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Dienhart reacts to 2014 football preview mags

I finally have had a chance to closely check out my three favorite college football preview mags: Athlon, Lindy’s and Sporting News. It’s fun to compare and contrast the predicted order of finish in the various publications. After considering the three publications’ picks, I decided to offer some reactions. Here goes: Ohio State is the consensus pick to win the East. But, I gotta tell ya, I’m liking Michigan State. Yes, the Buckeyes have lots of talent, but the jury remains out on a defense that struggled last season in ranking No. 7 overall and No. 11 vs. the pass

Photo: College Football Playoff trophy unveiled

Now, we know what college football teams will be playing for in the 2014 season, the first of the new College Football Playoff system. On Monday, the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy was unveiled. See pictures of it in this post. [ MORE: Jerry Palm puts Ohio State in first College Football Playoff ] To compare, here’s what the national champ won during the BCS era:

BTN LiveBIG: PSU football lifting weights, spirits

When Penn State football player Scott Shirley learned his father was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2003, he and his family soon learned that little could be done to treat this debilitating condition. Yet his Nittany Lion teammates immediately rallied around him — most especially through Lift For Life. This strength-and-conditioning competition was conceived as a way to raise awareness and money for treatment of this rare disease, one of about 7,000 classified as such because it impacts a very small population and thus receives little attention and funding for medical remedies and cures. Now in its second decade, the

Top Big Ten 'Decisions' of past sports year

LeBron James is heading home to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers. This will go down as the biggest decision of the 2014 sports year. This got us thinking, what were the biggest decisions made in the Big Ten this past year? Here is a list of our top Big Ten decisions of the past year. Adding Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten Just 11 days ago, Maryland and Rutgers officially became the 13th and 14th members of the Big Ten conference. It marked a historic day for the nation’s oldest conference. Check out all of our Maryland and

Four B1G teams land in ESPN's Top 25 future rankings

Who will be the most dominant college football team in the Big Ten over the next three seasons? Our friends over at ESPN recently took an in-depth look at that in their latest Future Power Rankings. A five-man panel, which consisted of Travis Haney, Brad Edwards, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill and Mark Schlabach, provided 1-10 ratings in five different categories, including coaching, talent, recruiting, title and power. [ MORE: Get Tom Dienhart’s preseason positions rankings ] Here is a look at what Big Ten teams appear on the list. 3. OHIO STATE Coaching: 9.2/10 Talent: 8.6/10 Recruiting: 9.2/10 Title: 8.2/10

Backup QB rankings: Illini in good hands

He’s often one of the most popular men on campus. Fans often clamor to see him buckle his chinstrap and trot onto the field: He’s the backup quarterback. When an offense is struggling, the No. 2 signal-caller is a favorite. Who is your school’s backup quarterback? How confident should you be in him? Get my ranking in this post. [ MORE: View all of Tom Dienhart’s preseason position rankings ] 1. Illinois. With Nathan Scheelhaase gone, the starting job is up for grabs in Champaign. Oklahoma State sophomore transfer Wes Lunt, senior Reilly O’Toole and athletic sophomore Aaron Bailey are

Which stars are attending 2014 B1G Media Days?

The Big Ten announced Thursday the 42 student-athletes scheduled to attend the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon, presented by Allstate and BMW, July 28-29 at the Hilton Chicago. The 43rd annual event will mark the first official appearance of Maryland and Rutgers as members of the Big Ten and will feature 20 returning all-conference selections and all 14 head coaches. Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah will speak on behalf of the players at the Kickoff Luncheon. EAST DIVISION INDIANA David Cooper, Sr., LB Nate Sudfeld, Jr., QB Shane Wynn, Sr., WR* *** MARYLAND C.J. Brown,

Photo: Recruit gets Nittany Lion logo shaved into head

Penn State recruit Adam McLean, a defensive tackle out of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is excited about becoming a Nittany Lion. So much so, the Quince Orchard High School standout was spotted with the Penn State logo shaved into his head. It’s only a matter of time before Beaver Stadium is home, Adam. See photos in this post. h/t: @birm About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work

Spartans rule special teams unit rankings

Specials teams are often the overlooked area of teams, but they’re the essential third component that can make or break a game or a season. That big return, booming punt that flips the field or clutch last-second field goal often looms large in any game. Here’s a look at the Big Ten special teams units. [ MORE: Five B1G stars named to Lou Groza or Ray Award watch lists ] 1. Michigan State. The Spartans are sitting pretty with punter Mike Sadler and kicker Michael Geiger. Sadler has deft touch, pacing the nation in punts downed inside the 10-yard line.

DB rankings: Spartans' 'No Fly Zone' tops B1G

Few schools have played defense as well as Michigan State in recent years. And a big reason for the success has been the secondary, a unit known for its aggressive, press-man coverage. MSU will have another talented secondary in 2014. In fact, it will be the best in the conference. Here’s a look at Big Ten defensive backfields. [ MORE: Read all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten football coverage ] 1. Michigan State. This group has become famous for its “No Fly Zone” moniker. Expect more standout play even with CB Darqueze Dennard gone. Trae Waynes is the new star corner.