Latest Tom Dienhart News

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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Schedule sets up nicely for touted Buckeyes

Stacey Blount

Ohio State Spring Game Highlights

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Some think Ohio State is the best team not just in the Big Ten but perhaps the best team in the nation as it comes off a 12-0 debut under Urban Meyer. A wealth of talent is one reason for optimism, as the Buckeyes are NCAA probation-free and eligible to win the Big Ten and BCS crowns. A favorable schedule is another reason for optimism. Ohio State should be favored in every game but one in 2013: the season finale at Michigan on Nov. 30.

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Veteran Wildcats face challenging 2013 lineup

Venric Mark

Northwestern Spring Game Highlights

Most every key component from last year’s team that went 10-3 and won the school’s first bowl since the Stone Age — OK, the 1948 season —  is back. Good, because this schedule is a doozy. In fact, starting 2-0 won’t be a given, with a trip to Cal and visit from Syracuse, which lost a crazy 42-41 game at home to the Wildcats last season, on tap to open the season. Big Ten schools switched cross-division foes this season, and no school had a less advantageous swap then NU.

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Q&A: Limegrover refining Gophers' attack

CARLOS GONZALEZ - StarTribune.com

Minnesota Spring Game Highlights

It’s a slow, steady process, but the Minnesota offense is coming on as Jerry Kill continues to put his mark on the program entering his third year in the Twin Cities. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover’s attack ranked 10th in the Big Ten in 2012 (321.4 ypg). And the offense was ninth in scoring (22.1 ppg).

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Dienhart: Let's break down 2014 football slate

Newcomer Rutgers will take part in the first Big Ten game of 2014 when it plays host to Penn State on Sept. 13. That’s one of several interesting matchups in the schedule, which was announced today. The 2014 schedule will be the first season with Maryland and Rutgers in the conference. The 2014 season also will see the Big Ten split into new East and West Divisions.

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Today's web links: On night football, rivalries & more

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The cry for November night games seems to be gaining steam. Oh, they are coming. Could the sacrosanct Michigan-Ohio State ever be played at night? Buckeye athletic director Gene Smith is against it. Me, too. But, heck, I’m against all night games. “It’ll be noon,” Smith told reporters at the recent Big Ten meetings. “I have to be open to 3:30, but noon is my favorite time for that one.”

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Web links: Big Ten shaking up bowl picture

At the recent Big Ten athletic director meetings, the possible future bowl schedule began to come into focus as the league’s current bowl deals end after the 2013 season. It’s all about geography, Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press points out. The Big Ten wants to spread its brand coast-to-coast. It has been reported that the Big Ten will share tie-ins with the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl with the ACC during a six-year agreement, playing SEC opponents in both games.

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Schedule analysis: Huskers eye Indy return

Taylor Martinez

Tom Dienhart Nebraska Spring Game Impressions

Things set up well for Nebraska, which opens with five games at home and doesn’t leave Lincoln until Oct. 12 (at Purdue). It wouldn’t be a shock if Nebraska is 8-0 when it travels to Michigan on Nov. 9 in the only game the Huskers may not be favored in all season. Bottom line: This schedule greases the skids for Nebraska’s return trip to the Big Ten title game, as the Huskers pursue the program’s first conference title since 1999.

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