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?
IOWA CITY, Iowa – We watched a physical and intense Iowa practice in blazing heat Tuesday. Quick tempo, a lot accomplished.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan has just 10 scholarship seniors as Brady Hoke enters his fourth season in Ann Arbor. He hasn’t been able to replicate his 2011 debut, when he went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl. Needless to say, the Wolverines will be scrutinized this fall.
It’s no secret: This is a big year for Michigan and Brady Hoke, who last year saw a 5-0 start melt into a 7-6 finish. The offense floundered, so coordinator Al Borges was dismissed. Hoke tabbed Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to take over. What new wrinkles will we see? It won’t really matter unless the line improves.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – There is much anticipation for the start of James Franklin’s maiden voyage at Penn State. But he faces big depth hurdles due to NCAA sanctions. And attrition could prove hazardous to the program as it continues to deal with scholarship limits.
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James Franklin has created a buzz around the Penn State program with his electric personality and general bombast. The guy is a high-wire act of energy and enthusiasm. No doubt, the former Vanderbilt coach has “won” the offseason. But how will his first team do?