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4:00 PMMaryland at Michigan St.Watch
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Latest Tom Dienhart News

Big Ten links: NFL draft entrants, Iowa basketball & much more

It was not a big shock to see Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg turn pro (or DT Austin Johnson, for that matter). But it did raise eyebrows when Hackenberg thanked myriad people as he left—but he omitted mentioning James Franklin. Interesting. I wish Hackenberg would have handled it better. Here is a look back at Hackenberg’s largely unfulfilling career at Penn State. Don’t you wonder how he would look now if Bill O’Brien had never left? *** Nice story on Ohio State’s Darron Lee, who arrived in Columbus having been a high school QB. Now, two years later, Lee was

Dec 29, 2015; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Mike Gesell (10) celebrates after the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won 83-70. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Tom’s Take: Honors, stock watch, top performers, notes & quotes

The lid has been taken off Big Ten play, and five schools are off to 2-0 starts. Two of them aren’t a shock, as Maryland and Indiana are out of the gates quickly. But it’s a surprise to see Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa also 2-0 in Big Ten action.

Dec 30, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) hugs wide receiver Robert Wheelwright (15) after beating the USC Trojans 23-21during the fourth quarter in the 2015 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: See my best of 2015-16 Big Ten bowl season

The Big Ten college football bowl season is officially in the books. Yes, the Big Ten came up short in its bid to defend the national title won last year by Ohio State. But the conference had some memorable moments during its 5-5 postseason.

Jan 2, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Georgia defeated Penn State 24-17 to win the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

TaxSlayer Bowl: Georgia thwarts Penn State comeback bid

Playing vs. an SEC team is always a good measuring stick for a team. Even an SEC team that canned its head coach, as Mark Richt was fired and is now coaching Miami (FL). [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | BOX | PBP | AP RECAP ] These iconic programs last met in the Sugar Bowl after the 1982 season, when Penn State dumped Heisman winner Hershel Walker and the Bulldogs to win the national championship. The stakes weren’t nearly that high today in a clash that often resembled a taffy pull between teams that played good defense—and spotty offense. The

Jan 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) drops back to pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2016 Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rose Bowl: McCaffrey leads Stanford to win over Iowa

This time last year, Iowa was getting scortched by Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl to cap a disappointing 7-6 season that set in motion an offseason of tumult. Kirk Ferentz examined his program and made alterations, including switching practices from afternoon to morning. But most prescient, Ferentz tabbed C.J. Beathard the QB over Jake Rudock shortly after the loss to the Vols. Rudock transferred to Michigan, Beathard became a star and the rest is history. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] The Hawkeyes went on to post a season for the ages, going 12-0

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

Dienhart: Volunteers cruise by Wildcats in Outback Bowl

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. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] The Wildcats lacked the big-play ability on offense to keep pace vs. the athletic Volunteers, one of the SEC’s fast-rising programs under Butch Jones that closed the year with six wins in a row in what was the largest margin of victory in Outback Bowl history.

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. [ MORE: BOWL SCHEDULE | GALLERY | AP RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY ] In the end, it was all Alabama, which cruised to a 38-0 victory at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. BEST OF THE COTTON BOWL Best play: There were none

Scouting report: Coaches detail Alabama's offense & defense

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.

Five keys to a Michigan State victory over Alabama tonight

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.