Summer daze has Big Ten looking out of it

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Wisconsin only needs to be better than Illinois, Purdue and Indiana to earn a second straight trip to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. The Badgers will try to get healthy Saturday against Utah State (2-0). No gimme considering the Aggies are coming off a victory against Utah.

Michigan and Nebraska were expected to challenge No. 10 Michigan State for the Legends title. That could still happen, but both traditional powers are looking defenseless.

Brady Hoke’s Wolverines have allowed 522 yards rushing in a humbling loss to Alabama and a 31-25 win against Air Force.

“… I think we got a long way to go,” Hoke said Monday of his rebuilt defensive line.

Right below Michigan in the Big Ten’s defensive rankings sits Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have allowed 529 yards rushing, and the 653 total yards they gave up in a 36-30 loss to UCLA was the second-most Nebraska has ever allowed in a game.

“I’ve been sick to my stomach since that game,” coach Bo Pelini said.

If the Spartans lose to No. 20 Notre Dame on Saturday, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany might be feeling a bit queasy, too.

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HEISMAN WATCH

Heisman Trophy contenders come and go in September. Remember Tate Forcier’s first few games at Michigan?

UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin is a player worth keeping an eye on. The senior leads the nation in rushing with 431 yards after ripping through Nebraska for 217. He is averaging 10.5 yards per carry for the No. 22 Bruins.

Franklin has been a good player on a mediocre team the past couple of seasons. He ran for 976 yards and 5.9 per carry last season, as the Bruins unraveled in coach Rick Neuheisel’s last season. In 2010, he ran for 1,127 yards, 5.3 per carry and eight touchdowns.

With redshirt freshman Brett Hundley providing new coach Jim Mora the best looking quarterback UCLA has had since Cade McNown, defenses won’t be able to stack up against Franklin and the Bruins could win enough games to keep the tailback in the Heisman conversation all season.

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EDSALL BOWL

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