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,
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.
Yes, it’s early July. Yes, it’s crazy to entertain possible 2014-15 bowl destinations. But, man, it’s fun to consider these lists. Athlon Sports recently released its preseason bowl projections, and nine Big Ten teams made the cut. The headliner: Ohio State, in the Rose Bowl, part of the inaugural College Football Playoff. Big Ten newcomer Maryland is on the list, too, as is Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin. [ MORE: Nebraska fans voted nation’s most loyal | Ohio Stadium ranked No. 2 in nation ] See all of Athlon’s B1G predictions here: Heart of Dallas: Maryland
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.
It’s early July, and that means it’s preseason college football awards watch lists season. See which Big Ten players were named to the Mackey Award an Rimington Trophy watch lists in this post. Mackey Award (Tight end): Kyle Carter, Penn State; Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State; Jesse James, Penn State; Tyler Kroft, Rutgers; Maxx Williams, Minnesota Rimington Trophy (Center): Jack Allen, Michigan State; Austin Blythe, Iowa; Betim Bujari, Rutgers; Sal Conaboy, Maryland; Robert Kugler, Purdue; Tommy Olson, Minnesota; Mark Pelini, Nebraska; Collin Rahrig, Indiana; Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern; Dan Voltz, Wisconsin Here’s a look at the full schedule of preseason watch lists:
Linebackers are the heart and soul of any good defense. Speed, strength, athletic ability, toughness … they must embody all of it. And no Big Ten team has a better collection of linebackers than Nebraska. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten’s linebacking corps. [ MORE: Top offensive lines | Defensive lines | Offensive backfields ] 1. Nebraska. This group took some lumps in recent years but now looks primed to excel. Athletic ability and speed abound. Michael Rose will work inside. Zaire Anderson—maybe the most consistent of the bunch–and David Santos—who used to work inside–are on the flanks. Josh
The Big Ten unit rankings continue with a look at the defensive lines. And, there are three standout fronts in the league, paced by Ohio State. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the best d-line in the nation. See my full rankings in this post. [ MORE: Big Ten’s top offensive lines | Big Ten’s top pass-catchers ] 1. Ohio State. This may be the finest front in the USA. Ends Noah Spence and Joey Bosa are formidable, combining for 15.5 sacks. Bosa was a true freshman phenom in 2013. Michael Bennett is a monster tackle. Running mate Adolphus Washington
Do you have any Big Ten collectables laying around the house? If yes, it’s time dig into your old antique boxes and get those Big Ten treasures noticed. Coming this fall, BTN is set to launch a new feature show, “Big Ten Treasure Hunter,” and we’re looking for your submissions. Memorabilia expert John Arcand will embark on a new journey each week, traveling throughout Big Ten country to offer up his opinion on Big Ten memorabilia collections – and offer to buy items from collectors. We introduced the show to our readers back in May, but now with the addition
I continue my Big Ten unit rankings with a look at the receiving/tight end corps. There is no shortage of good targets, with Big Ten newcomer Maryland featuring a monster collection of pass-catchers. See my full rankings in this post. [ MORE: Big Ten’s top offensive backfields | Big Ten’s top offensive lines ] 1. Maryland. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better tandem than Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, who each saw 2013 end early after suffering broken legs vs. Wake Forest. Even though he missed six games, Diggs still netted honorable mention All-ACC honors. Nigel King and Amba
Who was the best male college athlete from the 2014 sports year? How about the best male U.S. Olympian? Those are just two of the six categories in which a current or former Big Ten athlete is nominated for at this year’s ESPY Awards on July 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. The award show gathers top athletes from around the world to commemorate the past year in sports. This year, there are seven current or former Big Ten athletes who are up for awards. Here is a look at the list. BEST NFL PLAYER: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks