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Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Illinois practice

Thirteen stops down, and one to go. The second-to-last stop on the annual BTN bus tour had the BTN crew watching Illinois practice Wednesday. Read BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart's fun takes inside.

Dienhart: Here's what I learned at Illinois football practice

The penultimate stop on the 2016 BTN bus tour took us to Champaign, Illinois, to watch Lovie Smith's first Illinois squad practice. Get BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart's takeaways from Wednesday's practice inside.

Dienhart: What I'll be watching for at Purdue practice

Darrell Hazell needs a big year. It’s no secret. He has yet to get this program off the ground in his first three seasons. The struggles can’t be sugarcoated or minimized, as Hazell has gone 6-30 overall and 2-22 in the Big Ten. Three of the victories have been vs. FCS foes; another was vs. a MAC team. Will 2016 be the year the script is flipped? Hazell will move forward with a veteran roster that has potential and a staff that has two new coordinators. Here is what I’ll be watching at Purdue practice. 1. Quarterback. The quarterback situation

Dienhart: What I will be looking for at Illinois practice

Hopes are high in Champaign, as Illinois takes the wraps off the Lovie Smith era. Will he be the coach to deliver a consistent winner to the Illini Nation? Smith arrives from the NFL with a big reputation, but he will be Illinois’ fifth coach since 1997 following Ron Turner, Ron Zook, Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit. The defensive line looks strong, and Dave Revsine believes running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is going to be one of the top breakthrough players in the conference this season. Here is what I’ll be looking for at Illinois practice. 1. How is offensive line

Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Wisconsin practice

The BTN Tour bus was in Wisconsin on Monday to check out the Badgers. Paul Chryst enters his second season as the Badgers' head coach and should have a team capable of competing for a Big Ten West title in 2016.

Dienhart: What I will be watching at Northwestern practice

Pat Fitzgerald has Northwestern on a roll coming off a 10-win season. And the Wildcats look poised to keep thriving. But some issues needs to be resolved. Will the pass game improve? Are there any pass rushers in the house? [ MORE: @BTNStatsGuys: 5 fun Northwestern facts ] Here is what I’ll be watching for at NU practice. 1. Defensive line. Two big holes at end with Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson gone. Lowry helped NU rank No. 6 in the Big Ten in rushing defense (126.2 ypg). He was a consensus second-team All-Big Ten selection after ranking second on

Dienhart's Big Ten Mailbag: Your latest football questions

Time to answer some mail! How good are the Minnesota linebackers? Will Michigan topple a rival this season? Is David Blough the answer to Purdue’s QB ills? I look at those questions and more. I have been impressed by Minnesota’s linebackers and think they will be among the best in the Big Ten. What do you think? – Bill White I like the Gopher linebackers when I watched the team scrimmage last Saturday. Jack Lynn has All-Big Ten potential, and Cody Poock is a tough player who excels vs. the run. Jonathan Celestin rounds out the unit. He’s a nice