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Countdown to kickoff: West bowl teams?

Kickoff is fast approaching. To help count down the days to Aug. 28, the BTN.com team is discussing one topic every day. Think of it as our countdown to kickoff. Today’s topic: West bowl teams? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post. See our other 2014 countdown to kickoff posts: Tom Dienhart: 5. I have Iowa, my preseason West favorite, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin all bowling. Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin are easy picks. Minnesota is not, due to its tough schedule, and neither is Northwestern, which recently lost Venric Mark (transfer) and Christian Jones

Venric Mark says he's transferring to West Texas A&M

(AP) Former Northwestern running back Venric Mark is transferring to West Texas A&M, ESPN reported Saturday. Mark, who was going to be suspended for some of this season for an unspecified violation of team rules, said he wanted to be closer to his mother in Houston. “This is an hour and half from my mom,” Mark told the network. “It’s the best fit.” He declined to elaborate on reasons for his departure outside of citing health issues with his mother and grandmother. Mark told ESPN he had interest in Football Bowl Subdivision teams, including Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech

Dienhart's 2014 Big Ten football predictions

I’ve spent months (seems like years, some days) analyzing the coming 2014 season. I’ve talked to head coaches. assistant coaches and players. I even asked the greeter at my local Walmart who he likes to win the Big Ten. Hey, he’s a big Ohio State fan. I wanted to at least humor the guy, ya know? I’ve written and read countless stories, while also visiting with my brothers and sisters in the media. After all of that, I am ready to unveil my Big Ten predictions for 2014. See our other 2014 B1G Predictions posts: BIG TEN EAST 1. Michigan

2014 preseason All-Big Ten Freshman Team

Our BTN Summer Bus Tour is officially in the books. After visiting 14 Big Ten schools in 17 days, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart received plenty of insight and got an inside look into what to expect in the upcoming 2014 college football season. One of the biggest takeaways from the tour is that we should expect to see several impact freshman in the Big Ten this season. With Dienhart’s help, as well as some of the top Big Ten football media minds, here is a look at my preseason Big Ten all-freshman team. Get our football tour coverage: OFFENSE

Players on the rise? Here's Tom Dienhart's list!

With the 2014 BTN bus tour in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back at my team-by-team player on the rise. These are the players who have a bright future. They might not be a star or consistent regular this fall, but you should learn their names and get to like their games. Get Tom Dienhart’s latest coverage: Illinois: LB T.J. Neal. The sophomore linebacker looks good in the middle of the defense. I could see him getting 100 tackles. Indiana: LB Marcus Oliver. When I asked a defensive assistant what players he liked, he looked up

Dienhart's best of the 2014 BTN bus tour

The BTN bus traveled almost 4,000 miles, beginning in Bloomington, Ind., on Aug. 4 and ending in Champaign, Ill., on Aug. 20. We have kicked the tires on all 14 teams one last time—watching practice, talking to players, talking to coaches–before the season kicks off next week. Deep breath! Here is my best of the 2014 BTN bus tour. Get our football tour coverage: [ MORE: Get all of our tour coverage | See all of Dienhart’s Instagram videos ] BEST CAMPUSES 1. Penn State. You just can’t beat the backdrop of Mount Nittany on this hilly, bucolic campus. If

Video: Jim Delany does ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

What’s the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? How about having a freezing cold bucket of water dumped over your head, while also donating to a good cause? Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany did just that as he took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Tuesday outside of the conference office. Delany was challenged by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. [ MORE: Watch Big Ten personalities take ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ] Before having buckets of ice water poured over his head, Delany challenged BTN president Mark Silverman, as well as ESPN’s Burke Magnus. Watch’s Delany’s ALS

Dienhart's Diary: Next best thing to being on the bus

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is trying something new this year on our annual football tour. At each of the 14 practices across Big Ten country, Dienhart will pen a quick diary post. From Indiana, the first stop, to Illinois, the 14th and final stop, our expert will provide plenty of fun behind-the-scenes updates. Get our latest football tour coverage: AUG. 18: NEBRASKA Bus tracker: Minneapolis to Lincoln – 430 miles (2,923) Lincoln, Neb., is one of my top stops. I love the passion of the community. In fact, I don’t think any Big Ten school can top the fevered mania

Ranking the top Big Ten running back duos

Our BTN tour bus stopped in Madison, Wis., Friday to take in Wisconsin camp. While watching practice, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart sent out the following tweet about Wisconsin’s talented running back duo. It doesn't get much better than Corey Clement and Melvin Gordon, the best RB duo in the #B1G. #Badgers pic.twitter.com/0OnS9pFFbP — Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) August 15, 2014 This got me thinking about the best duos in the conference. Are Gordon and Clement indeed the top duo? Get all of our latest rankings posts: Here are my rankings. 1. Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, Wisconsin: Dienhart got it

Video: B1G names accept ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

There’s nothing wrong with an ice cold shower in the summer, right? Forget that, no matter the temperature, freezing cold water is going to shock the body. But, when it’s for a great cause, it’s more than worth the discomfort. Like so many others across the nation, Big Ten personalities are accepting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Watch a sampling in this post. BTN host Dave Revsine BTN host Mike Hall BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo Illinois AD Mike Thomas and men’s basketball coach John Groce Indiana AD Fred Glass Indiana men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley Indiana softball team Indiana women’s