Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 30, 2012

It's the Monday following Big Ten Media Days, we're getting closer and closer to the college football season, so there's plenty of terrific Big Ten web links from around the web. Get all of Monday's top clicks in this post.

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I have said on many occasions that I think Ohio State may end up with the best record in the Big Ten. And this is one of the reasons why.

Not only are the Buckeyes uber-talented, but they also will be a motivated team knowing the regular season is all they have to play for. But, in the end, that may be plenty.

IN PLACE OF FITZ: At Big Ten media days last week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke was noncommittal concerning the duration of star running back Fitz Toussaint?s suspension following his arrest this summer for DUI. Not having the 1,000-yard rusher for an extended period would be a big blow, especially in the season opener vs. defending national champion Alabama. So, with it looking more likely that Toussaint may not play in the season opener, who would fill in at running back?

No doubt, the staff likes sophomores Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes, along with senior Vincent Smith. All are decent, but none are Toussaint. Rawls is big and physical but lacks a burst; Hayes is fast but unproven; Smith is a smallish back more suited for situational running. Bottom line: No one can replace Toussaint.

THE NEW SPARTAN LEADER: One of Michigan State?s biggest worries: replacing the leadership of departed quarterback Kirk Cousins. Well, have no fear, Spartan fans. The new leader could be linebacker Chris Norman, a senior who is entering his third season as a starter.

And, it makes sense for MSU?s leader to be on defense, since that figures to be the team?s strength in 2012.

One of the biggest questions for Michigan State: receiver. The Spartans have lost the likes of B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol. The team will spend much of upcoming camp sorting through the position as it looks for targets for new quarterback Andrew Maxwell.

Mark Dantonio says 10-12 players will be competing for spots. Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery are the lone proven commodities, but expect some youngsters-Andre Sims–to play big roles along with Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett. Dantonio compares the wideout situation to 2008, when Cunningham was a redshirt freshman, Martin was a true freshman and Mark Dell was a sophomore.

In the end, I think the Spartans will be just fine at wideout. So, stop the hand-wringing.

HONORING MICHIGAN LEGENDS: Cool concept by Michigan to honor legends by having current players wear their numbers. Four Wolverine legends will be so honored in 2012. One is Desmond Howard whose No. 21 will be worn by Roy Roundtree this fall. But no word on the other three Michigan legends to be honored. The school has announced it would be un-retiring and recirculating Ron Kramer's No. 87, Gerald Ford's No. 48 and Bennie Oosterbaan's No. 47 beginning this fall.

Who will wear those numbers? I wish more schools would do stuff like this.

ALL ABOUT BALL: Do you know about the little secret of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball? Check out this video.

Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a nice Q&A with second-year Golden Gopher coach Jerry Kill.

KILL Q&A: For Kill, it?s all about overcoming adversity. The good news: He?s good at it.

GOOD NEWS IN HAPPY VALLEY: With each passing day, it seems any attrition Penn State may experience may be minimal-and that includes the 2013 recruits.

Bill O?Brien met with six key committed players–Christian Hackenberg, Adam Breneman, Brendan Mahon, Garrett Sickels, Andrew Nelson and Will Fuller–on Saturday and they all apparently like what they heard about the NCAA sanctions and the future of the program. The Nittany Lion class currently is ranked No. 16 in the nation by

This may end up being the biggest victory Penn State scores all season.

SEEING RED: Is the fever and passion of Nebraska fans too much for Bo Pelini?

Instead of fighting the spotlight, Tom Shatel of the Omaha World News says Pelini should embrace it. Shatel says Pelini needs to manage the noise-and the team.

BIG TEN DARK HORSE: The great Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette has a dark horse in the Big Ten. Are you ready? It?s ? Purdue. It?s true. If Tate is right, the Boilermakers may challenge for the Big Ten for the first time since 2004. Do you remember 2004? Neither do I.

TOP OFFENSIVE THREATS: Who is the Big Ten?s top offensive players? Denard Robinson? Montee Ball? Someone else? Good question. The Wisconsin State Journal asked several Big Ten players at media days in this video. Check it out.

SINGIN' AT WRIGLEY: Watch and listen to Illinois coach Tim Beckman sing ?Take me out to the ball game? at Wrigley Field. Warning: You may want to cover your ears. Just sayin?.


My take: Can?t say this is a shock. But, LSU? Does Bolden really think he?ll play there? The first two pieces of equipment issued to Bolden will be a ball cap and clipboard.

My take: You see, not everyone is negative about the Iowa running back situation. senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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