Big Ten morning links

Top o' the morning to ya:

1. It's here. Finally. Ohio State-Michigan State game week. We've been waiting for this one since, oh, about Jan. 4. ESPN's "College GameDay" will be in East Lansing. It's a playoff and East Division elimination showdown, as well as a rematch of last year's Big Ten championship game.

But the anticipation of this game's arrival points out something else: the utter lack of depth at the top of the Big Ten. This will be the first meeting of ranked teams within the conference since the Oct. 4 game between Nebraska and Michigan State. A month between marquee games is a long time, especially when other leagues are staging them on close to a weekly basis.

Wisconsin's ascent back into the Associated Press and USA Today coaches' polls (we'll have to wait until Tuesday night to find out if the Badgers are in the only Top 25 that matters any more), could guarantee that there's one more game on the schedule between ranked opponents: Nov. 15, when Nebraska visits Madison. But that's it, and it's not nearly enough. Because otherwise, we get stuck with games like Illinois-Ohio State in prime time.

The Buckeyes are looking forward to the rematch and the chance for revenge.

2. "Let the rivalry begin." Those were the words of Maryland coach Randy Edsall after the Terrapins beat Penn State 20-19 in Beaver Stadium. Nittany Lions fans may scoff, because Penn State was 35-1-1 against Maryland before Saturday. And the Lions are definitely in a temporary downturn right now because of NCAA sanctions.

But the Terps, whose only losses this year are to ranked teams (West Virginia, Ohio State, Wisconsin), still made a statement in an ugly game. Saturday was the first meeting between the two teams since 1993, so current high schoolers don't know anything about the history. And Maryland's pregame antics, which included a scuffle and refusing to shake hands with the Penn State captains, shouldn't be encouraged but will definitely be remembered. There will be some real animosity from the PSU side the next time these two schools play, and that's what a real rivalry is all about.

There's no doubt Maryland wanted this game more, David Jones writes.

3. Is this Nebraska team different than previous Bo Pelini-coached editions?

The Cornhuskers are 8-1, with their only loss coming by five points on the road to a top-10 club. That's impressive, and it sure looks like Pelini will reach at least nine wins for the seventh straight year. But are the Cornhuskers really ready to take the next step and become a championship club?

Nebraska beat Purdue 35-14 on Saturday in what Pelini called a "sloppy" performance. On one hand, when you can play sloppy and without your offensive superstar and still win by three touchdowns, you must be pretty talented. On the other hand, Nebraska can look pretty average offensively without Ameer Abdullah, and it desperately needs him down the stretch. We should hope he's as healthy as possible for that Nov. 15 game at Wisconsin, and not only because he's a great player and the Abdullah-Melvin Gordon duel should be a thriller. We need a fully-powered Huskers squad that day to find out if this program has turned a corner.

Nebraska can still drive you a little nutty, Tom Shatel writes.

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