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Best of Week 2: Offense (Ducks) vs. Defense (Spartans)

Week 2 brings more juice than the opening salvo to the season, as there are three nationally relevant games: Michigan State at Oregon; Virginia Tech at Ohio State; Michigan at Notre Dame. In fact, those games will offer the Big Ten a golden chance to make a statement. A win by the Spartans on the road in raucous Autzen Stadium would stamp them legit national title contenders. Here’s a look at the best of Week 2. [ MORE: Get all of Dienhart’s preseason schedule analysis ] BEST OF WEEK 2 Best storyline: All eyes will be on Eugene, Ore., where

Best of Week 1: Wisconsin vs. LSU, what else?

With the season less than 100 days away and preview magazines on the shelves of the local Piggly Wiggly, it’s never too early to start looking forward to the college football season. This week, I begin to take a week-by-week look at the coming season, highlighting what to look for. Consider it an early, early preview. You’re welcome. [ MORE: Get all of Dienhart’s preseason schedule analysis ] BEST OF WEEK 1 Best storyline: The opening week of season is highlighted by Wisconsin’s clash with LSU in Houston. It will be a good measuring stick for the Badgers, especially the

Breaking down the Big Ten non-con sked

The formula for building a non-conference schedule is pretty standard: play one challenging game vs. a team from a Power 5 league (ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten) and three games vs. foes from “lesser” conferences. And ideally, three of the four games are at home. But, as you can see, not all non-conference games are created equally. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Big Ten’s non-conference schedule. Power 5 foes: 17 Bowl teams: 24 FCS foes: 11 Foes by Power 5 league Pac-12: 5 (Cal, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Washington State) ACC: 4 (Pitt, Syracuse, Miami, Virginia Tech) Big

Big Ten Football Spelling Bee: Try to spell these names

With the Scripps National Spelling Bee taking place Thursday, it got us thinking about some of the most challenging names to spell in the Big Ten. One our out favorite parts of the college football season is introducing Big Ten fans to some of the best names to keep an eye on, and these are ones that you may have to break out the ol’ game program to spell correctly. Some of the names are hard to spell because of a unique spelling (think Maxx Williams), and some are hard because they’re just very unique names (think Ifeadi Odenigbo). Either way,

What's your Big Ten team's toughest non-con game?

We’ve reached the right side of 100 when it comes to the countdown to the college football season. Three months from now, there will be football. Get excited! Until then, we’re previewing the season. It’s time for Tom Dienhart to single out your team’s toughest non-conference game. ILLINOIS A Sept. 13 trip to Washington will be a good test. The teams met last season in Chicago’s Soldier Field, with the Huskies taking a 34-24 victory to be a buzzkill to a 2-0 Illinois start. The Illini won just two times after the loss to U-Dub, killing the party mood along

Dienhart: Wisconsin's 2014 schedule analysis

The Gary Andersen era began with success in 2013. In fact, Wisconsin had BCS bowl aspirations before losing the finale to Penn State at home. The Badgers return a nice collection of talent led by running back Melvin Gordon. But some questions loom on a defense that must develop a front sevent. And who will be the go-to wideout on offense? On the subject of passing, is quarterback Joel Stave’s job safe? The good news in Madison: Wisconsin will play one of the cushiest schedules in the Big Ten, as it misses all of the top contenders from the Big

Got Big Ten collectibles? Tell 'Treasure Hunter'

Coming this fall on BTN/BTN2Go, our new show “Big Ten Treasure Hunter” debuts, and we’re looking for your submissions. BTN’s memorabilia expert John Arcand will spend each episode traveling throughout Big Ten country to assess Big Ten memorabilia collections – and offer to buy items from collectors. Do you have something special sitting on your shelf? Our “Big Ten Treasure Hunter” crew wants to learn about it.      

Four Big Ten teams ranked in SN's preseason top 25

Four Big Ten teams are ranked in SportingNews.com’s Preseason Top 25, headlined by No. 9 Ohio State. Reigning Big Ten and Rose Bowl champ Michigan State comes in at No. 12, while Nebraska (No. 17) and Wisconsin (No. 19) round out the Big Ten contingent. For the curious minds, Oklahoma is the site’s No. 1 team. [ MORE: SportingNews.com: Preseason Top 25 ] No. 9 Ohio State “Urban Meyer says he’s more involved in the defense; says new defensive coordinator Chris Ash has made a difference in the way the Buckeyes get after the quarterback and cover in the secondary

Where B1G teams rank in Preseason Power Index

Now that spring football is in the books, we are slowly starting to see preseason rankings trickle in for the 2014 season. Our friends over at ESPN recently created an automated set of preseason ratings for every team. The ratings are designed to predict how strong each team will be in the upcoming season. This is calculated using the Football Power Index, which according to ESPN is a predictive measure of team strength that uses the EPA breakdowns that correlate most with future results. The efficiency rankings are the point contributions for the Off/Def/Special Teams units to the team’s opponent-adjusted

ESPN lists 3 B1G teams as playoff 'contenders'

ESPN.com compiled a list of the 16 teams that have what it takes to make the inaugural College Football Playoff — and win it. Three of the teams reside in the Big Ten: Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. No real surprises there, unless maybe you’re an Iowa or Nebraska fan. [ MORE: Dienhart: How about a 10-game Big Ten schedule? ] The Big Ten team with the best shot at making the playoff? That’s to be determined, as ESPN.com listed the teams in alphabetical order and will whittle them down throughout the week. It’ll probably be between Michigan State