Jabrill Peppers ends Michigan career, declares for NFL Draft

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USA TODAY

Jabrill Peppers ends Michigan career, declares for NFL Draft

It didn't come as much of a surprise, but Jabrill Peppers made his intentions known Tuesday.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Peppers announced that he will forgo his senior season at Michigan and enter the NFL Draft.

"It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," Peppers told SI's Pete Thamel. "I'm choosing between cementing my legacy as a college player and starting my pro legacy. It's something you dream of when you were a kid. I was torn between the two."

Peppers was recognized as one of the best players in college football this past season, a fifth-place finisher in voting for the Heisman Trophy who made huge impacts in every facet of the game. His collegiate career ended with a whimper, though, as an injury kept him out of Michigan's loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Still, Peppers is expected to be a first-round pick in this year's draft.

A do-it-all star at the college level, Peppers figures to be a defensive player in the NFL, and he shone on that side of the ball with the Wolverines, this year earning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Linebacker of the Year awards. He led the Michigan defense with 16 tackles for loss and ranked third on the team with 72 tackles. He also had four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Peppers was also the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year, racking up 570 punt- and kick-return yards and scoring a touchdown via a punt return. He also had 27 rushing attempts on offense, rushing for 167 yards with three touchdowns.

All in all, Peppers played 933 snaps at a jaw-dropping 15 different positions.

Wisconsin loses for third time in four games as Ohio State stages upset

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AP

Wisconsin loses for third time in four games as Ohio State stages upset

Two weeks ago, we were all shocked to see Wisconsin boxed out of the NCAA selection committee's top 16 seeds.

Well, it seems like maybe they knew something we didn't.

The Badgers, who not long ago looked like the Big Ten's best hope when it came to making a long tourney run and competing for a national championship, continued their recent slide Thursday night with a 83-73 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who entered with the second-worst record in the conference.

The loss was Wisconsin's third in its last four games, a noteworthy skid for a team that lost just once between Thanksgiving and Feb. 11.

The woes of back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Michigan seemed done away with when the Badgers knocked off a ranked group of Maryland Terrapins by double digits last weekend. But Ohio State dominated Wisconsin from start to finish Thursday, the Badgers' defense taking an uncharacteristic beating at the hands of what's been an inconsistent Buckeyes team this season.

Thad Matta's group had little trouble doing everything it wanted. Ohio State shot 50 percent from the field on the night, including a stellar 10-for-16 mark from 3-point range and a terrific 23-for-27 effort from the free-throw line. Four Buckeyes scored in double figures, including C.J. Jackson with 18 points and JaQuan Lyle, who had 17 on the game and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.

While the Badgers surpassed the 70-point threshold they couldn't reach in those defeats against Northwestern and Michigan, the offense left a lot to be desired Thursday, as well. Wisconsin got 27 points from Bronson Koenig but a mere four from Ethan Happ, who only had six rebounds, and just seven from Nigel Hayes. The Badgers shot a respectable enough 43.9 percent from the field on the game but an ugly 37.5 percent in the first half, a period in which they mustered just 31 points. The Buckeyes at one point had a lead as big as 20. An 8-0 Badger run to close the game prevented the scoreboard from reflecting the blowout this one was for most of the second half.

A win would've kept Wisconsin tied with Purdue atop the Big Ten standings, but instead the Boilermakers reside there by themselves with the Badgers relegated to second place, just a game ahead of the aforementioned Terps.

What happens next for Wisconsin remains a bit of a mystery. There are undoubtedly offensive issues, and those are nothing new considering we were discussing them back when the Badgers were still on their winning streak, when they picked up concerning overtime wins against Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska. Wisconsin needs to be sharp on the defensive end to win, and obviously it has been more often than not this season. After all, Greg Gard's team still has 22 wins overall and 11 victories in league play.

But three losses in four games is a reason to think a lengthy tournament run might not be possible. And how long might this stumble last? Three remaining regular-season games feature opponents much stronger than Ohio State: Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota, which is red hot currently on a six-game winning streak.

Big Ten Talk Podcast: Northwestern stumbling, Illinois trending up and the last week and a half of the Big Ten regular season

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USA TODAY

Big Ten Talk Podcast: Northwestern stumbling, Illinois trending up and the last week and a half of the Big Ten regular season

In the latest episode of the Big Ten Talk Podcast, CSN's Vinnie Duber and Matt Maniscalco discuss Illinois' win over Northwestern, the improved play of the Illini and the offensive struggles of the Wildcats.

Plus, a look at the hottest and coldest teams in the Big Ten — looking at you, Minnesota and Indiana — and a round of fact or fiction featuring coaches on the hot seat, NCAA tournament hopes and who will win the Big Ten regular-season title.

Take a listen below.