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Big Ten West can’t match the star power and proven ability of its East Division counterpart. But there still is plenty of talent—and potential. And it all begins with a monster tackle tandem at Nebraska.
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The Big Ten East has some strong defensive lines. And none is stronger than Michigan State’s front, led by end Shilique Calhoun. Ohio State has perhaps the Big Ten’s best player on its line in end Joey Bosa.
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Quarterback questions loom at Northwestern and Purdue. And the jury is out on Iowa’s C.J. Beathard and Illinois’ Wes Lunt Still, there is a lot to like about some of the backfields in the Big Ten West.
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The Big Ten East is home to two of the conference’s top backfields at Ohio State and Michigan State. In fact, the Buckeye backfield may be the best in the nation. Quarterback issues loom at Michigan, Rutgers and Maryland, while Penn State, Indiana, Michigan and MSU need to solidify their running back spots.
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Yesterday, we took a look at the Big Ten East receivers and tight ends. Now, we’ll check out the Big Ten West, where the jury remains out on several corps.
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The Big Ten East lost some very nice wide receiver and tight end talent to the NFL, but plenty of talented pass-catchers return. Check out Tom Dienhart’s full ranking.
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The unit rankings continue with a look at the offensive lines in the Big Ten West. And it all begins with Minnesota—yes, Minnesota.
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It all begins up front. Any coach will tell you that. If your school doesn’t have a good offensive line, it has little chance for consistent success—no matter how good the skill-position talent is.
Our BTN tour bus stopped in Madison, Wis., Friday to take in Wisconsin camp. While watching practice, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart sent out the following tweet about Wisconsin’s talented running back duo.
He’s often one of the most popular men on campus. Fans often clamor to see him buckle his chinstrap and trot onto the field: He’s the backup quarterback. When an offense is struggling, the No. 2 signal-caller is a favorite. Who is your school’s backup quarterback? How confident should you be in him? Get my ranking in this post.
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Specials teams are often the overlooked area of teams, but they’re the essential third component that can make or break a game or a season. That big return, booming punt that flips the field or clutch last-second field goal often looms large in any game. Here’s a look at the Big Ten special teams units.
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Few schools have played defense as well as Michigan State in recent years. And a big reason for the success has been the secondary, a unit known for its aggressive, press-man coverage. MSU will have another talented secondary in 2014. In fact, it will be the best in the conference. Here’s a look at Big Ten defensive backfields.
Linebackers are the heart and soul of any good defense. Speed, strength, athletic ability, toughness … they must embody all of it. And no Big Ten team has a better collection of linebackers than Nebraska.
The Big Ten unit rankings continue with a look at the defensive lines. And, there are three standout fronts in the league, paced by Ohio State. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the best d-line in the nation.
I continue my Big Ten unit rankings with a look at the receiving/tight end corps. There is no shortage of good targets, with Big Ten newcomer Maryland featuring a monster collection of pass-catchers.
Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you games are won in the trenches. So, that means teams ranked highly on this list should be in store for good seasons, right?
The dog days of summer are settling in. That means two things: The Cubs’ season is officially over, and it’s time to look at the Big Ten units. I’ll begin with a look at the offensive backfields. And, as you’ll see, there is a lot of talent at running back—as well as some top-flight quarterbacks.
Often, the most popular player on campus is the backup quarterback. The guy holding the clipboard and wearing a baseball cap typically is perceived as being the answer to every struggling offense. On that note, here’s my ranking of the Big Ten backup quarterback situations.
There are some nice defensive backfields in the Big Ten. And none is better than Ohio State’s. In fact, the Buckeyes may have the top secondary in the nation, which is one of many reasons why Ohio State is a legit national title contender. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten defensive backfields.
The last two seasons, no Big Ten defense has played as well as Michigan State’s. A big reason for that has been the play of the linebackers. And that unit should continue to excel and be the bellwether of the conference’s linebacking corps in 2013. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten linebacking units.
The biggest difference between the SEC and Big Ten isn’t speed at the skill-positions on offense. Nope. It’s on defense—along the line, in particular. The Big Ten has some big fellas who can make plays and get up the field—just not the depth and breadth of the SEC. But, the situation is improving. Here is my ranking of the Big Ten defensive lines.
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It all begins up front. Ask any coach. Without good blockers, skill talent is diminished—and offenses flounder. The Big Ten has some potentially strong blocking units, which has hopes high in several precincts. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten offensive lines, starting with two of the conference’s biggest powerhouse programs.
When you think of Nebraska, you don’t typically think of receivers. You think ground-pounding offenses that play physical football behind big lines and star running backs. Well, this year’s edition of the Cornhuskers has some very good receivers. In fact, it’s the best collection in the Big Ten. Here’s my ranking of the Big Ten receiving units.
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The Big Ten lost its top two rushers in Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. And Nebraska standout Rex Burkhead also is gone. But most of the conference’s other top running backs are back. Here is how I rank the Big Ten running back units, and it’s my latest look at how the various football teams units stack up by position. Read the others right here. Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments below, email me about here, or track me down on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart).
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Quarterback play hasn’t been at an elite level in the Big Ten in recent years. In fact, many feel that’s one reason for the conference’s struggles. But this year’s collection of passers teems with potential.