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Dienhart: Ranking 2012's Big Ten QBs

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? Let’s fire up the debate. Following is my ranking of each Big Ten quarterback who is projected to start in 2012. 1. Denard Robinson,

Big Ten Q&A: Michigan's Al Borges

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. This week I caught up with Borges  to ask him—among other things–about quarterback Denard Robinson, how Devin Gardner will be used and to compare the SEC and Big Ten. It’ the latest in my series of one-on-one interviews, which have included Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson, and Michigan State’s Mark

Let's Rank 2012's Big Ten Backup QBs

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. It’s the latest of my Big Ten off-season rankings. We’re having fun with these and the fans are giving me an earful. Come back Friday when I rank the

Analyzing Minnesota's 2012 schedule

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. Have a look at my previous posts – we’ve now done Illinois through Minnesota alphabetically. The rest come out in the coming days. And tell me what you think about the Gophers’ schedule in the comments section, or come tell me on Twitter and Facebook.

Catch Up With Wednesday's News Links

Should computers have anything to do with college football rankings? Who cracked the post-spring football rankings? Our colleagues at 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? These  are the headlines around Big Ten football on this Wednesday. Come on into this post and read all about it. Rise of the Machines: Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez doesn’t want computers to be part of the equation when it comes to determining which teams would participate in a college

Tuesday Links: Who Shines on Offense in 2012?

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. It’s a question posed by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg on his Big Ten blog and addressed by Mike Hlas at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Rittenberg wonders which players are capable of challenging Wisconsin running back Montee Ball for top offensive honors. In addition to Vandenberg, Rittenberg likes Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead and Penn State running back Silas Redd. Who are

Dienhart: Ranking My Top Big Ten Tandems

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. Here are my picks for top dynamic duos at each position – with a curve ball at one spot – heading into 2012. Agree or disagree? If you missed my earlier posts, I’ve been spending

Analyzing Michigan's 2012 Schedule

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 Toughest non-conference game? Toughest Big Ten game? Upset alerts? I look at those and other categories because it’s never too early to talk about next fall. Feel free to leave me your own take on these schedules in the comments section, or come tell me on Twitter and Facebook. Toughest non-conference game: There will be no dipping of the big toe in the water for Michigan. Instead, the Wolverines will dive right into

Dienhart: Q&A with Michigan State's Dantonio

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. I caught up with the Spartan boss a few days after

Dienhart: Analyzing Indiana's 2012 Schedule

I continue to take a closer look at each Big Ten football team’s schedule, and this time I’m diving into Indiana’s 2012 campaign, the second one under Kevin Wilson. Previously, I wrote about Illinois, and as we roll these out you can find them in my Big Ten Football Schedule Analysis series. Toughest non-conference game? Toughest Big Ten game? Upset alerts? I touch on these and other categories because it’s never too early to talk about next fall. Feel free to leave me your own take on these schedules in the comments section, or come tell me on Twitter and