Latest Tom Dienhart News

Meet the 2011 Big Ten Title Game Teams

Big Ten Championship Game Logo

Wisconsin at Michigan State - Football Highlights

P4RB. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean anything to you. But it means everything to Michigan State. Its meaning: Prepare For the Rose Bowl. And it has become a motivating acronym for the Spartans in their improbable quest for the Big Ten championship and trip to Pasadena.

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Illinois fires head coach Ron Zook

Illinois' Ron Zook

Ron Zook Statement

In the end, Ron Zook couldn’t make Illinois a consistent winner. So, the school announced today that it’s turning the page by firing him after seven seasons. The Zook era will be remembered for tremendous highs and lows, finishing with a 34-51 mark and two bowls. The zenith of his tenure was a trip to the Rose Bowl following the 2007 season, the program’s first junket to Pasadena since the 1983 season. That year, Illinois finished as Big Ten runners-up and knocked off an unbeaten Ohio State team on the road.

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Dienhart: Spartans, Badgers by the numbers

So, the stage is set. It will be Michigan State, representing the Legends Division, and Wisconsin, representing the Leaders Division, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game on Saturday in Indianapolis. The two teams met earlier this season, with the Spartans winning a last-second thriller on Oct. 22. To help preview the rematch, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart considers most important numbers for each team in this post.

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Dienhart: Michigan Wins "The Game"

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – None of the Michigan players were allowed to forget how many days had passes since the Wolverines last beat Ohio State. A countdown clock in the Michigan locker room screamed out the embarrassing fact: 2,926 days.

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Dienhart: Week 13 Snap Reactions

Following the action every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down what every game, every result means for the teams involved and the Big Ten itself. See Tom’s Week 13 Snap Reactions in this post.

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Dienhart: What to Watch for Saturday

Wisconsin's Russell Wilson

Penn State D vs. Wisconsin O

There are many things to keep your eyes on this weekend. Can Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson pass effectively vs. a tough Penn State defense? Is Ohio State’s defense capable of slowing down Michigan’s ground game? Can Nebraska slow down Iowa RB Marcus Coker? Those are just a few of the things to watch for on Saturday. I offer up 12 things to look for Saturday, the final weekend of the Big Ten football season.

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Dienhart: Big Ten Football Picks

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart rolls out his final week of regular season picks for all of the Big Ten football games.

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Dienhart: Previewing Saturday's Games

This is it, the final weekend of the season. Penn State will play at Wisconsin to decide which school will represent the Leaders Division vs. Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Michigan is looking to end Ohio State’s run of seven wins in a row in their iconic rivalry. Purdue is looking to win back the Old Oaken Bucket and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. Iowa and Nebraska kick off the start of what could become a great rivalry. And Illinois is looking to end a five-game losing streak before the postseason. Following below is my look at all six Big Ten games this Saturday.

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One-on-one: Ryan Van Bergen, Michigan

The turnaround has been remarkable. Last year, Michigan finished last in the Big Ten in passing defense (261.9 ypg) and scoring defense (35.2 ppg) and 10th in rushing defense (188.9 ypg). This year, the Wolverine defense is No. 5 (316.0) in the Big Ten overall, vs. the run (131.6) and vs. the pass (184.4). And one of the reasons for the turnaround is end Ryan Van Bergen.

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Dienhart: My Weekly Mailbag is Up

As we get closer to the Big Ten Football Championship, I’m seeing more and more mail on the end-of-season awards, bowl games and tiebreakers. I even got my first basketball question! I love to get your notes and encourage you to keep them coming. The more mail the better. Now let’s get to this week’s answers …

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Dienhart: Week 13 Best Suggestions

Wisconsin's Montee Ball

Big Ten Blast: Nov. 22nd Afternoon Update

The Michigan-Ohio State game is the annual exclamation mark on the Big Ten season. This year’s storyline: Can the Wolverines end the Buckeyes’ seven-season run of dominance? A Wolverine victory not only would ease the pain for Michigan fans, but it also will enhance the team’s resume in its bid to earn a BCS at-large bowl slot.

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Dienhart: Weekly Bowl Projections

The bowl picture is firming up, but the Big Ten may feel a squeeze if it gets 10 bowl eligible teams, as the conference has just eight bowl slots guaranteed. A win by Purdue at Indiana would give the league 10 bowl eligible squads, meaning the Big Ten would need other leagues to fail to have enough bowl eligible teams to accommodate all of their schools.

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Dienhart: Sneak Peek at Week 13 Games

Saturday is still five days away. But it isn’t too early to sneak a peek at the matchups. There’s a lot riding on the line for the last weekend of regular-season action. Penn State and Wisconsin will play to decide who will advance to play Michigan State in the Big Ten title game; Purdue is trying to become bowl eligible; and it’s Ohio State-Michigan week. The storyline: The Wolverines are trying to end seven years of misery and enhance their BCS at-large resume.

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Dienhart: Big Ten Trophy Tracker

It’s almost time to hand out the postseason hardware, as there is just one week left to impress. Many of the trophy races are still in flux, including the Player of the Year award. Who is my leader? Russell Wilson? Kirk Cousins? Montee Ball? Marcus Coker? Denard Robinson? Check out my latest Trophy Tracker.

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Dienhart: What I Learned in Week 12

An interesting Saturday saw champions crowned in each division and one team clinch a spot in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Northwestern also became bowl eligible for a school-record fifth season in a row. But what else did I learn this weekend?

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Dienhart: Week 12 Snap Reactions

Following the action every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down what every game, every result means for the teams involved and the Big Ten itself. See Tom’s Week 12 Snap Reactions in this post.

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Dienhart: What to watch for Saturday

With the potential for each division to be wrapped up this Saturday, there will be plenty to keep an eye on. Can Michigan State continue to run well? Is Penn State dialed it despite all of the off-field turmoil? Wisconsin must guard against a letdown when it plays at Illinois. Will the Badgers remain focused? Here’s what you should watch for each team this Saturday.

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Dienhart: Week 12 Predictions & Fan Votes

Saturday is on our doorstep with many key games and storylines looming. Can Purdue and Northwestern become bowl eligible? Could Michigan State (Legends) and Penn State (Leaders) wrap up their division? Here are my picks for each of the six games. Now you make yours, too.

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Dienhart: Week 12 Big Ten Previews

A full slate of games is on tap this weekend and the storylines abound. Michigan State (Legends) and Penn State (Leaders) could clinch shares of their respective divisions, but Wisconsin also controls its destiny in the Leaders and looks to keep pace with the Nittany Lions (full standings here). And Purdue and Northwestern could become bowl eligible. Following is a look at this Saturday’s menu of games, so be sure to track them from kickoff to the final whistle.

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One-on-One: Montee Ball, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Montee Ball

Montee Ball: One-on-One

By the time Montee Ball leaves Wisconsin, he may have a place alongside a growing list of great Badger running backs. Ball already has etched his name in the Big Ten record books. Last week, he scored three touchdowns to push his 2011 total to 27, a Big Ten single-season record. He has 23 rushing touchdowns and four via the air. Ball also has thrown a touchdown pass.

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Dienhart: Another round of BTN.com reader mail

Tom Dienhart

Big Ten Blast: Nov. 16th Afternoon Update

You have questions, I have answers. I dig into my mailbag to respond to some of your most vexing questions. Can Nebraska still make it to the Big Ten title game? Should the Big Ten have stripped Joe Paterno’s name from its championship game trophy, which it made official earlier this week? I answer those queries, and others, in this week’s mailbag.

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Dienhart: Big Ten's Best of Week 12

Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase

Big Ten Blast: Nov. 15th Morning Edition

Just two weeks remain in the regular season, but there still is a lot to play for in the Big Ten. Michigan State could wrap up the Legends Division this week with a win at home over Indiana and a loss by Nebraska at Michigan. Regardless, if the Spartans win out, they are in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 3.

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Dienhart: Week 12 Player Rankings

Wisconsin's Russell Wilson

The Next Level - Nov. 15, 2011

When it comes to consistent greatness, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson has set the pace all season. From the season opener vs. UNLV, when Wilson hit 10-of-13 passes for 255 and two scores, to last Saturday, when he connected on 16-of-17 passes for 177 and four touchdowns, Wilson has been a study in weekly greatness.

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