In my latest Big Ten schedule analysis post, I take a look at the Penn State Nittany Lions, which are under the direction of a new coach for the first time since 1966. What will be Penn State’s toughest non-conference and conference games? Where is the schedule seemingly easiest, and then when does it get really rugged? Go ahead and guess which game I call their “must win” game, then read the rest of this post and see what I picked.
Is there a conference with a better collection of running backs than the Big Ten? Maybe not. The group instantly became one of the best in the nation when Wisconsin’s Montee Ball announced he would return for his senior season. Add it all up, and 12 of last season’s top 13 rushers are back. The only departure: Iowa’s Marcus Coker, who transferred to FCS Stony Brook after ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,384 yards in 2012.
It’s time to turn our attention to Ohio State in my schedule analysis series, as I take a closer look at the 2012 football schedule for the Buckeyes. My previous schedule analysis posts are still available as we’ve now covered Illinois through Ohio State. The rest come out this week. Agree or disagree with any of my assessments? Come tell me in the comments section, or find me on Twitter and Facebook. See my Ohio State analysis in this post.
On Tuesday, the College Football Hall of Fame will announce its latest round of enshrinees. And three Nebraska players are on the ballot: quarterbacks Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier, along with linebacker Trev Alberts. Crouch likely won’t make it since this is his first time on the ballot. But Frazier appears to have a good shot. In fact, I am flummoxed by the fact he didn’t make it last year. Just a shameful omission, as detailed by the Lincoln Journal Star’s Brian Christopherson.
Now I turn my attention to Northwestern as I take a closer look at the 2012 football schedule for the Wildcats. They’ve got two challenging home games and a back-to-back set on the road that rivals any two-game stretch in the Big Ten. I circle the game on the calendar that could be the toughest and easiest for Pat Fitzgerald and his team this fall.
The Big Ten will be bolstered by the return of nine starting quarterbacks in 2012. The only schools breaking in new starters under center are Michigan State (Kirk Cousins gone), Northwestern (Dan Persa gone) and Wisconsin (Russell Wilson gone). Without a doubt here, Michigan’s Denard Robinson looks like the top quarterback in the league. Could he become the first Big Ten quarterback to win the Heisman since Ohio State’s Troy Smith turned the trick in 2006?
Michigan was one of the nation’s most surprising teams last season under first-year coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines finished 11-2, capping the remarkable season with a Sugar Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech. Some of the credit for Hoke’s remarkable debut has to go to offensive coordinator Al Borges.
On one hand, he’s often the most popular player on campus. On the other hand, you may not even know his name. He’s the backup quarterback. If he’s pressed into duty, it usually means one of two things: 1. The starter got hurt. 2. The starter was, ahem, ineffective. Knowing all this, it’s time for you to get to know your school’s No. 2 signal-caller. Here’s is how I rank ‘em.
Jerry Kill enters his second year as Minnesota’s head football coach and the challenges of the 2012 season are clear. What is one must-win game? When could the Gophers possibly pull off an upset? What could be the bumpiest stretch for Kill and Company? I lay it out here in my latest team-specific schedule analysis.
Should computers have anything to do with college football rankings? Who cracked the post-spring football rankings? Our colleagues at ESPN.com are posing a buzz-worthy question about the next Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten – for now. Is it William Gholston? John Simon? Gerald Hodges? Someone else?
What is buzzing in Big Ten football circles? Keep reading and clicking your mouse, but here’s one question to ponder: Is Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg one of the best offensive players in the Big Ten? Hmmm.
When it comes to fabulously famous tandems, there have been many over the years. TV’s Captain Kirk and Spock. Literature and film’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. You see where I’m going. Each individual helps make the duo’s value greater than just the sum of their parts. What are the best tandems in the Big Ten? Glad you asked.
The latest in my series examining the 2012 football schedules: Michigan. Previously, I covered Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Find them all right here now and moving forward
Michigan State is one of the hottest programs in the Big Ten—if not the nation. And the Spartans can thank Mark Dantonio. Since arriving from Cincinnati to assume command in 2007, Dantonio has forged a 44-22 record in six seasons, including a 27-13 mark in the Big Ten. And each season, Michigan State has gone to a bowl, highlighted by a win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl after last season. Dantonio also beat rival Michigan for a fourth consecutive season in 2011, forever endearing him to Spartan fans.
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.
What’s going on around the Big Ten football landscape today? BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart links you to Wednesday’s best Big Ten headlines in this post.
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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 BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart’s latest daily links.
Yesterday, BTN.com 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.
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.
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, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart compiles his All-Big Ten Undrafted Team.
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.
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.
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 BTN.com 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.
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 BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart learned from the spring game and read some of the best tweets that were sent out during the action.