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Big Ten lunchtime links: Michigan-MSU rivalry heats up

10/21/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

While I listen to Big Ten coaches yak about their teams, you should check out what's happening around the league. 

  • Michigan has beaten in-state rival Michigan State six consecutive times, but the struggling Wolverines will be the more desperate team Saturday, Drew Sharp writes in the Detroit Free Press. 

  • Who deserves to be called Linebacker U? Both Penn State and Ohio State stake their claim to the nickname, Cory Giger writes in The Altoona Mirror. 

"They talk about these linebackers from USC and Ohio State,'' former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington said Monday. ''Let's be realistic here. Ohio State got whupped by USC, which shows how inferior they are. Oregon State whupped on USC and showed how inferior USC's linebackers are. And you know what? Penn State whupped on Oregon State, and they're going to whup on Ohio State."

  • Wisconsin's losing streak has brought down sales of cardinal windbreakers in Madison -- and coach Bret Bielema's approval rating, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Someone told Bielema about comments complaining about the zipped-up windbreaker he wears for every game.

"I thought back to my freshman [first] year [at UW] when I was told by the merchandising people [that] they couldn't keep enough windbreakers in stock," Bielema said. "It goes to show, when you're winning, everybody agrees with what you're doing. When you're losing, everybody's got all the answers, because the right answer isn't out there. So, I appreciate that and thank God we have fans that care."

  • Coach Mark Dantonio's post-Michigan rant and Brandon Graham's claim that Michigan will never lose to Michigan State fuels the rivalry, which resumes Saturday in Ann Arbor, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal. 

  • Northwestern middle linebacker Nate Williams used to collect money from his dad for each hustle play. The Wildcats now need Williams to make dividends as a starter after the season-ending loss of Malcolm Arrington, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune.   

  • Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen has handled his demotion with class this fall, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.