As Year Three of the Tim Beckman era dawns at Illinois, progress has been slow but tangible. The Fighting Illini went 0-8 in the Big Ten in 2012; they won a conference game last season and generally were more competitive. Why? The offense improved—a lot. Credit the arrival of coordinator Bill Cubit. The Illinois attack went from being one of the worst in the nation in 2012 to ranking 46th in total offense (426.7 ypg) last year. Illinois was 61st in scoring (29.7 ppg). In 2012, Illinois ranked 119th in total offense (296.7 ypg) and 119th in scoring (16.7 ppg).
LeBron James is heading home to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers. This will go down as the biggest decision of the 2014 sports year. This got us thinking, what were the biggest decisions made in the Big Ten this past year? Here is a list of our top Big Ten decisions of the past year. Adding Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten Just 11 days ago, Maryland and Rutgers officially became the 13th and 14th members of the Big Ten conference. It marked a historic day for the nation’s oldest conference. Check out all of our Maryland and
He’s often one of the most popular men on campus. Fans often clamor to see him buckle his chinstrap and trot onto the field: He’s the backup quarterback. When an offense is struggling, the No. 2 signal-caller is a favorite. Who is your school’s backup quarterback? How confident should you be in him? Get my ranking in this post. [ MORE: View all of Tom Dienhart’s preseason position rankings ] 1. Illinois. With Nathan Scheelhaase gone, the starting job is up for grabs in Champaign. Oklahoma State sophomore transfer Wes Lunt, senior Reilly O’Toole and athletic sophomore Aaron Bailey are
The Big Ten announced Thursday the 42 student-athletes scheduled to attend the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon, presented by Allstate and BMW, July 28-29 at the Hilton Chicago. The 43rd annual event will mark the first official appearance of Maryland and Rutgers as members of the Big Ten and will feature 20 returning all-conference selections and all 14 head coaches. Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah will speak on behalf of the players at the Kickoff Luncheon. EAST DIVISION INDIANA David Cooper, Sr., LB Nate Sudfeld, Jr., QB Shane Wynn, Sr., WR* *** MARYLAND C.J. Brown,
Specials teams are often the overlooked area of teams, but they’re the essential third component that can make or break a game or a season. That big return, booming punt that flips the field or clutch last-second field goal often looms large in any game. Here’s a look at the Big Ten special teams units. [ MORE: Five B1G stars named to Lou Groza or Ray Award watch lists ] 1. Michigan State. The Spartans are sitting pretty with punter Mike Sadler and kicker Michael Geiger. Sadler has deft touch, pacing the nation in punts downed inside the 10-yard line.
Few schools have played defense as well as Michigan State in recent years. And a big reason for the success has been the secondary, a unit known for its aggressive, press-man coverage. MSU will have another talented secondary in 2014. In fact, it will be the best in the conference. Here’s a look at Big Ten defensive backfields. [ MORE: Read all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten football coverage ] 1. Michigan State. This group has become famous for its “No Fly Zone” moniker. Expect more standout play even with CB Darqueze Dennard gone. Trae Waynes is the new star corner.
It’s early July, and that means it’s preseason college football awards watch lists season. See which Big Ten players were named to the Mackey Award an Rimington Trophy watch lists in this post. Mackey Award (Tight end): Kyle Carter, Penn State; Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State; Jesse James, Penn State; Tyler Kroft, Rutgers; Maxx Williams, Minnesota Rimington Trophy (Center): Jack Allen, Michigan State; Austin Blythe, Iowa; Betim Bujari, Rutgers; Sal Conaboy, Maryland; Robert Kugler, Purdue; Tommy Olson, Minnesota; Mark Pelini, Nebraska; Collin Rahrig, Indiana; Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern; Dan Voltz, Wisconsin Here’s a look at the full schedule of preseason watch lists:
Linebackers are the heart and soul of any good defense. Speed, strength, athletic ability, toughness … they must embody all of it. And no Big Ten team has a better collection of linebackers than Nebraska. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten’s linebacking corps. [ MORE: Top offensive lines | Defensive lines | Offensive backfields ] 1. Nebraska. This group took some lumps in recent years but now looks primed to excel. Athletic ability and speed abound. Michael Rose will work inside. Zaire Anderson—maybe the most consistent of the bunch–and David Santos—who used to work inside–are on the flanks. Josh
The Big Ten unit rankings continue with a look at the defensive lines. And, there are three standout fronts in the league, paced by Ohio State. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the best d-line in the nation. See my full rankings in this post. [ MORE: Big Ten’s top offensive lines | Big Ten’s top pass-catchers ] 1. Ohio State. This may be the finest front in the USA. Ends Noah Spence and Joey Bosa are formidable, combining for 15.5 sacks. Bosa was a true freshman phenom in 2013. Michael Bennett is a monster tackle. Running mate Adolphus Washington
Do you have any Big Ten collectables laying around the house? If yes, it’s time dig into your old antique boxes and get those Big Ten treasures noticed. Coming this fall, BTN is set to launch a new feature show, “Big Ten Treasure Hunter,” and we’re looking for your submissions. Memorabilia expert John Arcand will embark on a new journey each week, traveling throughout Big Ten country to offer up his opinion on Big Ten memorabilia collections – and offer to buy items from collectors. We introduced the show to our readers back in May, but now with the addition