Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
We saw this coming. It was no shock that the NCAA passed legislation that grants autonomy to the “Power Five” conferences. In fact, it probably had to happen for the current collegiate model not to be comprised.
Maryland’s debut season could be surprisingly successful, as veteran talent runs deep for Randy Edsall as he enters his fourth season in College Park. In fact, this could be the third-best team in the East. Edsall guided Maryland to its first bowl since 2010 last season. Another bowl figures to be in the offing for a program that has 18 starters back from a 7-6 team.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Motivation shouldn’t be an issue for Ohio State as camp unfolds. The Buckeyes are riding a two-game losing skid, losing the Big Ten title game to Michigan State and the Orange Bowl to Clemson, this after a 24-0 start under Urban Meyer.
Here is how it works, America: You have questions … you email them to me … I answer them. Well, I answer the good ones! Here’s another batch from you. Thanks for reading. And keep writing and pressing the “send” button. Oh, and don’t forget to bookmark my diary for updates from every stop on the BTN football tour.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Beautiful day for practice in Bloomington for an Indiana program that enters a critical Year Four under Kevin Wilson. This was practice No. 2 for Indiana, which worked out in shorts and helmets during a spirited three-hour session.
Will this be the year Ohio State wins its first Big Ten title since 2009? Perhaps. Urban Meyer has enjoyed some big success his first two seasons in Columbus, ripping off 24 wins in a row to start his tenure before ending 2013 with consecutive defeats to Ohio State and Clemson. No doubt, Ohio State will be motivated.
The BTN 2014 camp tour begins on Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind., where we will check out Kevin Wilson’s fourth Indiana squad in the first of 14 stops. Hopes are high in southern Indiana, as Wilson looks to punch the Hoosiers’ first postseason ticket since 2007. Indiana came close to a bowl last season, finishing 5-7 with narrow home losses to Navy and Minnesota proving to be costly.
The sparkly BTN tour bus chugs away from our glistening headquarters on 600 West Chicago Ave., on Monday, as a near-three-week journey that will span from Lincoln, Neb., to New Brunswick, N.J., begins. I can’t wait to see driver Kevin, drink Red Bull, shop for mesh hats at remote truck stops and see if Gerry DiNardo is still the last human on the planet who carries a handkerchief.
OSU strength coach Mickey Marotti is famous for his fanatical intensity when it comes to weight lifting and conditioning. Want proof? Buckeyes LB Joshua Perry posted some before and after pictures from over a two-year period after working under the screaming Marotti. This is stunning. Where do I sign up?
There’s Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford and Minnesota’s David Cobb. Do you want me to go on? OK.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The Big Ten East is a beast. Or at least that’s the perception.
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Nebraska has been looking for a consistently strong defense the last three years. Well, the Cornhuskers finally may have one. In fact, Nebraska may have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten this fall. The unit has teased in recent years while also suffering some big meltdowns.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Kirk Ferentz isn’t one to get lost in hyperbole. Grand statements? Bold proclamations? They won’t come from the dean of Big Ten coaches who is entering his 16th season in Iowa City. So, don’t expect him to tout and embrace any talk of his team winning the Big Ten West this fall.
The hype surrounding the Ohio State defensive line has been growing. And with good reason. Even Urban Meyer is heaping praise on the Buckeyes’ front, comparing it to his star-studded group in 2006 at Florida that was led by Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey that whipped Ohio State in the BCS title game after the 2006 season.
It’s mean. It’s nasty. It’s the Michigan State defense. And it has become the signature unit for the signature program in the Big Ten.
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Talk, talk, talk. There was a whole lotta gabbing going on at Big Ten media days in the historic and iconic Hilton on Michigan Avenue on Monday. Here are what I feel were the 10 best quotes of a long, wild day. Watch your coach’s full interview here.
It’s strange to think of this, but Ohio State brings a two-game losing streak into the season. It’s true. Look it up. The Buckeyes ended last season with losses to Michigan State and then to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. That followed a 24-0 start to the Urban Meyer regime. Now, for his next act, Meyer is looking to lead Ohio State to its first Big Ten title since … 2009.
It didn’t take long. In fact, it took just the second question posed to Nebraska coach Bo Pelini before he was asked about the cat he brandished at the spring game. “My cat is enjoying a nap upstairs,” said Pelini, who has softened his image. “I’m not just an intense, competitive animal running around all the time.”
What will Michigan State do for an encore? Last season was one for the ages, as the Spartans went 13-1, won the Big Ten and captured the Rose Bowl. The challenge is to stay hungry. Will MSU still have that chip on the shoulder? That spark? That desire to win big now that the Spartans have scaled the summit?
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald clarified comments he recently made about Nebraska fans. “It’s a pretty boring state, so they’re really excited to see Chicago,” Fitzgerald told the Chicago Tribune last week. “I talked to the state senator about putting state troopers out on I-80 (to block them.)”
No sugarcoating it: This is a big season for Michigan and Brady Hoke, who has seen his win total drop each of his three seasons in Ann Arbor. Last year ended in a heap, as the Wolverines saw a 5-0 start melt into a 7-5 finish. The offense was an abomination, as Michigan struggled to get a push up front and run. As a consequence, coordinator Al Borges lost his job and Doug Nussmeier was hired from Alabama. Will it help? Stay tuned.
Wisconsin has been a bellwether Big Ten program, going to Rose Bowls from 2011-13 and just missing a BCS game last year before landing in the Capital One Bowl. Can the beat go on for Gary Andersen in Year Two? “Lots of questions on offense,” said Andersen. “Wide receiver is the big question mark. We need some men to step up.”
Looking for a bounce-back team? Look no further than Northwestern in what should be an intriguing and wide-open Big Ten West race. The Wildcats began 2013 glowing, coming off five bowls in a row with dreams of a division title dancing in their head. But after a 4-0 start, NU slumped to a 5-7 mark. Close losses were killer. There was a three-point defeat to Minnesota; seven to Iowa; three to Nebraska; and a triple-overtime loss to Michigan.
There is only one way for the Purdue offense to go after last season: up. That’s good news for coordinator John Shoop. He isn’t dwelling on the past. He’s trying to learn from it and move forward. Negativity won’t help. Positivity will. And Shoop emotes good thoughts.