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Dienhart: Predicting the Big Ten Race ... of 2012

The 2011 season was barely punctuated, and the 2012 football polls were already coming out. LSU looks like a consensus pick for No. 1, but the Big Ten is well represented. In the five polls I found, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin all were ranked. And Nebraska appeared in all but one poll. Ohio State, which is ineligible to win the Big Ten title or play in a bowl in 2012 because of probation, is in two polls.

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Dienhart: Coker released from scholarship

News that Iowa running back Marcus Coker has asked for his release from his scholarship is bad news for the Hawkeyes. The sophomore, who was suspended for Iowa’s Insight Bowl matchup with Oklahoma for violating team rules, was one of the Big Ten’s top backs, ranking second in the league in rushing (115.3 ypg). He ran 281 times for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns, bringing a tough, physical presence to the Hawkeye rushing attack after bursting on the scene at the end of 2010.

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Dienhart: Early NFL entrants may be few

The Big Ten already has seen two top underclassmen officially declare for the draft: Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus and Iowa OT Riley Reiff. And one report has Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy bolting (read the report), while many speculate that Wisconsin RB Montee Ball will opt for the NFL, too.

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Iowa OL Reiff to enter NFL draft

Iowa junior offensive tackle Riley Reiff, a 2011 first-team All-Big Ten performer, announced Wednesday that he will enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

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Dienhart: My Big Ten Bowl Honor Roll

The bowl season is over, with the Big Ten forging a 4-6 mark in the postseason. Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois all scored victories. Wisconsin and Ohio State lost close games, while Northwestern’s comeback against  Texas A&M came up just short and Iowa fell as well. Penn State? Nebraska? Maybe they will do better next season. Here’s a look at the best of the bowl season in my Honor Roll. Tell me what you think in the comments at the end of my post.

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