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Spring football is over and the offseason is officially here. Let’s all let loose with a collective sigh. Now we have to wait until the night of Thursday, August 29, for the first Big Ten game when UNLV plays at Minnesota. There are lots of barbecues, cannon balls into the swimming pool, croquet, Wiffle Ball and Jarts between now and then.
It’s time to talk the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The event might be six-plus months away, but the 2013 matchups were released Wednesday afternoon. This year’s event is Dec. 3-4, with six games each night, and it features first-year ACC members Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
This is a big year for Illinois’ Tim Beckman, who shook up his staff after debuting with a 2-10 overall record and going 0-8 in the Big Ten. The schedule is built for a nice start, as six of the first seven contests are home games—including a tilt in Chicago. But it’s November that could make or break the Fighting Illini. Yes, three of the five games are on the road—but three games are winnable: at Indiana; at Purdue; vs. Northwestern. And Illinois needs to cash in if it hopes to play in a bowl.
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BTN will televise 12 primetime games during the 2013 college football season, the most in network history. Five games feature a pre-season top-25 Big Ten team, while three of the 12 matchups feature games versus teams from the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 conferences. Eight Big Ten schools in all will be featured in primetime.
The Big Ten continues to be a revenue leader among the nation’s conferences.
Darius Paul, the younger brother of Illini product Brandon Paul, tweeted late Saturday night that he is transferring to Illinois. Paul, who must sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman at Western Michigan.
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The Big Ten put a bow on spring practice last Saturday, but many questions still loom as the schools enter the offseason.