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Latest Tom Dienhart News

Dec 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) looks on during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Conference football championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Mailbag: C.J. Beathard, OSU defense, Purdue hoops & more

It’s that time of the week when I reach into my Big Ten Mailbag. And with basketball season heating up, hoops emails have started to hit my inbox. Can anyone catch Michigan State? Is Purdue OK? There are football questions, too. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] You say that Iowa QB C.J. Beathard did not “wow.” What? He did pretty darn well. He was second in completion percentage. And he

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

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

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. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of

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

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

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. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls |

Big Ten links: Purdue football complex, Michigan's new DC & more

Good news at Purdue, where the Board of Trustees approved funds for a much-needed football performance complex. The state-of-the-art football performance complex will significantly enhance the football student-athlete experience. In addition to the first-class amenities, having all of them located in one facility will result in more efficient use of the student-athletes’ time. Currently, football-related facilities are housed in multiple buildings. *** Never thought I’d look to the Minnesota punter for holiday inspiration. But Peter Mortell sets quite a standard. Last December, all Minnesota players received a $452 Best Buy gift card for playing Missouri in the Citrus Bowl. Mortell

Tom Dienhart shares his Big Ten bowl confidence picks

How about some bowl picks based on confidence in my selections? Sure! You know the drill. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Here are my Big Ten bowl picks based on confidence, from most confident in the pick (10) to least (1). 10. Ohio State over Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl 9. USC over Wisconsin, Holiday Bowl 8. Michigan over Florida, Citrus Bowl 7. Georgia over Penn State, TaxSlayer Bowl 6. Minnesota

Nov 21, 2015; Iowa City, IA, USA; A Iowa Hawkeyes fan holds up a sign showing the Hawks record after beating the Purdue Boilermakers at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa beat Purdue 40-20. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Rose Bowl Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes return to Pasadena on a mission

Iowa is making its first Rose Bowl appearance since the 1990 season. Stanford is back in Pasadena for the third time in four years. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] The Cardinal doesn’t often see teams like Iowa, a big, tough physical squad that likes to punch foes in the mouth with the ground game. In fact, the one time it faced such a team, Stanford lost 16-6 at Northwestern in

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

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

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. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Still, despite a 5-7 record, the Huskers found

Big Ten links: Assistant hires, hoops updates & much more

According to reports, it looks like Michigan has a new defensive coordinator in sage Don Brown. Mlive.com notes that Brown was running the defense at Boston College. His style? He ran a 4-3 scheme in Chestnut Hill last season, and has been known historically as a blitz-heavy coach. The 60-year-old Brown led a Boston College defense that ranked No. 1 nationally with 254.3 yards per game allowed in 2015. BC’s rush defense allowed 83.2 yards per game (No. 2) and its pass defense was ranked No. 8 (171.2). The Eagles gave up 15.3 points per game last season, which ranked

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

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

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. [ MORE: 2015-16 bowl schedule | Best of the Bowls | Ranking bowls, 1-40 | Big Ten bowl bags | Big Ten bowl factoids | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Now, Fitz has another crack at the Volunteers—this time as one of the Big Ten’s

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

Fiesta Bowl Preview: Ohio State gears up for Notre Dame

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. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Regardless, this is a good destination for the Scarlet and Gray, and it will be a good measuring stick playing a very talented ND squad.