Latest Tom Dienhart News

Players on the rise? Here's Tom Dienhart's list!

With the 2014 BTN bus tour in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back at my team-by-team player on the rise. These are the players who have a bright future. They might not be a star or consistent regular this fall, but you should learn their names and get to like their games.

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Dienhart's best of the 2014 BTN bus tour

The BTN bus traveled almost 4,000 miles, beginning in Bloomington, Ind., on Aug. 4 and ending in Champaign, Ill., on Aug. 20. We have kicked the tires on all 14 teams one last time—watching practice, talking to players, talking to coaches–before the season kicks off next week. Deep breath!

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Illinois

Illinois is looking to continue progress in Year Three under Tim Beckman. Seven starters are back on offense; nine on defense. The offense remains ahead of the defense. In fact, this could become an upper-level Big Ten attack with freshly-minted starting quarterback Wes Lunt at the controls.

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Illinois names Wes Lunt starting quarterback

Illinois coach Tim Beckman announced Wednesday on BTN Live that Wes Lunt will be the starting quarterback for the Fighting Illini.

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Illinois camp preview: Is the defense better?

Tim Beckman made improvement from Year One to Year Two, going from 2-10 (0-8) to 4-8 (1-7). Can he build on that?

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – We watched a physical and intense Iowa practice in blazing heat Tuesday. Quick tempo, a lot accomplished.

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What Braxton Miller injury means for Ohio State, B1G

News that senior Braxton Miller is out for the season is a shock and has caused massive speculation on many fronts as to how Ohio State’s season and the Big Ten race will be impacted.

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Iowa camp preview: Is QB Jake Rudock developing?

This looks like a potentially special Iowa team, a squad good enough to win the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes are coming off a strong 8-5 season with six starters back on offense and five on defense in what will be Kirk Ferentz’s 16th season on the job.

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Reports: Braxton Miller injures shoulder, set for MRI

The report by Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch Monday night that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his right shoulder is bad news for the Buckeyes and the Big Ten. Miller had offseason surgery on the same shoulder, and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports followed up the Columbus Dispatch report with news that Miller would have an MRI on Tuesday.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – Could this be the year Nebraska finally wins the program’s first league championship since 1999? It may happen if the offense develops balance and the defense delivers on big expectations.

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Mailbag: When will B1G have national respect?

The BTN bus tour is almost over, but keep those cards and letters coming. This is a great time of year. Optimism is high on each campus and the possibilities seem limitless at some places. Let’s answer some of your letters.

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Dienhart's Diary: Next best thing to being on the bus

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is trying something new this year on our annual football tour. At each of the 14 practices across Big Ten country, Dienhart will pen a quick diary post. From Indiana, the first stop, to Illinois, the 14th and final stop, our expert will provide plenty of fun behind-the-scenes updates.

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Nebraska camp preview: Is Armstrong ready?

Expectations are trending up for Nebraska after it closed last season with a Gator Bowl victory over Georgia. This is a club that welcomes back five starters on offense and seven on defense. There is plenty of skill on offense. And the defense could be Bo Pelini’s best since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011. Could this team win the new Big Ten West? Perhaps.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – There is some mojo to Minnesota as it enters its fourth season under the steady hand of Jerry Kill. This team opened 2013 with an 8-2 mark, running off four Big Ten victories in a row for the first time since 1973.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Wisconsin

The Badgers have the ingredients for a strong team, but there will be much unproven talent coming back from a 9-4 team.

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Minnesota camp preview: Is Leidner the answer?

Minnesota is a program on the rise as it enters its fourth season under Jerry Kill. The Golden Gophers have seven starters back on offense and six on defense. At one point last year, Minnesota was 8-2, ripping off four Big Ten wins in a row before losing its last three games. Kill has seen his win total go from three to six to eight in each of this three seasons in Dinkytown. Can he improve it for a fourth season in succession?

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Mailbag: Top under-the-radar B1G assistants?

I have time on the bus to wade through your cards and letters. Keep them coming. I enjoy hearing from you. Now, onto the correspondence. Have a question for me? Use the submission box at the bottom of the post. Also, don’t forget to follow all of our football tour coverage.

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Wisconsin camp preview: How does front 7 look?

The debut of the Gary Andersen regime was a successful one. Wisconsin started 9-2 and had some hopes of a BCS bowl before losing to Penn State in the season finale at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers also lost to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl. For Act Two, challenges loom for a program that is the pick of many to win the Big Ten West.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from NU practice

KENOSHA, Wis. – It was a great day for practice, almost chilly. It was brief, as players worked in helmets and shoulder pads. It also was notable for who didn’t partake: WR Miles Shuler; DE Ifeadi Odenigbo; DE Sean McEvilly; OL Shane Merz; OL Ian Park; OT Jack Konopka; WR Tony Jones; RB Warren Long; S Traveon Henry; WR Cameron Dickerson were the most prominent.

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NU camp preview: Who replaces Mark, Jones?

Northwestern was primed for a big 2013. It didn’t happen, as the Wildcats missed the postseason for the first time since 2007, ending a five-year run. Pat Fitzgerald’s crew welcomes back lots of veteran talent from a team that started 4-0 but finished 5-7, enduring a seven-game losing skid before ending the season with a victory over rival Illinois.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Purdue

RENSSELAER, Ind. – It’s all about improving for Purdue, which is coming off a rough 1-11 season that saw the team struggle in just about every phase of the game.

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Football Tour: Dienhart's best from Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State is now the hunted. How will it respond? It should be interesting. The Spartans have scaled the top of Big Ten mountain, capping a conference championship season with a Rose Bowl triumph en route to going 13-1 last season.

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Purdue camp preview: Is Etling the man at QB?

After a 1-11 debut (0-8 Big Ten), things can only go up for Darrell Hazell and Purdue, right? That’s the hope in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have myriad questions to answer, with the biggest being along both fronts.

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Michigan State camp preview: Is this group still hungry?

Michigan State is the reigning Big Ten king. Can the Spartans stay on top? This program is rolling as Mark Dantonio enters his eighth year in East Lansing. The last four years, MSU has gone 42-12 overall and 25-7 in the Big Ten. What’s next? A national title? Maybe.

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Mailbag: Our expert answers your questions

Time for me to wade through those cards and letters you are firing off to me. I appreciate your thoughts. Keep reading and emailing, because I’m answering your questions throughout our football tour across the Big Ten.

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