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BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart takes a look at teams from the Big Ten West that Big Ten East clubs will miss in 2016.
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In week 4 of the 2016 football season, the Big Ten takes the lid off conference action. This season each team plays nine Big Ten games during the season for the first time since 1984. On this weekend, four leagues games are on the docket as the race to the 2016 title begins. BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart delivers his fourth in a series of weekly looks at the upcoming 2016 football season.
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Ohio State at Oklahoma. Michigan State at Notre Dame. Oregon at Nebraska. Week 3 of the 2016 football season is packed with a lot of great games. Tom Dienhart breaks it down in his latest schedule analysis.
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Thirteen schools are in action. And there are some top matches on deck in the second week of action highlighted by two rivalry games.
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Not a lot of pizzazz in the first week of the season, as all 14 teams are in action over a three-day period. But there is one marquee clash: LSU vs. Wisconsin at iconic Lambeau Field.
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The debut for Paul Chryst was a success, as Wisconsin posted a 10-win season capped by a nice bowl win vs. USC. But the Badgers failed to win the West despite playing a favorable Big Ten schedule. Now, the schedule flips on Wisconsin, which has one of the most challenging slates in the nation.
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Rutgers is looking for a new start. And, it’s getting just that with the arrival of Chris Ash, who continues to put his stamp on the program after taking over for Kyle Flood.
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Purdue is looking for a breakthrough in its fourth season under Darrell Hazell.
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This is a big season for James Franklin, who has done a lot of good things his first two years in State College. But he’s just 14-12 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten. And Penn State finished last season with four consecutive losses. The roster is now mostly full of his players and he has tweaked his staff. Will this lead to the Nittany Lions moving up the ladder in the rugged Big Ten East? A tough schedule looms, which only complicates matters.
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Ohio State is eager and ready to get back on top of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes won the national championship in 2014 and looked primed to repeat in 2015, but the coaching staff’s bungled handling of the quarterback situation proved ruinous for a team that had a national-best 12 NFL draft picks.
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Northwestern is coming off a stellar season that saw the Wildcats win 10 games. And NU is thinking big in 2016 as it looks to win what looks like a wide-open Big Ten West. And, it just may happen, as this could be Pat Fitzgerald’s most talented team yet. But it faces a daunting schedule that offers little relief.
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The 2015 season didn’t go as scripted for Minnesota. Jerry Kill abruptly retired and the Gophers finished with their first losing record since 2012.
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The honeymoon is over for Mike Riley. He knows that. Last year’s 6-7 debut was difficult to stomach, as the Huskers seemed to find a new way to lose each week. But on an up note, Nebraska finished with some momentum, going 3-1 in its last four games with a bowl win vs. UCLA in an otherwise vexing season.
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Michigan State is the defending Big Ten champ, coming off its first playoff appearance. This program is rolling. But, some big personnel issues are staring at Mark Dantonio as he begins his 10th season in East Lansing.
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Jim Harbaugh enjoyed a smashing debut in 2015, posting 10 wins. And, his second Michigan squad has a good chance for success thanks to plenty of returning talent and another year of familiarity with the system.
Maryland is looking to get back on the bowl track under first-year coach DJ Durkin. But, a tough schedule could make that goal difficult for a team that has installed new schemes on both sides of the ball with some key personnel spots to fill.
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What can Iowa do for an encore to last year’s stunning success? The Hawkeyes raced to a school-record 12-0 start before losing their final two games of the season in falling in the Big Ten title tilt and the Rose Bowl. It will be difficult to top that this fall, but the schedule is built for success a season after having another favorable schedule.
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Indiana enjoyed a breakthrough last year, earning its first bowl since 2007. Now, the Hoosiers are aiming at playing in a bowl in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1990-91. IU finished 6-7, but two of its losses came in OT: to Michigan in double OT and vs. Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl. So, Kevin Wilson’s crew knows it can hang with most any team. Now, it’s time to take the next step and earn some signature wins in addition to another postseason trip, as IU hasn’t won a bowl since dumping Baylor in the 1991 Copper Bowl.
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Tumult has defined Illinois in the last 10 months. The program is on its third head coach in less than a year as the Fighting Illini search for just their fourth bowl since 2007. But hope is running over with the hiring by new A.D. Josh Whitman, who subsequently tabbed former NFL coach Lovie Smith to run the program.
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AthlonSports.com has a very early football Top 25 for 2016. Yes, you knew it was coming because they come every year and we roll our eyes at them and then read them anyway because they’re fun to talk about. The national title game for this season hasn’t even been played and college players still can declare for the NFL draft until Jan. 18. Regardless, early, early, early Top 25 lists wait for no one.
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Not all Big Ten conference schedules are created equally. And, that doesn’t make for a fair and level playing field when it comes to crowning a conference champion. But, no one said life is fair.
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It’s time for my top 10 Big Ten league games.
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Yesterday, I started my three-part series of ranking all 56 Big Ten league games, with games 56-31.
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It was a thankless task, but someone had to do it. Someone had to take a stab at ranking each and every Big Ten league game—all 56–in 2015.
BTN: Matt Mittelstadt
We all have dream vacations. Some of us would like to go to Aruba. Others to Spain, Australia or perhaps Japan. All good choices. But no trip could possibly top this dream junket through the 2015 Big Ten schedule.