes: Am I the only person not completely overjoyed with this whole playoff deal? To me, it's a real stretch to call a two game tournament a playoff. There's four teams involved. Granted, that's double what the current system allows. But it's still not exactly opening the championship up like the basketball tournament does. All this really amounts to is one extra game for two teams. So can we stop calling it a playoff and start referring to it as what it really is: The one more game after the bowls so we can all make a little more money and appease the fans bowl?

Brian Bennett: Brian (great name, by the way, and correct spelling), I'm perfectly fine with the four-team format. It keeps the value of the regular season, keeps the season from dragging far into January and still opens the championship up to more teams. How many years have there been more than four legitimate national title contenders at the end of the year, anyway? I've never been in favor of a 16-team format because that's too many teams and not enough quality. An eight-teamer would be a lot of fun, and I think we will eventually see an expansion of any playoff system. But for now, while we can quibble with the details, let's rejoice that the sport is actually giving us something we want.


Zach from Lincoln writes: Why are we even listening to the "on campus semi-finals won't work" [sentiment]?? I understand they are worried about teams with small stadiums not being able to host large crowds, but how many times since the BCS model was created has 1 of those teams been #1 or #2? Zero is the correct answer. Also, even if one of these teams did eventually finish #1 or #2 doesn't the fact that college stadiums are in general larger than NFL stadiums make up for the fact that there could be a smaller venue every once in a blue moon?

Brian Bennett: Couldn't agree more with you, Zach. The capacity of the Superdome is just over 72,000, while Sun Life Stadium -- home of the Orange Bowl -- seats a little more than 75,000. There would be a whole lot more seats (and money to be made) with games at the Big House, Horseshoe, Bryant-Denny, etc. MGoBlog does a good job of breaking down the difference in capacity and how campus sites would have meant more, not less, seats during the BCS era in this post.


Josh S. ? @josh_sim writes: Re: Big 6. Won't voters change their voting patterns and work around the rules for best matchups?

Brian Bennett: That's a concern with any system, including the one we have now. Which is why we need to take this out of the hands of voters, especially one with obvious biases like the coaches themselves.


Roger from Denver, Colo., writes: Really, 25 [for Ohio State in your rankings]? Come on, Blue had the easiest schedule in the conference, barely beat an extremely down The Ohio State team and you have Blue ranked top 10 not to mention in ACC bowl game that they really lost but got a bogus call in their favor on a touchdown.

Brian Bennett: The mountain air might be getting to you, Roger. Fact is, Michigan went 11-2 last year while Ohio State was 6-7. Michigan brought back its coaching staff and arguably the most productive backfield in the league (Denard Robinson and Fitz Toussaint), while the Buckeyes will be going through a coaching transition and lack offensive playmakers. I like Ohio State to be much improved this season, and there's no question the team has talent. But given last year's results, I think a ranking at the bottom of the Top 25 is fair for this point in the year.


Dying for The Gophers To Be Relevant Again from Minneapolis writes: I find it interesting how people get excited about the new A.D. at Minnesota. Everyone is giddy over his fund raising abilities. Sure, raising funds is important for all programs, but winning is the key. Some would say that fund raising will help winning, I believe that winning will hep fund raising. Your thoughts?

Brian Bennett: An athletic director absolutely has to be able to do two things right: hire good coaches, and keep the money fountain flowing. Since Norwood Teague didn't hire Jerry Kill, the best thing he can do is make sure donations are coming in so the Gophers can keep up with facilities, salaries, etc. Winning solves a lot of ills, but ultimately that will be up to Kill and his staff to it make happen.


David from Houston writes: I just saw your 4/26 mailbag and the Wisconsin coach and AD answers concerning their non-conference scheduling. As a Badger, I'm calling "BS" on Bret Bielema. His answer of "people don't want to play here" may be right in some rare instances, but that is most definitely not what is going on with Badger scheduling. The real issues are this: 1) The Badgers will only play one road game per year (at least Barry was honest about that one). 2) Wisconsin is not willing to schedule more than one BCS opponent per season. They went through a nice stretch for 2001-2003 of playing two such schools, but that turned out to be an aberration. 3) They won't even do that if they think a future year's Big Ten Schedule is "too tough." See the 8-year postponement of the Virginia Tech games. ... The Pac-12 deal is nice, but this team is not going to then start scheduling 2 BCS foes each season. This will just take their one good game out of their hands, leaving them to deal with the 3 buy games each year.

Brian Bennett: David, I can understand your frustration as a fan in not getting to see great nonconference games at Camp Randall. At the same time, Wisconsin is not alone in only scheduling one BCS AQ school per year in its nonconference slate. In the Big Ten alone, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue all only have one such opponent on their schedule this season. Indiana has none.

While I'd love to see the Badgers schedule more aggressively, it just doesn't pay many dividends for schools to do so. The Badgers went to the Rose Bowl the past two years and were a couple plays away from being in the national title mix both times. I hope the new playoff format rewards strength of schedule to encourage all teams to play better nonconference opponents.


Max from Madras, India, writes: Brian, what do you think is more detrimental to the season? QB competition and playing 4 guys in your spring game, a la PSU? Or pretty much knowing who your starter is going to be, and not having him for your spring game, a la MSU? Or at this stage does it really matter?

Brian Bennett: It's early enough to not really matter. Remember Wisconsin won the Big Ten last year, and its starting quarterback didn't arrive in Madison until the summer. But in the scenario you mention, I'd much rather be Michigan State. The Spartans know Andrew Maxwell will be their starter, and his injury wasn't serious. He's been in the program for four years, so playing in a spring game means very little. Penn State still doesn't seem to be settled at the position. Maxwell can confidently lead the offense all summer. I'm not sure any of Penn State's quarterbacks can do the same.


Paul from Orlando, Fla., writes: Last season, Nebraska had All Big Ten-caliber players at each level of the defense in Crick, David and Dennard. Although these players made major contributions in 2011, the defense ranked a mere 36th nationally in total defense; well outside the norm for a Pelini coached defense. It appeared, especially early in the season, that offensive coordinators could simply pick on the young guy lined up opposite Crick, David or Dennard and these players didn?t really impact their game plans. This spring Pelini has been vocal about how much he likes his secondary and expects the defensive line and linebackers to be a solid veteran group. Do you think having a veteran defense without any weak links and a potentially dominate group at one level of the defense can lead to a better 2012 defense despite the loss of such great players?

Brian Bennett: It's an interesting question, and one I've been thinking about a lot this season. In fairness to the 2012 Huskers, Crick, David and Dennard were never really all healthy at the same time. But a big problem, as you mentioned, was the obvious holes on that defense. Bo Pelini seemed optimistic this spring about the defensive play, but aren't all coaches optimistic in the spring? Still, I think this defense has a chance to be very solid. I just want to see a couple of players take the next step into becoming major difference-makers, whether that's a guy like Will Compton or Cameron Meredith or Daimion Stafford. You need special players to be a truly special defense.


Mr. Pewter from Farmland, Iowa, writes: I hate the new Cy-Hawk trophy. I am still going to rally around my family with a basket full of corn. Come with it now!

Brian Bennett: You keep raging against that machine.

Big Ten lunchtime links

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
12:00
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Hey, didn't you use to be Albert Pujols?

Big Ten lunchtime links

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
12:00
PM ET
Happy birthday to Rogers Hornsby, Ulysses S. Grant, Enos Slaughter, George "Iceman" Gervin, Chris Carpenter, Sheena Easton and ... I know I'm forgetting somebody. Who could it be?

Big Ten lunchtime links

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
12:00
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Many Bothans died bringing us this information.
The Big Ten has released its complete prime-time schedule for the 2012 season, with 14 total games under the lights this fall. That includes six games on the ABC/ESPN family of networks and eight on the Big Ten Network.

Here you go, night owls (all kickoffs listed in ET):

Aug. 31

Boise State at Michigan State, 8 p.m., ESPN

Sept. 1

Indiana State at Indiana, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Sept. 8

Vanderbilt at Northwestern, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 15


Notre Dame at Michigan State, 8 p.m., ABC
Utah State at Wisconsin, 8 p.m., BTN
Ball State at Indiana, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 22

Syracuse at Minnesota, 8 p.m., BTN
Louisiana Tech at Illinois, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 29

Wisconsin at Nebraska, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Oct. 6

Nebraska at Ohio State, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Oct. 13

Ohio State at Indiana, 8 p.m., BTN

Oct. 20

Penn State at Iowa, 8 p.m., BTN

Oct. 27

Ohio State at Penn State, 6 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Michigan at Nebraska, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Thoughts:
  • Every Big Ten team except Purdue will have at least one night game this season. The Boilermakers have to be a little disappointed after getting to a bowl game last year and bringing back a talented roster. Nebraska and Ohio State will each play three league games under the lights.
  • If you were planning on going to a Halloween party on Oct. 27, better make sure you have access to a TV -- or TVs. Not only will the Ohio State-Penn State and Michigan-Nebraska games be on in prime time, that's also the same day Wisconsin and Michigan State meet up at Camp Randall Stadium. It's a little hard to believe that game, which is a rematch of two epic duels from last season, won't be in prime time. But the two chosen for night slots are also big and feature four enormous fan bases. Wisconsin-Michigan State likely will get the 3:30 p.m. ET time slot in what is shaping up to be the biggest day of the season in the Big Ten.
  • Ohio State will play three of its four October games at night, including Nebraska's visit to the Horseshoe. It's no surprise, given the Buckeyes' following and the presence of Urban Meyer. Even without the ability to play in the postseason, the Buckeyes figure to be an attractive team for TV ratings purposes this year. The atmosphere in Columbus when Big Red comes to town should be absolutely electric.
  • Speaking of Nebraska, three of the Huskers' biggest games of the season will all be in prime time. Bo Pelini's team will get a chance to atone for blowout losses to Wisconsin and Michigan under the lights at Memorial Stadium. That place got crazy for last year's huge comeback win against Ohio State at night and should be similarly fired up for the Badgers and Wolverines.
  • Penn State will have back-to-back prime-time games, and neither will be easy. The Nittany Lions must travel to Kinnick Stadium, which is usually a great atmosphere at night. It's the third time in four years those two teams have played at night. Penn State will also play the following week after dark versus Ohio State, which should provide an advantage for the Nittany Lions. There was no night game at Beaver Stadium last year, which didn't sit too well with the Penn State faithful. They've got a perfect white-out opportunity with Meyer and the Buckeyes coming to State College.
  • Adam and I had Michigan State No. 1 in our pre-spring power rankings and may very well keep the Spartans there through the summer. But Michigan State will not get any prime-time exposure during conference season. The night games against Boise State (on a Friday) and Notre Dame were no-brainers, and with both at home the Spartans will need good showings to impress the rest of the country.
  • Northwestern had three straight night games last season but gets only one all season this year, in the academic bowl against Vanderbilt. Assuming both student bodies aren't studying, that could be a fun game.
  • Wisconsin won't get the benefit of playing at Camp Randall at night this year, except against Utah State. And the Badgers didn't figure to need much help in that game.
  • The night kickoff could also help Minnesota in an interesting nonconference game against Syracuse. The Gophers had only one night game a year ago and lost in embarrassing fashion to North Dakota State.
  • Indiana gets three prime-time exposure opportunities, all of them at home. Perhaps that can improve the game-day environment in Bloomington, though Ohio State often has almost as many fans as the Hoosiers when it comes to Memorial Stadium.
  • Michigan's first-ever night game last season against Notre Dame was a smashing success, but the Wolverines will not go under the lights again this year in the Big House, as had been reported. But they will get their share of high-profile prime-time matchups, having to play Notre Dame and Nebraska on the road at night. The opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, is also expected to be a night kickoff. The schedule offers few breaks for Brady Hoke's team in 2012.
  • Overall, I think it's a very strong prime-time schedule. I count five weeks with at least one really appetizing matchup, with the potential for much more. I'm already planning on not sleeping the night of Oct. 27.

What are your thoughts on the prime-time schedule?

Indiana spring game recap

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
1:00
PM ET
We're reviewing all six spring games from the weekend in the Big Ten (Nebraska's was canceled). Let's move on to Indiana.

You can find coverage of the Hoosiers' game here, here and here.

Star of the game: Running back Isaiah Roundtree, who ran for two touchdowns, including a 63-yarder.

How it went down: The Cream squad beat the Crimson 19-16, but no official stats were kept and the scrimmage was moved from Memorial Stadium to indoors at Mellencamp Pavilion after one quarter, wreaking havoc on the media's ability to keep numbers.

Yet Roundtree, who transferred to Indiana from Morehead State, easily stood out. Head coach Kevin Wilson likes Roundtree but said the running back didn't have a great spring before Saturday, in part because of a sprained ankle. A healthy, engaged Roundtree could push last year's leading rusher, Stephen Houston, for the starting tailback spot.

Quarterback Tre Roberson ran for a touchdown, but neither team threw for a passing score. The defense played well around the goal line, forcing the offense to settle for repeated field goal tries.

"We’re playing better team defense,” Wilson told reporters. “We’re getting lined up cleaner, not missing assignments, getting more guys to the ball.”

Tight end Ted Bolser, who looked good in the spring practice I watched in Bloomington earlier this month, had six catches on the day. There's no reason why he can't become a big weapon for this team.

Big Ten lunchtime links

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:00
PM ET
Last day in Michigan. Informative trip, and friendly hosts in Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

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