Latest Tom Dienhart News

Debate It: 2013 Big Ten scoring leader?

Jeff Budzien

Braxton Miller 1 Yard Touchdown

Good news, Big Ten offensive players: Montee Ball is gone, meaning the conference’s scoring title is wide open. Ball, the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2012 Doak Walker Award Winner, ruled the category the last two seasons, scoring a combined 368 points. Now that Ball is in the NFL, who will assume the Big Ten scoring title? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.

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Dienhart: Here's how I rank Big Ten defensive lines

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Wildcats Force Sack-Fumble to Seal Win

The biggest difference between the SEC and Big Ten isn’t speed at the skill-positions on offense. Nope. It’s on defense—along the line, in particular. The Big Ten has some big fellas who can make plays and get up the field—just not the depth and breadth of the SEC. But, the situation is improving. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten defensive lines.

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Mailbag: Will Meyer complete OSU contract?

Urban Meyer

Step Into My Office: Urban Meyer - Best Athletic Achievement

It’s that time of week when I reach into my mailbag. It looks like my unit rankings are generating quite the interest, based on the amount of cards and letters I have received. I always enjoy hearing from Big Ten fans! So, please stay in touch. Let’s get started.

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Dienhart: Let's rank Big Ten offensive lines

Taylor Lewan

Taylor Lewan Staying at Michigan

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It all begins up front. Ask any coach. Without good blockers, skill talent is diminished—and offenses flounder. The Big Ten has some potentially strong blocking units, which has hopes high in several precincts. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten offensive lines, starting with two of the conference’s biggest powerhouse programs.

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Which school had best 2012-13 B1G athletic year?

This is interesting. From the JournalStar.com, here is the composite Big Ten 2012-13 standings, showing the average finish among each school’s men’s and women’s teams. A big year for Michigan, which is on a roll. The Wolverines took Big Ten titles in softball, men’s gymnastics, women’s cross country, women’s tennis and men’s swimming. Wait until the football team really gets it going.

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Indiana's Seth Littrell: 'We have a long way to go'

Stephen Houston

Seth Littrell Conversation

Indiana continues to improve under Kevin Wilson, who debuted with a 1-11 mark in 2011 but improved to 4-8 last season. And, a big reason for that was the play of a prolific offense led by coordinator Seth Littrell. The Hoosiers had one of the Big Ten’s top offenses last season, ranking No. 2 in total offense (442.0 ypg); No. 1 in passing (311.2 ypg); No. 4 in scoring (30.8 ppg). But it wasn’t enough to carry the program to its first bowl since the 2007 season.

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Dienhart: Huskers pace Big Ten receiving corps

Kenny Bell

Kenny Bell 30 Yard Touchdown

When you think of Nebraska, you don’t typically think of receivers. You think ground-pounding offenses that play physical football behind big lines and star running backs. Well, this year’s edition of the Cornhuskers has some very good receivers. In fact, it’s the best collection in the Big Ten. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten receiving units.

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Dienhart: Which Big Ten team tops our RB ratings?

November 24, 2012; University Park, PA, USA;Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) catches a pass on the way to a 57 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

James White Interview

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

The Big Ten lost its top two rushers in Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. And Nebraska standout Rex Burkhead also is gone. But most of the conference’s other top running backs are back. Here is how I rank the Big Ten running back units, and it’s my latest look at how the various football teams units stack up by position. Read the others right here. Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments below, email me about here, or track me down on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart).

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Web links: Hazell's making the right moves

Purdue Spring Game

Darrell Hazell-Gerry DiNardo Conversation

So far, so good for new Purdue coach Darrell Hazell. He’s still 0-0. Optimism bubbles. The honeymoon continues. Purdue A.D. Morgan Burke seems very pleased with his hire. In fact, he thinks Hazell has answered every key question up to this point. I’m not gonna argue with that. Hazell has impressed. He also has built a good staff and energized the players. This is my first link in today’s daily Big Ten headlines.

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Reader mail: Big Ten questions pouring in

Nov 24, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke prior to the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Buckeyes Nail Gardner, Cause Fumble

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

It’s time to reach into my weekly mailbag. Lots of interesting cards and letters this week. Brady Hoke? Penn State schedule predictions? Indiana football on the rise? Ohio State and the chip on its shoulder?

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Badgers have slate built for success

Chris Borland

Wisconsin Spring Game Highlights

First-year Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen has a schedule that’s built for success. The Badgers should start no worse than 3-1—maybe even 4-0—as they head to Ohio State on Sept. 28. After visiting the Horseshoe, the Badgers don’t have a lot of heavy lifting.

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Q&A: Shoop excited to call plays for Hazell, Purdue

November 24, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Rob Henry (15) runs past Indiana Hoosiers cornerback Brian Williams (7) during the game at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE

Akeem Hunt 63 Yard Touchdown

Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE

John Shoop long has admired Purdue’s offensive tradition from afar. Now, he gets a chance to add to that tradition by pushing the buttons on the Boilermakers’ attack under first-year coach Darrell Hazell.

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Web links: Craziest B1G athletes & so long Little Caesars

The struggles of the Michigan State offense last season are well-documented. Points were difficult to come by for an attack that lost five games by a total of 13 points. All the while, quarterback play came under scrutiny. Michigan State quarterbacks coach Brad Salem says the competition between Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook is “pretty even.”

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Schedule Analysis: Boilers face tough slate

Purdue's Akeem Hunt

Purdue Spring Game Highlights

First-year coach Darrell Hazell has his work cut out for him, playing arguably the toughest schedule in the Big Ten. There is no more challenging non-conference schedule in the conference, with a trip to Big East co-champ Cincinnati and home games vs. Notre Dame (BCS title game) and Northern Illinois (Orange Bowl). Getting one Big Ten road victory may be a difficult proposition, too. Bottom line: A 1-6 start isn’t out of the question.

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Dienhart: $6,100 bid for Hoffman card goes unpaid

Jack Hoffman

Seven-Year-Old Jack Hoffman Runs For Touchdown

The biggest spring football star in the Big Ten may have been a 7-year-old. Jack Hoffman is a cancer patient who stole the hearts of America and the show at the Nebraska spring game, taking a handoff and racing 69 yards for a touchdown. Highlights of the run went viral, as little Jack’s story swept the nation.

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Schedule analysis: Can Penn State do it again?

Dominic Salomone

Bill O'Brien Loud Speaker Plays

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Bill O’Brien’s debut was a success, as Penn State finished 8-4 after opening 0-2 during a season wrapped in tumult. But the Nittany Lions may be in for a long season, as the effects of NCAA probation begin to sink in. Penn State will operate with just 67 scholarships, so any attrition could be devastating for a team that’s still ineligible for the postseason or to win the league championship.

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Web Links: Ferentz, Gardner's guru & Lewan's return

Iowa is coming off a 4-8 season, the program’s worst since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. That has some fans antsy. Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register sat down with the Hawkeyes boss to discuss a variety of topics for a program that has seen its win total fall from 11 to 8 to 7 to 4 each of the last four seasons.

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