Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, August 5, 2016

Believe the hype about Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell-at least that?s what his teammates and coaches say.

"I think that this is the year that sort of catapults him," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said last week at Big Ten media days. "So he's got to have a great year and I think he's poised to do that."

The hype around McDowell is reaching massive levels. I wonder if he can live up to it. Gonna be difficult.

And then there is this from LB Riley Bullough.

"If you just walk in the room with Malik you'll see he's a freak, and that shows on the football field," Bullough said. "I'm extremely excited for him this year."

*** has a good player survey in which it asked nine different players from nine different schools what is their toughest Big Ten environment. Lots of Michigan and Ohio State answers. No shock. Twenty years from now, the answers will be largely the same.


And check this out: notes that Rutgers is busing to camp on its Livingston campus. Why?

"I don't want us to practice on turf fields every day," first-year coach Chris Ash said. "It's not good for the body. We needed to get (the grass fields) fixed and repaired, so we're doing some maintenance work to them."

Like many of the changes he has made at Rutgers, Ash's plan is based off what has worked most efficiently at his previous stops.

"It's a little bit different than what they've done," Ash said, "but it's stuff that we've done at other places I've been."


I am eager to see the new Penn State offense under coordinator Joe Moorhead. The attack is supposed to operate at a quick pace. It should be fun, especially with some of the personnel that is on hand in State College. Bob Flounders of takes a deep dive into the offense we will see.

The Lions scored just 23.2 points per game in 2015 (101st in FBS out of 27 teams), an average just slightly better than 2014 (20.6 ppg., 110th out of 125). Moorhead needs to flip that script if Penn State wants to make a move in the rugged Big Ten East. He will have lots of skill talent. But a QB needs to emerge, and the line needs to emerge.


How does Ohio State plan to get the ball to Curtis Samuel? Urban Meyer has a plan. Samuel will get touches at running back, H-back ? in a lot of ways. Bottom line: He needs to tote the rock and be a difference maker.


If Charles Woodson says it, it must be true, right? And Woodson says Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers are players who can make a team great.

Woodson thinks the dynamic Wolverine duo is type of difference-makers who can turn a team from a contender to a title winner.

"Those are the things that can make a team great. Those are the type of things that can get you over the hump," Woodson says. "If you have a guy, where each week you can kind of change up your game plan a little bit depending on what an offense does — you can stick him anywhere. (With Peppers) you can put him at nickel, at the linebacker position at WILL or SAM or wherever. That can create a matchup that the offense isn't ready for.

"If you can do those type of things, man, and utilize a guy's talent in any way possible — and they can get it done without letting other parts of their games suffer — you've got a winning mix."
Could Michigan win the Big Ten East? Hmmmm. Maybe.


Who is gonna kick for Iowa? There is a record number of contenders. And it?s an often overlooked subject in Iowa City.

Kirk Ferentz is permitted to invite 105 players into camp. This year, specialists will gobble up eight spots. That?s a record under Ferentz?s 18 years of direction - by ?a landslide,? he said.

?Given our circumstances, we want to let it get a full exposure and let the thing play out. It could go through September, too,? Ferentz said at Big Ten media days. ?I hope it doesn?t. But we?ll do whatever we have to do to get the best guys out there.?

*** has everything that Northwestern will do this year that you?ll hate. This is some good, fun stuff. Enjoy, Willie! I did. It would be fun to see such a list for each school.

At the top of the list for NU: running an option to the short side of the field. That makes fans scratch their heads.


There are a lot of good receiving corps in the Big Ten-Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan. But what about Indiana?s receiving corps? It?s pretty darn good.

Zach Osterman of notes that Ricky Jones is part of a trio of returning wide receivers - Mitchell Paige and Simmie Cobbs are the other two - that accounted for 171 catches, 2,625 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. They were part of one of the most productive offenses in program history, a unit that became the first in more than two decades to lead the Big Ten in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense. When it?s all said and one, the Hoosiers may have the best wideouts in the Big Ten.


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