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Week 1 Polls: Before the 2016 season kicks off Thursday night, pick your Week 1 Big Ten winners.

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all times ET
Friday Sep 2
12:30 PMW. Illinois at IowaWatch
3:00 PMLSU at IndianaWatch
4:00 PMPepperdine at MarylandWatch
7:00 PMGeorgetown at Rutgers Watch
7:00 PMIowa St. at NebraskaWatch
7:30 PMGeorgetown at MarylandWatch
8:00 PMSan Diego at WisconsinWatch
8:00 PMArizona St. at IowaWatch

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Power Five leagues release plan to give athletes more time off

The commissioners of the five autonomy conferences announced Thursday an agreement in concept on changes they will propose that are intended to give students who play sports more time off. The purpose of the changes is to rebalance the student experience between athletics and campus life, providing students with more time to focus on other college interests, including academics, work experience, travel, and additional rest. The first area of change, Flex 21, will provide students, in many cases, with at least an additional 21 days in which they are free of required athletic activities during the academic year. These 21

Dec 30, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst (right) shakes ahnds with linebacker Vince Biegel (47) during the fourth quarter against the USC Trojans in the 2015 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: Big Ten West linebacker unit rankings

Talented, quick, deep … those are just three words that aptly describe the linebacking corps at Wisconsin, which tops my ranking of Big Ten West linebackers. But the LBs will have to adjust to a new coordinator. What impact will that have? [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West defensive lines | West predictions ] Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten West linebacker units. 1. Wisconsin. Senior Vince Biegel and sophomore T.J. Edwards are the bellwethers of this strong unit. Biegel tallied 14 TFLs in 2015 and is the leader of the defense

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The top Big Ten football players by jersey number

When talking about the best football players in Big Ten history, it is near impossible to choose just one player worthy of the title, “the best.” [ MORE: Can a Big Ten West team win the conference title in 2016? ] So, what’s the right way to break down this argument? You could do it by position, but even that could be extremely difficult. Making a list of the top Big Ten players to wear every number would be great, but is that even possible? The answer is yes. I went through every jersey number, 1-99, and created a list

Nov 27, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Parker Hesse (40) returns a pass for a touchdown during the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: Big Ten West defensive line unit rankings

Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you the most difficult spot to recruit is defensive line. It is very difficult to find players who are big AND quick. Teams that can build good lines typically have a shot to win league titles. Iowa is one of those teams. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten West defensive lines. 1. Iowa. It hurts not having ends Drew Ott and Nate Meier, who made for a formidable tandem. Still, there is lots to build on. Sophomore

Oct 17, 2015; Evanston, IL, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) runs the ball during the second half of the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field.

Dienhart: Big Ten West offensive backfield unit rankings

This time last year, few could have envisioned the historic season Iowa was about to enjoy. The Hawkeyes started the season 12-0, a first, and went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1990 season after playing in their first Big Ten title game. This season shapes up well, too, beginning with a loaded backfield. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | 2016 Big Ten West predictions ] Here’s my ranking of the offensive backfields in the Big Ten West. 1. Iowa. Things are looking good with QB C.J. Beathard back. The senior is coming

BTN LiveBIG: Inspiring commencements around the conference

Doffing cap and gown, thousands of Big Ten students recently made one of the biggest transitions of their lives. These newly-minted college graduates are poised to face the challenges of an ever-changing world beyond campus. If an education from one of the best universities in the nation wasn’t enough, they also received valued advice from that bastion of the baccalaureate — the commencement speaker — as a parting gift. And this year’s speakers brought both gravitas and levity to graduation days around the Big Ten. From a crusading clinician to the leader of the free world, these addresses are filled

Athlon: Madison, Ann Arbor land in experts' top college towns

People love to debate top college towns. That being the case, they also love reading stories that rank the top college towns. Athlon Sports knows this, and it recently released its experts’ top 10 college towns. Two Big Ten towns made the cut, with Madison, Wisconsin, coming in at No. 2, behind Athens, Georgia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, landing at No. 5. State College, Pennsylvania, finished outside the top 10, at No. 13, and Columbus, Ohio, received votes. Anything stand out as unusual? See the full list at AthlonSports.com.

Oct 10, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp (1) leads the offense onto the field against the Wisconsin Badgers at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Nebraska 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: Big Ten West receiving corps unit rankings

When you think of Nebraska, you think of ground-pounding offenses. Mike Riley wants to commit to the rush game in 2016. But, he’ll surely also want to take advantage of what looks like the top set of pass catchers in the West Division. [ MORE: Ranking Big Ten West offensive lines | 2016 Big Ten West predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten West pass-catchers. 1. Nebraska. No shortage of options for QB Tommy Armstrong with seniors Brandon Reilly, Jordan Westerkamp and Alonzo Moore leading the way. And speedy junior De’Mornay Pierson-El is back from injury. He