Big Ten links: Scroll through Monday's best headlines

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Scroll through Monday's best headlines

I have to check out “Men of Sparta,” a flick that tells the story of the national champion 1966 Michigan State squad that is too often forgotten.

Mlive.com says the film is directed by Bob Apisa, an All-American fullback on the 1965 and 1966 teams. The project, he said, had been discussed for years between members of those teams, but was always put off for a later date. But said as members of those teams began to pass away — including George Webster and Bubba Smith — Apisa said he decided the story of some of the best teams in Michigan State history needed to be retold to a new generation.

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If Cincinnati joined the Big 12, what would it mean to the Big Ten? David Jones of Pennlive.com takes a look. For one thing, it could have a big impact on recruiting for Ohio State and other Big Ten schools.

It sounds like we could learn who the Big 12 will add soon. If the league grows by four schools, I think it should add Cincinnati, BYU, Houston and Central Florida. If you are Jonesing for more Big 12 expansion chatter, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com is all over it.

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Rutgers needs a lot of things in Chris Ash’s debut season. One is a No. 1 wideout with Leonte Carroo gone. Is Andre Patton ready to be that guy? I think so.

“Ever since Coach (Chris) Ash came in, most of the older guys had to take a leadership role. That includes me,” Patton said. “With me going to my senior year, with me having a lot of experience on the field, he’s kind of expected me to be a leader.”

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Identifying the top two QBs in the Big Ten is easy, right? It’s J.T. Barrett and C.J. Beathard. But then, who? Big Bill Landis of Cleveland.com takes a stab at ranking the Big Ten signal-callers.

Tommy Armstrong No. 3; Mitch Leidner No. 4. After that, it’s a grab bag, as QB play doesn’t look overly strong in the Big Ten in 2016. This certainly isn’t the mid-1980s, when the Big Ten had Jim Harbaugh, Jim Everett, Chuck Long, Mike Tomczak and Jack Trudeau, among others.

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Mlive.com has some details that have emerged in the new Michigan-Notre Dame series set for 2018-2019.

If Michigan or Notre Dame should decide to back out of one or both games — not exactly an unheard of event, at this point — the school that cancels will have to pay the other $150,000 if it’s done two years out, $500,000 if done between one-to-two years out, and $1 million if it’s done one year out.

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If Illinois wants any chance at success in 2016, it must develop a running game after ranking last in the Big Ten in rushing in 2015. That means emerging Ke’Shawn Vaughn must star at a RB position where depth is dicey.

Vaughn led the team in carries (157), rushing yards (723) and touchdowns (6). And while that’s not quite “bell cow” production, Lovie Smith sees something special in his lead tailback.

“Even though he’s young, he can do it all,” Smith told Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review. “I went back and watched his high school video. He was a great player then and he’s a great player now. He can run between the tackles and he can make you miss in the open field. He can catch and he has size. We’re going to ask him to block a little.”

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Speaking of players who need to step up, NU QB Clayton Thorson fits in that category. He did some nice things in his debut last fall, but he must become a better passer to give the Wildcats more balance.

“He seems a lot more comfortable back there,” cornerback Matt Harris said at media days. “His leadership has definitely taken over. He’s taken over the offense, and Clayton—being the guy that he is—he’s a competitor, so he’s doing whatever he can to be in the best position that he can be. Just understanding defenses, he’s definitely grown as an individual.”

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So, who will be Indiana’s starting QB? I think it will be JC Richard Lagow.

Zach Osterman of IndyStar.com notes that Lagow looks and plays the position more like Nate Sudfeld (not an endorsement, just a comparison for comparison’s sake). He’s a pocket passer with a big arm that can stretch the field when IU needs him to.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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