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Dienhart: Analyzing Illinois' 2012 schedule

In the coming weeks, I will take a close look at each Big Ten football team’s schedule, offering insight and analysis on what is ahead for each school. Up first: Illinois. The Illini, of course, enter the first year of the Tim Beckman regime. A season ago, Illinois started 6-0 and entertained early dreams of playing in the Rose Bowl. Six games later, the Illini were 6-6. It was a rough finish–so rough it cost Ron Zook his job. See my Illinois schedule analysis in this post. Toughest non-conference game: Sept. 8, at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are a

Ready, set, click Wednesday's best web links

What’s going on around the Big Ten football landscape today? senior writer Tom Dienhart links you to Wednesday’s best Big Ten headlines in this post. SEEING GREEN:’s Andrew Perloff predicts that Michigan State defensive end William Gholston will be a first-round draft choice. This is sorta like predicting rain in Seattle. At 6-7, 280 pounds, the junior is a physical freak, but Perloff says some teams may have “character concerns” about Gholston. Well, we all know how NFL teams feel: If you can play, they don’t really care about character. ANOTHER DEFENSIVE STUD: While I’m on the subject

Dienhart: Tuesday's best Big Ten web links

The 2012 NFL Draft draft just completed Saturday night, and many of the experts are already looking ahead to the 2013 class. See links to early 2013 mock drafts and much more in senior writer Tom Dienhart’s latest daily links. READY FOR A BATTLE: Joel Stave looked good in Wisconsin’s spring game on Saturday, hitting 14-of-25 passes for 135 yards with a touchdown and interception. Now, he says he’s ready to take on Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien for the starting job when camp opens. While this is all well and good, I still think O’Brien will be VERY difficult

All-Spring Defense & Special Teams Honorees

Yesterday, senior writer Tom Dienhart released his All-Big Ten Spring Offensive Team. Today, it’s time to recognize the best on defense and special teams. Which players shined the most from Lincoln, Neb., to State College, Pa.? Dienhart talked to media, coaches and college officials across Big Ten country to get their views. With that, check out Dienhart’s All-Big Ten Spring defensive and special team honorees. Have someone he forget? Add it as a comment at the bottom of this post. DEFENSE E Jason Ankrah, 6-4, 265, Jr., Nebraska – He appears to be primed for a breakout season. Ankrah

All-Big Ten Spring Offensive Team

Big Ten spring practices officially ended last Saturday, with Michigan State and Wisconsin playing their spring games. What players shined from Lincoln, Neb., to State College, Pa.? I talked to media, coaches and college officials across Big Ten country to get their views. With that, I unveil my All-Big Ten Spring offensive team. My defensive team will follow. See my offensive stars in this post. WR Michael Thomas, 6-2, 193, Fr. Ohio State – A nephew of former NFL great Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas arrived early to take part in spring drills. Smart move, as he was sensational. Thomas capped the

Dienhart: My All-Big Ten Undrafted Team

The 2012 NFL Draft came and went this past weekend, with a grand total of 41 Big Ten products being selected during the three-day event. Iowa’s Riley Reiff was the first player off the board, at No. 23, while Illinois, believe it or not, accounted for four of the Big Ten’s first six draft picks. But what about those players who went undrafted? They began signing contracts immediately following the draft. Here’s a complete list of Big Ten free-agent signees. In this post, senior writer Tom Dienhart compiles his All-Big Ten Undrafted Team. OFFENSE WR Da’Jon McKnight, Minnesota (Vikings)

Monday's Football Headlines Worth a Look

The Spartans had an upbeat weekend scrimmage while the debate over a certain Michigan jersey stays alive. Two writers discuss Ohio State’s football outlook while another writer examines the Wisconsin kicking situation.  Here what I think about the football headlines buzzing around Big Ten nation on this Monday. Spartans upbeat: Michigan State capped its spring session on Saturday with a game. The conclusion of most: The defense was dominant. And that should continue in the fall. In fact, some think the Spartan defense may be BCS bowl worthy. Really. The defense scored the only points for the Green team, as

Meet Michigan State QB Andrew Maxwell

New Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell missed Saturday’s Green-White game due to a sprained right knee, but Mark Dantonio and company know what they have in their junior signal-caller. Maxwell, who spent the past two seasons as Kirk Cousins’ backup, is a sharp product who understands the game and his role — just like his predecessor. In nine game career games, Maxwell has completed 29 of 51 passes (57 percent) for 294 yards and one touchdown. Watch our feature with the Spartans’ new quarterback now and see a sideline interview with him from Saturday’s spring game. Talking spring football, all

Spring Game Central: Wisconsin

Wisconsin played its annual spring game Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, and while several key Badgers were on the sidelines, including stars Montee Ball and Chris Borland, it still looked strong. Watch highlights now and see our sideline interviews with Ball, Borland and former wide receiver Nick Toon, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the NFL draft, in this post. Also, see what senior writer Tom Dienhart learned from Saturday’s action and check out some of the best in-game tweets. You can watch the game again at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on BTN. Here’s what Dienhart

Spring Game Central: Michigan State

The Michigan State football team held its annual spring game Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium. It was an entertaining and insightful day in East Lansing, Mich., as Mark Dantonio gave BTN an all-access pass to the scrimmage. Watch now as Lisa Byington was allowed into the Michigan State huddle, plus get interviews and highlights from Saturday’s 14-2 decision in this post. Also, see what senior writer Tom Dienhart learned from the spring game and read some of the best tweets that were sent out during the action. Here’s what Dienhart learned from the White beating the Green, 14-2: Backup