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Dienhart: Big Ten East defensive backs unit rankings

There is a lot to like about Michigan in 2016, as Jim Harbaugh begins his second season in Ann Arbor in pursuit of the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004. Among the many areas of strength is the secondary, led by Jourdan Lewis—one of the best corners in America. [ MORE: East offensive lines | East receiving corps | East backfields | East defensive lines | East linebackers | East predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten East defensive backfields. 1. Michigan. Senior Jourdan Lewis lacks size but is one of the nation’s best corners and

Dienhart: Ranking the Big Ten's top 10 running backs

Yes, Ohio State’s all-world talent Ezekiel Elliott is gone, in addition to Illinois’ Josh Ferguson, Iowa’s Jordan Canzeri and Maryland’s Brandon Ross. But the Big Ten is loaded with plenty of options/depth at running back entering the 2016 season. The impressive group is led by Penn State wunderkind Saquon Barkley. [ MORE: Top 7 quarterbacks | Top 10 wide receivers | Full unit rankings ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten’s top 10 running backs for 2016. 1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State, So. The future seems limitless for a guy who set the Penn State freshman rushing record

Big Ten links: Michigan's heralded d-line, basketball updates & more

The hype surrounding the Michigan defensive line continues to grow. And end Taco Charlton hopes to be a big part of the front as he aims for an impactful senior send-off. Will this be the year he finally puts it all together? He looks like a pro—but doesn’t always play like one. “I’m going to set my expectations higher than anyone else can set them,” Charlton said last month in Ann Arbor. “As a d-line we do the same thing collectively, together. We hold ourselves to that point. We feel like we can be the best. But it doesn’t mean

Dienhart: Big Ten West linebacker unit rankings

Talented, quick, deep … those are just three words that aptly describe the linebacking corps at Wisconsin, which tops my ranking of Big Ten West linebackers. But the LBs will have to adjust to a new coordinator. What impact will that have? [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West defensive lines | West predictions ] Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten West linebacker units. 1. Wisconsin. Senior Vince Biegel and sophomore T.J. Edwards are the bellwethers of this strong unit. Biegel tallied 14 TFLs in 2015 and is the leader of the defense

Big Ten links: Scroll through Tuesday's best headlines

It’s good to be Mike Conley. The former Ohio State Buckeye is expected to ink the richest NBA deal in history. I never envisioned Conley being this good of pro. He’s still going, while OSU teammate Greg Oden has been done for a while. According to multiple reports, Conley is expected to sign a five-year deal worth $153 million to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies. Crazy money in the NBA right now. *** Speaking of former Buckeyes, can D’Angelo Russell become Ohio State’s next NBA superstar? The other Ohio State players in the NBA: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner and Kosta

Dienhart: Big Ten East linebacker unit rankings

Linebackers need to be a special breed of crazy and talent, willing to take on big offensive linemen and fullbacks with power while also having the speed to chase down running backs. And no school in the East has a better collection of LBs than Michigan State. [ MORE: East OL | East receiving corps | East backfields | East DL | East predictions ] Here’s my ranking of Big Ten East linebacking units. 1. Michigan State. Lots of talent in East Lansing. Senior Riley Bullough will be one of the Big Ten’s best. He is Mr. Spartan, a true

Big Ten Mailbag: Chances Iowa runs table for second straight season?

Before lighting my sparklers and grilling hot dogs, I thought I’d go through my Big Ten Mailbag. [ MORE: East OL | West OL | East pass-catchers | West pass-catchers | East backfields | West backfields | East DL | West DL | Top 7 QBs | Top 10 WRs ] I tackle questions about the Nebraska quarterbacks, Iowa’s prospects for regular-season perfection and Wisconsin’s chances to slow LSU RB/beast Leonard Fournette in the season opener, among other subjects. Let’s go! What is the likelihood that Iowa runs the table in the regular season again? The Hawkeyes get Wisconsin, Nebraska,

Dienhart: Ranking the Big Ten’s top 10 wide receivers

Much debate rages about who will be the quarterback at Michigan. Whoever wins the job will be comforted by the fact he’ll throw to two of the Big Ten’s top targets in Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh. In fact, the former heads my ranking of 2016 Big Ten wide receivers. [ MORE: East OL | West OL | East pass-catchers | West pass-catchers | East backfields | West backfields | East DL | West DL ] Check out my top 10 below. 1. Jehu Chesson, Michigan, Sr. Wolverine insiders say the 6-3, 200-pound Chesson was the most improved player on

Big Ten links: Most watched 2015 games, Big Ten tributes & more

What were the most watched Big Ten football games in 2015? Dave Jones of Pennlive.com has them. No shocker that Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska were prominently involved in many of these highly viewed games. The No. 1 most watched? MSU at OSU. Shocked? A close finish between highly ranked teams that produced a monster upset fueled ratings. *** Ohio State’s already strong staff just got stronger with the addition of Joker Phillips, who at one time was head coach at Kentucky. He will be an offensive quality control assistant for Urban Meyer. Phillips was WR coach of

Dienhart: Big Ten West defensive line unit rankings

Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you the most difficult spot to recruit is defensive line. It is very difficult to find players who are big AND quick. Teams that can build good lines typically have a shot to win league titles. Iowa is one of those teams. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten West defensive lines. 1. Iowa. It hurts not having ends Drew Ott and Nate Meier, who made for a formidable tandem. Still, there is lots to build on. Sophomore