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Dienhart: My top 10 Big Ten defensive linemen

The Big Ten lost some good defensive linemen after last season. Four defensive tackles and three ends were selected in the NFL draft, highlighted by first-round pick Whitney Mercilus (Illinois). Also drafted were: Michigan State tackle Jerel Worthy (Packers), Penn State tackle Devon Still (Bengals), Michigan tackle Mike Martin (Titans), Nebraska tackle Jared Crick (Texans) and Iowa end Mike Daniels (Packers) and Penn State end Jack Crawford (Raiders). But lots of top talent returns for the conference up front, led by what may be the top end in the nation in Michigan State’s William Gholston. Here’s my ranking of the top 10

Dienhart: Instant 2015-16 schedule analysis

The Big Ten announced its 2015-16 conference football schedules on Monday morning. It’s difficult to know which teams will be good this far in advance, but it’s always fun to think about the future. BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down the 2015-16 Big Ten schedules in this post. What are some of the top cross-division games? Which teams don’t play during the 2015-16 seasons? And which teams benefit the most from these schedules? BEST CROSS-DIVISION GAMES Leaders Ohio State: Michigan (home: Nov. 26, 2016; away: Nov. 28, 2015), Michigan State (home: Oct. 17, 2015; away: Oct. 15, 2016) Penn State: Iowa

Ready, set, click Monday's best B1G web links

Got a case of the “Mondays”? Read these Big Ten football links! They’re 100 percent guaranteed. And you’ll be cheerier because of it. It’s only May 21, but the chattering, speculation, wonderment and anticipation of Michigan’s season-opening game vs. Alabama in Arlington, Texas, already are reaching epidemic proportions. Oh, sure: Michigan coaches can try to put a lid on the fever. But it’s a fruitless proposition. So, let’s just wallow in the hyperbole of the epic clash between two of college football’s most storied programs that will take place on Sept. 1 in a bigger-than-life game in a bigger-than-life stadium:

Big Ten announces 2015-16 conference slates

(BigTen.org) The Big Ten office announced the conference schedules for the 2015 and 2016 football seasons Monday, as approved by administrators during the Big Ten Joint Group Meetings last week in Chicago. Both the 2015 and 2016 schedules will feature all 12 teams in action the opening weekend and the last two Saturdays of Big Ten competition, while two teams will have byes during each of the other six weekends. Both seasons will conclude with the annual Big Ten Football Championship Game, with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship. The 2015 Big Ten season begins on Oct. 3 with

Dienhart: My Top 10 Big Ten Offensive Linemen

I’ve been using the offseason to rank a number of units, including running backs and tight ends. You can find all of my ranking posts over here. And now I turn my attention to ranking of the Top 10 Big Ten offensive linemen. There has been a big talent drain along the offensive line in the Big Ten. Gone are stalwarts like Iowa tackle Riley Reiff (first round/Lions), Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler (first round/Bengals), Illinois tackle Jeff Allen (second round/Chiefs), Wisconsin center Peter Konz (second round/Falcons), and Ohio State tackle Mike Adams (second round/Steelers). The later rounds of the draft

Hit the Links: Surfing Across Today's Big Ten News

Delivered my usual Big Ten news analysis and links this week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Now, it”s Friday. So before you try to cut out early to avoid this guy asking you to come to work over the weekend, check out these extra-super-terrific Big Ten grid links. Your life will be changed forever. The wrapping paper on a proposed four-team playoff hasn’t even been ripped off, but that hasn’t stopped the great Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal from proposing that an eight-team playoff should be the endgame. And, you know what? I think Oates is right.

Dienhart: My Top 10 Big Ten Tight Ends

The tight end spot continues to evolve into a more prominent position across the football landscape, as teams are featuring them more often as vertical passing threats. The Big Ten is no different, featuring some dynamic and athletic weapons that can work the middle of the field as “move” tight ends who line up in a variety of positions and often are in motion. And so, here my ranking of the top 10 Big Ten tight ends heading into the 2012 season. 1. Jacob Pedersen, 6-4, 242, Wisconsin, Jr. He’s the leading returning pass catcher among Big Ten tight ends,

Dienhart: Ranking 2012's Big Ten WRs

Who will be the best receiver in the Big Ten? It’s a difficult question. The position lost a lot of good talent after last season. How much? The seven top pass catchers from 2011 are gone: Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins; Iowa’s Marvin McNutt; Northwestern’s Jeremy Ebert; Michigan State’s B.J. Cunningham; Wisconsin’s Nick Toon; Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin; Minnesota’s Da’Jon McKnight. So, who’s best of who’s left? Here’s my ranking of the top 10 receivers in the Big Ten. 1. Keenan Davis, 6-3, 214, Iowa, Sr. Say “hello” to the Big Ten’s leading returning receiver from a receptions-per-game standpoint (4.2). Davis was

Analayzing Purdue's 2012 Schedule

Next up in my schedule analysis series: Purdue. What will be the Boilermakers’ toughest non-conference and conference games? Where is the schedule seemingly easiest, and then when does it get really rugged? Go ahead and guess which game I call their “must win” game, then read the rest of this post and see what I picked. You can find all of my Big Ten schedule analysis posts here. All of the teams are included except for Wisconsin, which you can look for Thursday. Toughest non-conference game: Let’s just say that the trip to Notre Dame on Sept. 8 will be,

Wednesday's links: More playoff talk

We are talking playoffs today. That’s correct, Jim Mora … playoffs. An honest-to-goodness playoff. Feel free to rub your eyes and shake your head. Big Ten athletic directors met in Chicago yesterday to discuss ideas for a college football playoff that would begin in 2014. The consensus? To have a four-team playoff, using the bowls for the two semifinal games. This from Nebraska A.D. Tom Osborne: “The bowls have been good to us. If you took them out of the playoff, it would pretty much destroy the bowl system.” Here is a video interview ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg conducted with Osborne