Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 20, 2015

Big win for Purdue on Thursday night, moving the Boilermakers to 10-4 in the Big Ten and a step closer to an NCAA bid. This filled a glaring gap on Purdue?s resume: a big road triumph. Making the Big Dance seemed a remote possibility in December, when the Boilermakers lost at home to North Florida and Gardner-Webb.

Now, Purdue is rolling, winners of seven of eight games-and it just may be the second-best team in the Big Ten. Wow. A commitment to defense-plus a steely resolve-has been key. Read the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel here.


Michigan kicks off spring practice Feb. 24, the first Big Ten school to break out the neck rolls and J-pads. And, all eyes will be on the quarterback situation.

Shane Morris? Alex Malzone? Wilton Speight? Who will it be? Bueller? Stud freshman Zach Gentry arrives in the fall. Houston transfer John O?Korn is around but not eligible.

"There are five quarterbacks here now (including walk-ons), they're all training, they're all lifting, they're all getting ready for spring football, and it will be a lot of fun," Jim Harbaugh said. "Guys will compete. There will be scrimmages, there will be 7-on-7, there will be team drills and 11-on-11 football will be the most important.

"Who moves the team the best, who avoids turnovers, who takes care of the football, who can rally his team. All that will be played out on the football field. It will be a meritocracy at its best."


Remember the hub-bub Ohio State caused last year over pricing for its spring football game with an initial $20 charge? Woof! (The price later was reduced to $5.) Well, this year?s ?game? will only set you back $5-about the cost for a bag of churros at the old Comiskey Park.

"We overpriced it," athletic director Gene Smith told Northeast Ohio Media Group then.

Truth be told, there should be no charge for these spring games. Instead, schools should make them charitable fund-raisers. Schools can make their cash in the fall. Let fans enjoy the spring-and a charity make some money and get some exposure. Give something back in the spring, schools. C?mon.


In its never-ending quest to cover every nook and cranny of sports, Athlon?s takes a look at 10 quarterbacks who are on the rise in 2015. No Big Ten players here. But Rutgers? Hayden Rettig and Northwestern?s Clayton Thorson earn a mention in ?others to watch.?

I am intrigued by both, especially Rettig, who is a LSU transfer.


I was shocked to see Maryland and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart part ways, and I?ll just leave it at that. Stewart had inked a multi-year extension in January 2014 and was a popular assistant.

Maryland finished 12th in the Big Ten in total defense and rushing defense in 2014, and was 13th in pass defense under Stewart?s blitz-heavy 3-4 scheme.


Dan Duggan of has ranked the Top 10 NFL Combine performances for Rutgers players–ever. This is incredible. I know you felt no such article existed. But, it does!


Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff gets a lot of hype. And, rightly so. The guy is a beast, an all-time Hawkeye great who won the Outland Trophy. But Hawkeye right tackle Andrew Donnal isn?t too bad, either. What?s funny is Donnal arrived as the more-hyped recruit. Remember, Scherff was a high school quarterback.


Mike ?He-Has-Good-Change-of-Direction-But-Stiff-Hips? Mayock says most teams will ?not even deal with? Michigan?s Frank Clark.

The former Wolverine defensive end faces domestic violence and assault charges for which he was booted from the team last year.

"I think it's going to affect Frank Clark to the point where he doesn't get drafted," Mayock said. "Unfortunately in our world, the more talent you have physically, the more rope we give you and I think if he was a first-round prospect people would try to keep him alive longer. But because he's kind of a mid- to late-(round) prospect, I think most teams are just going, let's not even deal with it.' "

Well shall see. It?s easy to say those things in February from Mayock?s perch. But when push comes to shove, Clark can play. And pass rushers are cherished commodities. I bet some team drafts him.

*** has your five spring storylines for Northwestern. I love these guys.

No. 1? Do you have to ask? It?s quarterback. (See Clayton Thorson, link to story above.)


Michigan State?s Travis Trice is settling into a new role off the bench and off the ball. This guy is a team player. Gotta love it.

Freshman Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn has taken on Trice's starting point guard role for three wins, a lineup change expected to continue for the time being. Coming off the bench is the most obvious change to Trice's role, points out. Less obvious is the amount of time Trice is playing at shooting guard instead of a point guard — a change that allows Michigan State to better use Trice's offensive capabilities. MSU could be peaking at just the right time. You know what I mean?


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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