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Four Downs: Predictions, facts & more

It’s that time of the week, time for four predictions, four thoughts, four truths, four jockstrap games and four factoids. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Four Downs. Are you ready for it? Here we go! 4 PREDICTIONS 1. After a lackluster effort at Wisconsin last Saturday, Northwestern is going to come out motivated vs. Minnesota. Don’t read too much into the consecutive losses for the Wildcats. They got beat by arguably the two best teams in Ohio State and Wisconsin. No shame in that. It’s time for NU to get back on track—with or without dinged up

Football report cards: How will season play out?

Before the second half of the season starts, let’s take a snapshot of the Big Ten at the halfway mark. Following is my team-by-team report card with award winners for each squad as well as projected won-loss totals, among other juicy tidbits. Where do you agree? Were do you think I’m wrong? Is your team going to be eligible for a bowl? Have a look at my assessments, watch the top ten plays from last week in the video in this post, and then let’s move forward with Saturday’s games. And don’t forget our Week 8 predictions, my Week 8

Friday links: Meyer hands out OSU report card

Happy Football Friday! Let’s not waste any time, OK? Let’s dig right into some of the Big Ten news that’s making ripples from Lincoln to State College—and all points in between. This caught my attention: Urban Meyer offers a midterm report card for his 6-0 team. There obviously are many areas that get good marks. The areas of concern? “The alarming areas are pass defense, our return game has not been what we thought it would be and we still have to improve the intermediate and short passing game,” Meyer said.” Speaking of Ohio State, Braxton Miller says he wasn’t

Which contender has most to prove in second half?

So, here we are at the midway point of the 2013 Big Ten football season, and I can’t help but wonder which Big Ten title contender has the most to prove in the second half. Is it Ohio State, the undefeated team that hasn’t lost since the 2012 Gator Bowl? Is it Michigan, the 5-1 team that squeaked past Akron and UConn? Is it Nebraska, the 5-1 team that lost its lone true test? Or is it someone else? I say it’s Nebraska. The Huskers, my preseason Legends Division favorite, are 5-1. But, really, what do we know about them?

Big Ten stars fill Midseason All-America teams

We are officially halfway through the college football season, which is hard to believe. It has been a phenomenal Big Ten season thus far, featuring plenty of great games and individual performers. Several of those top individual performers were rewarded this week by being named to various 2013 Midseason All-America Teams. ESPN, CBS and Sports Illustrated all released their Midseason All-America teams over the past two days, and plenty of B1G stars are included in the mix. How do these lists compare with Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten Midseason Report? Have a look here: ESPN.com 2013 Midseason All-America Team (10/15/2013) RB:

Alvarez, Osborne named to Playoff Selection Committee

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday the 13 members of its selection committee that will pick the four teams to participate in a coming playoff in 2014. Selection committee members with Big Ten ties are Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez and former Nebraska A.D. Tom Osborne. Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long is the chair of the committee. [ MORE: College Football Playoff announces Selection Committee (PDF) ] “We wanted people of the highest integrity for this committee, and we got them,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. “Every one of them has vast football knowledge, excellent judgment, dedication

Dienhart: 2018-19 football schedule analysis

The Big Ten announced Wednesday its conference schedules for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. And there are some good cross-division games. In making league schedules, the Big Ten earlier stated that it would take a “parity-based” approach. What’s that? The marquee programs will play each other outside of division play as often as possible. [ MORE: View 2018 conference schedule (PDF) | And 2019 conference schedule (PDF) ] And, remember, with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, the Big Ten is going to seven-team East and West Divisions. Here’s a look at the divisions: BIG TEN EAST Indiana

Is it too early to break down Legends race?

We knew it was going to be a wild Legends Division race, and it’s lived up to the hype. Every team has played two Big Ten games, with the results yielding a pair of 2-0, 1-1 and 0-2 teams. The preseason contenders with the favorable schedules, Michigan State and Nebraska, are off to perfect starts, while the preseason contenders with the unfavorable schedules, Michigan and Northwestern, check in at 1-1 and 0-2, respectively. [ MORE: Tom Dienhart answers Legends Division questions in his Mailbag ] So, is the four-team race now a two-teamer? Not yet. The Huskers and Spartans may

Dienhart: Check out my All-Big Ten Midseason Team

Seven weeks down, seven weeks to go. At the midway point of the 2013 Big Ten football season, it’s time to release my All-Big Ten Midseason Team. I also did a midseason report. See who made my midseason team in this post. OFFENSE WR Allen Robinson, Penn State WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin TE Devin Funchess, Michigan C Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern G Ryan Groy, Wisconsin G Spencer Long, Nebraska T Taylor Lewan, Michigan T Jack Mewhort, Ohio State QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin DEFENSE E Tyler Scott, Northwestern E Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

Player Rankings: Pair of Badgers top latest list

It’s a new week, which means it’s time to release my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. This week, a pair of Badgers top the list following standout performances in the team’s rout over Northwestern. View my latest Big Ten Player Rankings in this post. Who did I miss? [ MORE: Power Rankings | Week 7 grades & honors | What did Tom learn? | Week 7 picks revisited ] 1. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. Here’s all you need to know about Gordon: His yard-per-carry is under 10 for the first time this season. In case you forgot, we’re heading into