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Q&A: Iowa's Phil Parker 'pleased' with defense

Everyone at Iowa is ready to turn the page on 2012 and move forward. Why not? Last season saw the Hawkeyes go 4-8, the program’s worst mark since 2000—Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. Iowa missed a bowl for the first time since 2007, ending a four-year bowl run. The Hawkeyes offense was at the root of the team’s issues in 2012. But the defense could have played better, too. Coordinator Phil Parker—who has been on Ferentz’s staff from the start in 1999–knows that. The Iowa defense finished ninth overall in the Big Ten last season (381.6 ypg); the

Dienhart: Big Ten backup QB rankings

Often, the most popular player on campus is the backup quarterback. The guy holding the clipboard and wearing a baseball cap typically is perceived as being the answer to every struggling offense. On that note, here’s my ranking of the Big Ten backup quarterback situations. 1. Northwestern. Actually, the Wildcats have two starters: senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian. It doesn’t really matter who begins the game under center. Colter typically gets the call, starting 12 of 13 games last season. But Siemian plays often in what is the rare two-quarterback system that thrives. 2. Ohio State. Senior Kenny

Video: Iowa's Hawk Truck visits Oklahoma

Iowa’s Hawk Truck is used to transporting equipment to away games across the country. Recently, it hit the road filled with beds, food and other everyday supplies. Why? Because Kirk Ferentz and company wanted to lend a helping hand to those affected by the tornadoes in Moore, Okla. [ VIDEO: Watch SoonerSports.TV’s feature on the Iowa trucks at Oklahoma ] “It’s really incredible that the people of Iowa have two truckloads of stuff here for the Oklahoma Food Bank,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. Ferentz called Stoops shortly after the devastating tornadoes struck and told him of his plan to

Dienhart: It's time to rank Big Ten secondaries

There are some nice defensive backfields in the Big Ten. And none is better than Ohio State’s. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the top secondary in the nation, which is one of many reasons why Ohio State is a legit national title contender. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten defensive backfields. 1. Ohio State. Loaded. There is no other way to describe this unit, which will be led by junior Bradley Roby, who may be the top cornerback in the nation. Safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett also are returning starters. Is there a better safety tandem in

Dienhart: How do Big Ten LB units stack up?

The last two seasons, no Big Ten defense has played as well as Michigan State’s. A big reason for that has been the play of the linebackers. And that unit should continue to excel and be the bellwether of the conference’s linebacking corps in 2013. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten linebacking units. 1. Michigan State. An embarrassment of riches. Senior Max Bullough leads the charge in the middle. Look up “football player” in the dictionary, and there is Bullough. Fellow senior Denicos Allen, a fleet athlete who is on the strong side, may be the fastest linebacker

Dienhart: Pinstripe Bowl deal helps grow Big Ten brand

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, so the saying goes. Well, the Big Ten is going to give it a shot on one of the biggest stages in the world. Today, it was announced that the Big Ten has an agreement with the New York Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to be part of a growing postseason event. The deal is for eight years, beginning in 2014 and extending through 2021. [ BigTen.org: Big Ten announces partnership with Yankees, Pinstripe Bowl ] “Once we saw the success of the New Era

Big Ten announces 2015 conference schedule

The Big Ten office announced the conference schedule for the 2015 football season today, which will consist of eight games for each of the Big Ten’s 14 teams before the conference moves to nine-game schedules in 2016. The 2015 schedule starts on Sept. 19 and will culminate with the fifth annual Big Ten Football Championship Game. [ RELATED: View the complete 2015 conference schedule ] The 2015 Big Ten season begins with Rutgers at Penn State in a matchup of East Division members on Sept. 19. The remaining 12 conference schools will kick off Big Ten play on Oct. 3,

Dienhart: Here's how I rank Big Ten defensive lines

The biggest difference between the SEC and Big Ten isn’t speed at the skill-positions on offense. Nope. It’s on defense—along the line, in particular. The Big Ten has some big fellas who can make plays and get up the field—just not the depth and breadth of the SEC. But, the situation is improving. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten defensive lines. 1. Ohio State. Hard to think this unit could rank this high with all four starters—John Simon, Nathan Williams, Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel–from last year gone. But, it’s true. The Buckeyes are loaded with great young players

Dienhart: Let's rank Big Ten offensive lines

It all begins up front. Ask any coach. Without good blockers, skill talent is diminished—and offenses flounder. The Big Ten has some potentially strong blocking units, which has hopes high in several precincts. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten offensive lines, starting with two of the conference’s biggest powerhouse programs. 1. Ohio State. Line coach Ed Warinner continues to work wonders, transforming this into one of the Big Ten’s top units. Four starters are back in 2013, with only Reid Fragel gone from right tackle. Junior left guard Andrew Norwell, who also started five games at tackle last season

Which school had best 2012-13 B1G athletic year?

This is interesting. From the JournalStar.com, here is the composite Big Ten 2012-13 standings, showing the average finish among each school’s men’s and women’s teams. A big year for Michigan, which is on a roll. The Wolverines took Big Ten titles in softball, men’s gymnastics, women’s cross country, women’s tennis and men’s swimming. Wait until the football team really gets it going. Here are the official composite standings (this only accounts for Big Ten standings, not NCAA performance): 1. Michigan 4.04 2. Minnesota 4.43 3. Ohio State 4.64 4. Penn State 4.92 5. Illinois 5.24 6. Nebraska 5.57 7. Wisconsin