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Breaking down the Big Ten non-con sked

Ameer Abdullah

Ameer Abdullah 37-Yard TD Run

The formula for building a non-conference schedule is pretty standard: play one challenging game vs. a team from a Power 5 league (ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten) and three games vs. foes from “lesser” conferences. And ideally, three of the four games are at home. But, as you can see, not all non-conference games are created equally.

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What's your Big Ten team's toughest non-con game?

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Michigan vs. Notre Dame: The Rivalry Continues

We’ve reached the right side of 100 when it comes to the countdown to the college football season. Three months from now, there will be football. Get excited! Until then, we’re previewing the season. It’s time for Tom Dienhart to single out your team’s toughest non-conference game.

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Dienhart: Purdue's 2014 schedule analysis

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Danny Anthrop Scores for Black

As far as debuts are concerned, Darrell Hazell endured a rough one at Purdue. His maiden voyage in West Lafayette included myriad blowouts along the way to a 1-11 season that saw Purdue go winless in the Big Ten. And the lone victory came vs. FCS Indiana State. And even that was a close call. Add it all up, and it may have been the worst season in school history.

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Scroll through Wednesday's 10 Big Ten headlines

When discussing schedules, seven home games often are mentioned as a magical benchmark for schools. Well, the Big Ten is not set on it, apparently, according to this piece by Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. The coming move to nine Big Ten games in 2016 is one factor causing schools to rethink scheduling. The other is lucrative neutral-site games.

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Mailbag: Could Spartans run table, make playoff?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Delany Talks Gavitt Tipoff Games

Lots going on in recent weeks, with the NFL draft, Big Ten moving its hoop tourney to Washington in 2017 and the announcement of the Gavitt Tip-off Games with the Big East. My mail box is getting full. Let’s answer some questions.

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Dienhart: Penn State's 2014 schedule analysis

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Gerry DiNardo Conversation with James Franklin

There is much anticipation around the unveiling of the James Franklin era. Franklin brings endless energy along with an impressive resume to State College, Pa., making Vanderbilt into a winner prior to his arrival.

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Check out Tuesday's 10 Big Ten headlines

The start of the football season is less than 100 days away, if you can believe it. And there are few more anticipated non-conference games than Michigan State’s visit to Oregon. The Spartans are using the summer as prep time to get ready for that high-flying Duck offense led by Heisman contending quarterback Marcus Mariota. MSU will need the extra prep work. Everyone does.

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Dienhart: Ohio State's 2014 schedule analysis

Urban Meyer

Coach Urban Meyer Goals and Objectives

Ohio State came oh-so-close to greatness last season in Year Two under Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes won their first 12 games after going 12-0 in 2012. But Ohio State lost the Big Ten championship game to Michigan State, which ruined its national title hopes.

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Dienhart: NU's 2014 schedule analysis

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Kyle Prater One-Handed Catch

Last year began amid much hope for Northwestern, which opened 4-0 with No. 4 Ohio State coming to Evanston for a prime-time national TV. Alas, Northwestern lost, 40-30, and never recovered.

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Dienhart: Nebraska's 2014 schedule analysis

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Nebraska

Bo Pelini and His Cat Lead Huskers Out of the Tunnel

Hopes are high in Lincoln for the program’s first conference championship since 1999. The defense looks like it could be the strongest part of Bo Pelini’s seventh Nebraska team. The front seven looks especially stout. The offense has some great building blocks, paced by a nice collection of running backs and receivers.

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Dienhart: Minnesota's 2014 schedule analysis

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Indiana

Jerry Kill Post-Spring Game Interview

Jerry Kill has Minnesota on the rise. His win total has improved in each of his three seasons in the Twin Cities, going from three, to six to eight victories with bowls in each of the last two seasons. The best looks like it is yet to come.

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Dienhart: Michigan State's 2014 schedule analysis

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Dantonio Talks with #BTNLive

Everything came up roses, literally and figuratively, for Michigan State last season. The Spartans won their first Big Ten title since taking a share of the 2010 crown. And Michigan State went to its first Rose Bowl since the 1987 season, beating Stanford to finish 13-1 overall en route to ranking No. 3 in the polls.

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