Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
There used to be a time when the rushing touchdown leaderboard always came down to the elite running backs. These days, the running backs receive stiff competition from dual-threat quarterbacks. More specifically, in the Big Ten, Kain Colter, Taylor Martine and Braxton Miller. Will a signal-caller lead the Big Ten in rushing scores this fall? See Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a nice look at the alternate uniform craze. As he notes, the zany and garish togs aren’t about fortysomething fans; they are about the kids and recruiting.
Everyone at Iowa is ready to turn the page on 2012 and move forward. Why not? Last season saw the Hawkeyes go 4-8, the program’s worst mark since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. Iowa missed a bowl for the first time since 2007, ending a four-year bowl run.
The Big Ten is known for churning out 1,000-yard running backs. That’s still the case in 2013, with talents such as Ameer Abdullah, Carlos Hyde, Venric Mark and James White, among others, calling the Big Ten home. In recent seasons, however, quarterbacks have joined the mix, too. And that only makes predicting the rushing yards leader even more fun. See our guys’ picks for this season’s rushing yards leader in this post.
The NFL draft wasn’t that long ago. But, it’s always fun to look forward And that’s exactly what Audrey Snyder of PennLive.com is doing in a piece that examines the most intriguing Penn State NFL prospects. You never can have enough NFL-caliber players, right?
Often, the most popular player on campus is the backup quarterback. The guy holding the clipboard and wearing a baseball cap typically is perceived as being the answer to every struggling offense. On that note, here’s my ranking of the Big Ten backup quarterback situations.
If we had told you prior to last season that Matt McGloin, Taylor Martinez, Robert Marve, Braxton Miller and Cam Coffman would finish 1-5 in touchdown passes, you would have thought we were crazy. Point is, at this time of year, it’s difficult to predict a category like this.
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BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart compiled his thoughts to a host of recent Big Ten tweets that caught his attention. See all the tweets and Dienhart’s reaction in this post.
The struggles of the Michigan State offense in 2012 are well-documented. Aside from sticking the ball in the gut of running back Le’Veon Bell, nothing else worked with much consistency. In particular, the play of quarterback Andrew Maxwell came under scrutiny. That caused some to wonder if he’d keep his job. Well, repeat after MSU coach Mark Dantonio: There is no quarterback question. Nope. Dantonio says Maxwell is the guy—for now, at least.
There are some nice defensive backfields in the Big Ten. And none is better than Ohio State’s. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the top secondary in the nation, which is one of many reasons why Ohio State is a legit national title contender. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten defensive backfields.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
A year ago, few, if any, would have pegged Penn State’s Matt McGloin to lead the Big Ten in passing yards. He did, and did so in dominating fashion, finishing 395 yards ahead of Taylor Martinez despite playing two fewer games. Will another unexpected, under-the-radar guy lead the Big Ten in passing yards in 2013? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE
The last two seasons, no Big Ten defense has played as well as Michigan State’s. A big reason for that has been the play of the linebackers. And that unit should continue to excel and be the bellwether of the conference’s linebacking corps in 2013. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten linebacking units.
If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, so the saying goes. Well, the Big Ten is going to give it a shot on one of the biggest stages in the world.
Good news, Big Ten offensive players: Montee Ball is gone, meaning the conference’s scoring title is wide open. Ball, the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2012 Doak Walker Award Winner, ruled the category the last two seasons, scoring a combined 368 points. Now that Ball is in the NFL, who will assume the Big Ten scoring title? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
JC transfer Tanner McEvoy is primed to begin competing for the Wisconsin quarterback job. And, I can’t wait to check out the kid, who began his career at South Carolina. The dual-threat McEvoy is supposed to be a great fit for the Badgers offense.
The biggest difference between the SEC and Big Ten isn’t speed at the skill-positions on offense. Nope. It’s on defense—along the line, in particular. The Big Ten has some big fellas who can make plays and get up the field—just not the depth and breadth of the SEC. But, the situation is improving. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten defensive lines.
It’s that time of week when I reach into my mailbag. It looks like my unit rankings are generating quite the interest, based on the amount of cards and letters I have received. I always enjoy hearing from Big Ten fans! So, please stay in touch. Let’s get started.
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How about a little hoops talk for the last day of May? Well, here you go. The great (and I mean GREAT) Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News and BTN has his early, early Top 25 for 2013-14 out. And, it’s right here. Yes, the Big Ten is well-represented.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It all begins up front. Ask any coach. Without good blockers, skill talent is diminished—and offenses flounder. The Big Ten has some potentially strong blocking units, which has hopes high in several precincts. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten offensive lines, starting with two of the conference’s biggest powerhouse programs.
Well, the Paterno family is suing the NCAA. We all knew this day was coming, right? As if you needed more evidence, the lawsuit illustrates the deep divide and chasm in Happy Valley—so says Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.
This is interesting. From the JournalStar.com, here is the composite Big Ten 2012-13 standings, showing the average finish among each school’s men’s and women’s teams. A big year for Michigan, which is on a roll. The Wolverines took Big Ten titles in softball, men’s gymnastics, women’s cross country, women’s tennis and men’s swimming. Wait until the football team really gets it going.
Indiana continues to improve under Kevin Wilson, who debuted with a 1-11 mark in 2011 but improved to 4-8 last season. And, a big reason for that was the play of a prolific offense led by coordinator Seth Littrell. The Hoosiers had one of the Big Ten’s top offenses last season, ranking No. 2 in total offense (442.0 ypg); No. 1 in passing (311.2 ypg); No. 4 in scoring (30.8 ppg). But it wasn’t enough to carry the program to its first bowl since the 2007 season.
When you think of Nebraska, you don’t typically think of receivers. You think ground-pounding offenses that play physical football behind big lines and star running backs. Well, this year’s edition of the Cornhuskers has some very good receivers. In fact, it’s the best collection in the Big Ten. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten receiving units.
Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
The Big Ten lost its top two rushers in Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. And Nebraska standout Rex Burkhead also is gone. But most of the conference’s other top running backs are back. Here is how I rank the Big Ten running back units, and it’s my latest look at how the various football teams units stack up by position. Read the others right here. Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments below, email me about here, or track me down on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart).