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BTN's Tom Dienhart

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart covers Big Ten football all year. Check out these links:

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Cotton Bowl preview: Spartans, Tide play for title game berth

This is an interesting playoff matchup pitting former Michigan State coach Nick Saban vs. Mark Dantonio, a one-time Saban aide in East Lansing. When these teams line up, it will be like looking in a mirror. Both have tough, physical offenses built on punching defenses in the nose with the running game. And the defenses for each team are anchored by two of the best lines in the nation. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of

Dienhart: Here's a look back at Northwestern's 2015 season

When 2015 dawned, questions loomed over Northwestern. The Wildcats went 10-3 in 2012, winning their first bowl since the 1948 season. But consecutive 5-7 seasons followed. Could Pat Fitzgerald get a program seemingly rocked by a highly-publicized effort to unionize back on track? On the field, had Northwestern gone soft? All is well now in the wake of a 10-win season and a New Year’s Day bowl trip as one of the most surprising teams not just in the Big Ten—but in the nation. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls |

Big Ten links: Purdue football complex, Michigan's new DC & more

Good news at Purdue, where the Board of Trustees approved funds for a much-needed football performance complex. The state-of-the-art football performance complex will significantly enhance the football student-athlete experience. In addition to the first-class amenities, having all of them located in one facility will result in more efficient use of the student-athletes’ time. Currently, football-related facilities are housed in multiple buildings. *** Never thought I’d look to the Minnesota punter for holiday inspiration. But Peter Mortell sets quite a standard. Last December, all Minnesota players received a $452 Best Buy gift card for playing Missouri in the Citrus Bowl. Mortell

Big Ten football beat writers pick most valuable players

With the 2015 college football regular season complete and the start of Big Ten bowl season less than a week away, it’s time to relive the season from the perspective of Big Ten beat writers. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] BTN.com recently asked a beat writer for every team to answer the same four questions, as part of our annual beat writers’ season recap. Today’s topic: Most valuable players. Previously,

Tom Dienhart shares his Big Ten bowl confidence picks

How about some bowl picks based on confidence in my selections? Sure! You know the drill. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Here are my Big Ten bowl picks based on confidence, from most confident in the pick (10) to least (1). 10. Ohio State over Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl 9. USC over Wisconsin, Holiday Bowl 8. Michigan over Florida, Citrus Bowl 7. Georgia over Penn State, TaxSlayer Bowl 6. Minnesota

'You like that' chants growing louder for white-hot Kirk Cousins

It’s a great time to be a Michigan State fan. [ MORE: Get all of our Big Ten pros coverage ] The men’s basketball team is No. 1 in the nation, the football team is the No. 3 seed in the second annual College Football Playoff, and Kirk Cousins and Draymond Green, two of the school’s most accomplished recent standouts, are getting it done in the NFL and NBA, respectively. Cousins completed 22 of 28 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns, to go along with a highlight-reel scoring scamper, in a 35-25 victory vs. Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, the

Duke to wear alternate helmet vs. Indiana in Pinstripe Bowl

It isn’t uncommon for teams to debut new uniform designs during bowl season. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Duke, Indiana’s postseason opponent, is doing just that for the Pinstripe Bowl. The Blue Devils will don the alternate lid pictured in the tweet above when they take on the Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The Pinstripe Bowl kicks off the Big Ten’s conference record-tying 10 bowl games. Read Tom

Photo: Ohio State fan uses Michigan fan to spell out 'O-H-I-O'

Ohio State has won 11 of the last 12 football meetings vs. heated rival Michigan. The Wolverines’ lone win during the streak came in 2011, when Luke Fickell was leading the Buckeyes. Ohio State fans are aware of the recent one-sided nature in one of sports’ greatest rivalries, and Michigan fans certainly need no reminder. Like all great rivalries, this one is great off the field, too. The fans, the schools and, sometimes, the actual participants aren’t afraid to do some trolling, sometimes in tasteful ways and sometimes not so much. The example in the tweet above is a great

Minnesota punter Peter Mortell raising money for charity

Peter Mortell is so much more than one of the best punters in the Big Ten. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] Known also for his mastery of social media, the Minnesota senior does plenty off the field to draw headlines. That includes charity work. A season ago, Mortell used his $452 Best Buy gift card from the Citrus Bowl to purchase items and donate them to needy kids at St.

Rose Bowl Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes return to Pasadena on a mission

Iowa is making its first Rose Bowl appearance since the 1990 season. Stanford is back in Pasadena for the third time in four years. [ MORE: Full bowl schedule | Polls: Pick bowl winners | Best of the Bowls | Ranking the bowls | Big Ten bowl bags | Bowl storylines | Get all of our bowl coverage ] The Cardinal doesn’t often see teams like Iowa, a big, tough physical squad that likes to punch foes in the mouth with the ground game. In fact, the one time it faced such a team, Stanford lost 16-6 at Northwestern in