Latest Tom Dienhart News

Dienhart: Volunteers cruise by Wildcats in Outback Bowl

Jan 1, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Justin Jackson (21) runs with the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter in the 2016 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Watch our Northwestern-Tennessee highlight

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern was looking to put an exclamation point on a standout 10-win season by dumping an SEC team. It didn’t happen for what has been one of the nation’s most surprising teams that opened 2015 with a win vs. Pac-12 champ Stanford.

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Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Alabama blanks No. 3 Michigan State

So many storylines dominated the Cotton Bowl matchup. Michigan State was making its first playoff appearance coming off a Big Ten title. Alabama was here last year, getting upset as the No. 1 seed by Ohio State, which went on to win the championship. Protégé (Mark Dantonio) was trying to beat mentor (Nick Saban). On it went.

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Scouting report: Coaches detail Alabama's offense & defense

BTN

BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart talked to some assistant football coaches who took on Alabama this season to get an insider’s scouting report on the Crimson Tide offense and defense ahead of Michigan State’s game in the Cotton Bowl. Here’s what those coaches told our senior writer.

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Five keys to a Michigan State victory over Alabama tonight

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

When Michigan State takes on Alabama tonight, we’ll all be watching closely. BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart suggests we keep an eye out for these five keys the Spartans need to unlock the Crimson Tide and advance to the title game. You know this already, but none of them will come easily.

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Holiday Bowl: Defense shines as Badgers hold off No. 25 USC

Dec 30, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers tight end Austin Traylor (46) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the USC Trojans during the third quarter in the 2015 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.

Watch the Badgers' Holiday Bowl Highlights

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart is watching every Big Ten bowl game, and on Wednesday night he rolled out his assessment of Wisconsin’s impressive 23-21 win over No. 25 USC in the Holiday Bowl. See his grades and his overall take in this post.

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Foster Farms Bowl: Nebraska rallies, holds off UCLA, 37-29

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Watch our Nebraska-UCLA highlight

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska was one of three teams in the postseason with a 5-7 record. UCLA also arrived in the Foster Farm’s Bowl slumping, losing two of its last three after looking like a contender in the Pac-12 South.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Wisconsin's 2015 season

Oct 10, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; Wisconsin Badgers place kicker Rafael Gaglianone (10) celebrates the winning field goal against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Nebraska 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Watch our Wisconsin-Nebraska highlight

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Usually, a nine-win season is cause for celebration. But Wisconsin was tabbed by most to win the Big Ten West. Instead, the Badgers finished second in Paul Chryst’s debut as head coach.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Rutgers' 2015 season

Nov 28, 2015; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Leonte Carroo (4) makes a one handed catch during the first half of their game against the Maryland Terrapins at High Points Solutions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

How did Leonte Carroo catch this ball?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 campaign was filled with tumult for Rutgers. In August, it was revealed that Kyle Flood had improper contact with a professor concerning the course work of a player. He subsequently was suspended for three games after an investigation. Flood also came under fire after several players ran afoul of the law. In all, six players were dismissed from the team after a string of arrests. Even star WR Leontee Carroo missed time after an arrest.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Purdue's 2015 season

Oct 31, 2015; West Lafayette, IN, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers quarterback David Blough (11) throws against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

David Blough runs 56 yards for the TD vs. Nebraska

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Saturdays in the fall in West Lafayette are long, as Darrell Hazell can’t seem to flip a losing script. He now stands 6-30 in three seasons. And three of those victories have been vs. FCS programs. How many Big Ten wins does Hazell have? Two, against 22 losses. And the defeats are often lopsided.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Penn State's 2015 season

Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin stands on the sideline during the first quarter of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin squashed those Miami rumors

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State remains a work in progress, but James Franklin continues to make progress in his second season. He has the program in a bowl for a second season in a row. But personnel shortcomings are apparent as the effects of probation are still being felt from a depth standpoint.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Ohio State's 2015 season

Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs the ball in for a touchdown as Michigan Wolverines safety Jarrod Wilson (22) attempts to block in the third quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer previews 2016 Fiesta Bowl

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

As the defending national champion, Ohio State entered 2015 with a big target on its back. Adding to the pressure was a unanimous preseason No. 1 ranking. The Buckeyes were the hunted.

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Cotton Bowl preview: Spartans, Tide play for title game berth

Dec 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio receive the trophy from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney after the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Michigan State won 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Dantonio discusses playoff berth

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

This is an interesting playoff matchup pitting former Michigan State coach Nick Saban vs. Mark Dantonio, a one-time Saban aide in East Lansing. When these teams line up, it will be like looking in a mirror. Both have tough, physical offenses built on punching defenses in the nose with the running game. And the defenses for each team are anchored by two of the best lines in the nation.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Northwestern's 2015 season

Sep 12, 2015; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Warren Long (13) runs off the field with teammates after a touch down during the first half of the game against the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Wildcats drop Illinois at Solider Field

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

When 2015 dawned, questions loomed over Northwestern. The Wildcats went 10-3 in 2012, winning their first bowl since the 1948 season. But consecutive 5-7 seasons followed. Could Pat Fitzgerald get a program seemingly rocked by a highly-publicized effort to unionize back on track? On the field, had Northwestern gone soft? All is well now in the wake of a 10-win season and a New Year’s Day bowl trip as one of the most surprising teams not just in the Big Ten—but in the nation.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Nebraska's 2015 season

Nov 7, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium. The Cornhuskers won 39-38. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Relive Huskers' upset of Michigan State

The excitement that surrounded the arrival of Mike Riley from Oregon State evaporated quickly in the wake of myriad close losses that caused stomachs to turn on an almost weekly basis across the state. Each Saturday seemingly brought another round of misery, as iffy decisions, a lack of execution and personnel shortcomings conspired to sully Riley’s debut.

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Outback Bowl preview: Fitz, NU look for revenge vs. Tennessee

Nov 21, 2015; Madison, WI, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald stands prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.   Northwestern won 13-7.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Fitzgerald talks Outback Bowl berth

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Hard to believe 19 years have passed since Peyton Manning—yes, THAT Peyton Manning—led Tennessee to a 48-28 vs. Northwestern in a New Year’s Day Bowl in Florida. Pat Fitzgerald couldn’t stop Manning on that day in the Citrus Bowl as a BMOC linebacker for the Wildcats. No shame in that.

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Fiesta Bowl Preview: Ohio State gears up for Notre Dame

Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Chase Farris (57) congratulates Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) on touchdown in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer talks about Notre Dame

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Two schools that came oh-so-close to making the playoffs square off in what should be one of the best bowls of the season. In fact, the Buckeyes may have a better case to be in the Rose Bowl than Iowa.

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Dienhart: Here's a look back at Minnesota's 2015 season

Sep 26, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill kneels down after the game against the Ohio Bobcats at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Kill talks retirement

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons—including the program’s first New Year’s Day bowl since the 1961 season in 2014—Minnesota fell … hard. The Golden Gophers were thought to be a legit contender in the Big Ten West. Instead, the team sunk to near the bottom of the standings with a losing record and made a bowl only because of a good APR and the fact there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill a bloated postseason system that needs 80 teams.

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