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Latest Tom Dienhart News

What is the must-win game for all 14 Big Ten teams?

Every schedule has one—a must-win game. Look. You’ll find one. It’s a game that you feel your school MUST WIN if it wants to have a successful season. It can’t slip up. Victory must be accomplished. [ MORE: View Tom Dienhart’s 2016 Ultimate Big Ten Road Trip ] Well, I perused each 2016 Big Ten schedule. And here is my “must win” game for each school. Illinois: vs. Purdue. If the Fighting Illini want any shot at a bowl game, they must win their Big Ten opener on Oct. 8. Big Ten victories will be difficult to come by. And

Big Ten links: Scroll through Wednesday best headlines

With Bri’onte Dunn getting the boot from Ohio State, Mike Weber has a clear path to No. 1 running back status. Weber figured to win the job at some point this season. But now, with Dunn gone, Weber is the clear No. 1 back from the start of camp. He is supposed to be a stud. We shall see as works behind a line with three new starters. The No. 2 back could be true freshman Antonio Williams. Dontre Wilson and Curtis Samuel also could get carries. And J.T. Barrett may run more, too. *** Don’t be shocked if Penn

Dienhart: Ranking the Big Ten's top 10 linebackers

Linebackers have to be a special breed of athlete, able to be strong enough to play the run and quick enough to drop in coverage and play in space. The Big Ten is loaded with some promising linebackers who fill the bill. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 offensive linemen | Top 10 defensive linemen | Full unit rankings ] Here is my ranking of the league’s top 10 linebackers. 1. Anthony Walker, Northwestern, Jr. He announced his arrival as a superstar last year when he led the

Big Ten links: Scroll through Tuesday's best headlines

Let’s kick off this party with a nice Q&A in the Minneapolis Star Tribune with Gopher AD Mark Coyle. Coyle has a lot on his plate as he looks to stabilize an athletic department that needs leadership … and fund raising. *** It was great for Michigan to add Notre Dame back to its sked in 2018 and 2019. But the return of the rivalry created a scheduling quandary. The Wolverines will have road trips to both Michigan State and Ohio State in 2018, along with a junket to Notre Dame. Whoa!!! The following year, the Wolverines will play all

View Tom Dienhart’s 2016 Ultimate Big Ten Football Road Trip

If time and money weren’t issues, which Big Ten games would you want to attend this season? Let me help you out. I have built the ultimate Big Ten itinerary for 2016, identifying what I feel will be the biggest game in each of the 13 weeks of the upcoming season. You’re welcome. [ MORE: Relive Tom Dienhart’s 2015 ultimate roadtrip | And 2014 ] Now, pack your Zubaz, tank top, flip flops, bucket hat and Red Bull … and let’s go! Week 1, Sept. 3: Wisconsin vs. LSU (Green Bay, Wis.). No Big Ten team has a more daunting

Dienhart: Ranking the Big Ten's top 10 defensive linemen

Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you the most difficult position to recruit is defensive line. It’s a challenge to find players who are big AND quick. That’s why good d-linemen are so cherished. And, Michigan State has a good one in Malik McDowell, who leads my list of top 10 Big Ten defensive linemen. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Top 10 offensive linemen | Full unit rankings ] Here’s my complete top 10 list. 1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State, Jr. He thinks he’s the best d-lineman in the

Big Ten links: Scroll through Monday's best headlines

Thoughts and prayers to former Michigan RB coach Fred Jackson, whose nephew was a shooting victim in Baton Rouge. Montrell Jackson, 32, a 10-year-veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department, was one of three police officers killed in an ambush shooting just a mile from police headquarters. *** There are some interesting QB battles in the Big Ten. One such competition is at Penn State. Most program watchers feel Trace McSorley, a redshirt sophomore from Virginia who replaced an injured Christian Hackenberg in January’s TaxSlayer Bowl, will win the job. But James Franklin says it’s an open competition. Could Tommy

Dienhart: Ranking the Big Ten's top 10 offensive linemen

Football is won in the trenches. Without a good line, an offense has little chance for success—no matter how many five-star running backs are on the roster. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Top 10 running backs | Full unit rankings ] And no one in the Big Ten is better at getting a push than Ohio State’s Pat Elflein. He heads my list of the top 10 offensive linemen in the Big Ten. 1. Pat Elflein, G, Ohio State, Sr. He eschewed a chance to turn pro to be the anchor of a rebuilt

Dienhart: Big Ten West defensive backfield unit rankings

No Big Ten team will have a better DB than Iowa corner Desmond King, who won the Thorpe Award. But instead of turning pro coming off that season of glory, King opted to return to Iowa City. And that’s a big reason why the Hawkeyes top my ranking of Big Ten West defensive backfields. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West defensive lines | West linebackers | West predictions ] See my full ranking below. 1. Iowa. This could be the top secondary in the Big Ten. Senior corner Desmond King eschewed the NFL

Dienhart: Big Ten East defensive backs unit rankings

There is a lot to like about Michigan in 2016, as Jim Harbaugh begins his second season in Ann Arbor in pursuit of the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004. Among the many areas of strength is the secondary, led by Jourdan Lewis—one of the best corners in America. [ MORE: East offensive lines | East receiving corps | East backfields | East defensive lines | East linebackers | East predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten East defensive backfields. 1. Michigan. Senior Jourdan Lewis lacks size but is one of the nation’s best corners and