Originally posted on The B1g Time  |  Last updated 10/11/12

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions leaves the field following the 2010 Capital One Bowl against the LSU Tigers at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Penn State won 19-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It is nearly impossible not to respect what Bill O'Brien has done in a short period of time in his first season as Penn State's head coach. Clearly not the popular choice when he was hired, O'Brien has done just about everything right since being introduced as the permanent successor to the late Joe Paterno. From saying the right things to fans and media, opening the doors for more coverage of the program, and introducing a new offensive style, the future looks bright for the football program despite many dark dies still to come. This week's sentencing of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky closed the chapter on a tragic saga that ripped apart a community, their heart and security. The Sandusky scandal has been an emotional one on so many levels, but with the sentencing now official, the focus will shift to an appeal process that will draw a fraction of the media attention as the actual trial. We also shift focus to the trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, but like the inevitable appeal form Sandusky, this will draw just a fraction of the attention that has been placed on Bellefonte, Pennsylvania over the last 11 months. Through it all, O'Brien said the right things. He was understanding of the situation and never backed down from the difficult tasks that resulted because of it. NCAA sanctions? He handled it. Coaching staffs poaching players? It is what it is. Losing a couple marquee players to other programs? O'Brien quickly put his faith in some young players. An 0-2 start to the season? "There is no quit in that locker room," O'Brien said following Penn State's wild fourth quarter rally against previously unbeaten Northwestern last week in State College. There is no quit in the locker room because the senior leadership of guys like Mike Mauti and Michael Zordich and Matt McGloin. But they have no quit because O'Brien is seemingly a natural leader, and Penn State could not have asked for a better option at this point. B1G WIN OF THE WEEK Ohio State sent a loud message to the rest of the Big Ten by blasting Nebraska. Penn State had a memorable rally in the fourth quarter against Northwestern. But the big win of the week, to me, came from Michigan. The Wolverines went to Purdue for what many suspected would be a close game, perhaps the best in the conference last week. Purdue's defense was thought to have what it takes to slow down Michigan enough to give their pesky offense a chance to do something, but it was all Michigan in a 28-10 first half and a 44-13 final. The Wolverines held Purdue to just 213 yards of offense and forced four Boilermaker turnovers. Purdue had scored 105 points in their two previous games but the Boilermakers now have been held to 30 points to Michigan and Notre Dame. Maybe Purdue has more work to do before we give them too much of a chance against decent defenses. B1G LOSS OF THE WEEK Purdue and Northwestern each suffered bad losses in different ways, but there is no topping the stink job Nebraska had at Ohio State. Nebraska had an opportunity to set the tone in the Big Ten and instead gave up 63 points and turned the football over four times. Giving up 28 second-quarter points put the Cornhuskers in a hole after jumping out to a 17-7 lead on the Buckeyes. When the Huskers started to sniff around in the game in the third quarter, the Buckeyes blew it wide open. All of those good feelings about Taylor Martinez were put to rest with three interceptions as well. BIG TEN BOWL PICTURE The Big Ten has eight bowl tie-ins for this season, but the question is whether or not the Big Ten will have eight bowl-eligible teams. Heading in to the weekend just one Big Ten team can become bowl eligible (Northwestern) and we know that Ohio State and Penn State are disqualified from consideration. Five teams (Michigan State, Nebraska, Minnesota) are two wins shy of bowl eligibility, and three others (Purdue, Michigan and Iowa) need three wins. That puts nine teams within reach of postseason play, but how many of those schools will be able to pick up enough wins as conference play sees teams going head-to-head? BEST BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAM? So who exactly will be the face of the Big Ten this upcoming bowl season? As I stated in a roundtable discussion with Athlon Sports this week, I'm hitching a ride on the Michigan bandwagon. You look at the two losses suffered by Michigan this year and they certainly are not good (Alabama trounced them and Notre Dame shut them down), but if you are looking for the best bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten, it may just be the Wolverines when all is said and done. The defense, I want to believe, is still better than the Rodriguez years, and the offense has what it takes to score against anyone in the conference with the exception of, perhaps, Michigan State. GAME OF THE WEEK As much as I want to believe that the Northwestern vs. Minnesota game will be interesting, I find it difficult to see how the Wildcats lose this one despite being on the road for a second straight week. Like many of you probably will, I will turn my eye to the Wisconsin - Purdue match-up at noon eastern on Big Ten Network. As it turns out, this one could be the deciding game in who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis at the end of the season. I am still waiting to see if Wisconsin has enough in them to make a run and restore some sot of pride in the program after somehow getting to 4-2 at this point. Meanwhile Purdue was hit hard last week against Michigan, and I fear it exposed them as a pretender in the greater scheme of things in the conference. I think Purdue gets things together this week to put forth a more solid all-around performance.   Kevin McGuire is the managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. His Big Ten column will appear here weekly, every Wednesday. Follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Delany's Dozen on Twitter and Facebook.
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