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80 Reasons to Love the Big Ten - Nos. 59-54

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No. 59 - Warming Holes

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One of things that punctuates a college town is its bars.  I'm not talking about the soul-less gravel gardens with plastic longnecks, and watery well drinks, but rather, the establishments that trade cover charges for comfortable sofas, and image for identity. 

While Big Ten country is peppered with these kinds of low-key warming holes, here's a few you gotta love:

- The Dinkytowner  (Minneapolis, MN): Devilishly comfortable Red vinyl seats, and walk on pool tables, make this high octane basement lounge an essential last stop on Friday nights in the fall.

- Grizzly Peak (Ann Arbor, MI): Martini's and microbrews mesh in this down to earth destination.

- Nickelodeon (Iowa City, IO): PBR on draft and a jukebox. 

- Bier Stube (Columbus, OH): Dressed up like an old Cigarette vending machine this green Tudor dive has a small screen T.V. and the cheapest draft prices I've ever seen.  It's a great place to swing by to check the third quarter score of the Notre Dame game on the walk from Ohio Stadium back to your place.

No. 58 - The Great Dayne

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Wisconsin's Ron Dayne holds the NCAA Career Rushing record with 7,125 yards.  This three time all-American also won the Hesiman Trophy his senior season in 1999.  As Wikpedia reports:

Dayne is usually considered one of the greatest backs in NCAA football history. Known as "The Great Dayne" and "The Dayne Train" throughout college, Dayne was the starting running back all four years at Wisconsin. Never a flashy or boisterous player, Dayne was a workman-like back, expected to carry the ball as much as necessary - he had 1,220 carries during his career.

Over his four seasons, Dayne chased the NCAA Division I-A rushing record for total yards in a career. He gained 1,863 yards as a freshman, 1,421 as a sophomore, 1,325 as a junior, and 1,834 as a senior. He finally broke the record in the final game of the 1999 season against Iowa.

Dayne is one of only five NCAA players to rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons.

No. 57 - Big Houses

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Only four stadiums in the nation seat more than 100,000.  Three of 'em are in the Big Ten.  The largest (Penn State's Beaver Stadium, 107,282), the second largest* (Michigan Stadium, 106,201), and the third largest (Ohio Stadium, 102,329) loom over parking lots in the great Midwest.

Dragons of steel, concrete -- grand architraves, and history, these premiere venues are unrivaled in sheer volume.

As Maize n Brew describes it, if you want to piss off an SEC fan, "ask why their stadiums are so small."

* The Big House will return to its throne as the largest in the land following rennovations in 2010.

No. 56 - BW3s

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Officially branded as Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck (a.k.a. "B-Dubs"), Columbus' infamous wings joint puts a sweet spin on a football favorite.  Extra crispy drumsticks and flats sing in any of fourteen signature sauces.  TRE recommends Teriyaki, Parmesan Garlic, Spicy Garlic, and Mango Habanero.  The reincarnation of the original High Street location, stands at High and Lane, a three-story brick and glass fortress with almost as many flat-screens as patrons, and open-air rooftop seating.

Call ahead and take them back to the couch in time for Saturday Night Football.

No. 55 - Hayden Fry

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Like any good hardass, Hayden Fry was Texas royalty turned tumbleweed.  As the College Football Hall of Fame describes:

...Fry is remembered for more than his dark glasses and square jaw. When he retired, his 232 wins placed him tenth on the all-time list. Fry is best known for sparking a resurgence at Iowa, where his teams were 143-89-6 over 20 seasons. In 1981, he coached the Hawkeyes to their first winning season in 19 years with a Big-Ten co-championship and a birth in the Rose Bowl, the school's first bowl appearance in 23 years. Fry won two other Big Ten titles, sending the Hawkeyes to Pasadena. At Iowa, he had ten ranked teams and made 14 bowl appearances.

No. 54 - Big Stage

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In a game that's all about exposure the Big Ten owns or shares 7 of the 25 largest media markets in the United States, including No. 3 Chicago, No. 4 Philadelphia, No. 11 Detroit, No. 15 Minneapolis, No. 17 Cleveland, No. 25 Pittsburgh, and No. 25 Indianapolis.  In total, Big Ten broadcasts reach 21,998,720 metropolitian households.

By comparsion, the Pac Ten is prominent in 6 top 25 markets (East Coast bias?), the ACC lives in 5, the Big 12 plays to 4, and the Big East and the SEC net 3.