|Michigan LT Taylor Lewan will be matched up against Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, who was recently named the best defensive end in the country. (US Presswire)|
News and notes from around the Big Ten:
- Even though offensive linemen tend to stay out of the spotlight, Michigan LT Taylor Lewan's performance in the Outback Bowl will likely be more scrutinized than any other game he's played this season. Lewan, the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year, will be matched up against sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, who was recently named the top defensive end in the country. It's the type of matchup that scouts drool over as Lewan, a junior, is projected as a high first-round pick should he decide to leave while Clowney could be the top pick of the 2014 draft. “He's a phenomenal player,” Lewan said to the Detroit Free Press. “But I don't want to change the way I play the game to go against somebody. … It's not going to be one-on-one the whole time. It's the University of Michigan against South Carolina.”
- After such an un-extraordinary regular season for most Big Ten schools, teams across the conference are struggling to sell their allotment of bowl tickets to fans and boosters alike. The Gophers, for example, had to pledge to buy 12,000 tickets to the Meineke Car Care Bowl but have reportedly only sold around 2,000, according to the Star Tribune. Michigan State is around that number as well for its game against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Meanwhile, Nebraska had to buy more than 12,000 tickets for its trip to the Capital One Bowl, but Husker fans have evidently soured from the rout against Wisconsin in the conference title game and have bought just 4,000. The Big Ten pools all the revenue generated from the bigger bowls (in this case Wisconsin's trip to the Rose Bowl) to help offset the costs of teams who can't sell their tickets.
- Former Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett made headlines on Thursday when an excerpt from the upcoming book “4th and goal: One Man's Quest to Recapture his Dream,” was released online. The book actually recounts Clarett's former coach in the UFL, but the former Buckeye running back was quoted as saying, “I was living the NFL life in college. I got paid more in college than I do now playing in the UFL,” he said. Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wonders how much stock to put into Clarett's comments given his past transgressions. “He loves attention,” Livinston wrote. “And he knows the best way to get it is by being controversial.”
- Now that former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has departed for Arkansas, the other coaches, in particular offensive coordinator Matt Canada, have to decide whether they want to remain in Madison. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Canada has an offer from Dave Doeren, who was recently hired as the head coach at North Carolina State. Canada worked with Doeren as the offensive coordinator/ quarterbacks coach at Northern Illinois during the 2011 season before departing for Wisconsin this past season.
- Purdue RB Akeem Shavers was named the MVP of last season's Little Caesar's Bowl after rushing for 149 yards over Western Michigan, but Shavers said none of that matters when preparing for the Boilermakers' next opponent, Oklahoma State, in the Heart of Texas Bowl. “They're expecting the same thing,” he said to the Journal and Courier. “I'm just trying to stay focused on this game and not worry about last year.” Over Purdue's final three games, all wins, Shavers averaged 96 rushing yards per game and scored five touchdowns. The Boilermakers' recent success is due, in large part, because of consistency along the offensive line, which wasn't there throughout the first half of the season.
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.