Big Ten Legends Division team-by-team capsules

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2012 - 2:17 AM
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Quarterback Denard Robinson is back to guide the Michigan offense.

Photo: Tony Ding, Associated Press

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Listed in predicted order of finish by Star Tribune college football writer Phil Miller

MICHIGAN STATE

Coach: Mark Dantonio, 62-39 overall in eight years; 44-22 in five years at MSU

2011: 11-3 (7-1 in Big Ten), lost 42-39 to Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship Game, defeated Georgia 33-30 (3OT) in Outback Bowl

Returning starters: Five offense, eight defense

Most Important Player: Defensive end William Gholston is big, fast and aggressive, and personifies what should be the Big Ten's most ferocious defense.

Outlook: The Spartans' grind-it-out style, emphasizing punishing defense and running the ball, might not be pretty, but there's no arguing with the results. This might be the Spartans' year, depending upon how quickly quarterback Andrew Maxwell learns his just-don't-kill-us role. Dantonio has raised Michigan State to elite status; can the Spartans stay there?

MICHIGAN

Coach: Brady Hoke, 58-52 overall in nine years; 11-2 in one year at Michigan

2011: 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten), defeated Virginia Tech 23-20 (OT) in Sugar Bowl

Returning starters: Six offense, seven defense

Most Important Player: Hoke managed to harness Denard Robinson's habit of running; now he needs to cut down on his habit of throwing interceptions, 15 last year.

Outlook: Hoke's first year in Ann Arbor was such an enormous success, expectations might be outstripping the talent level -- for now. But given his recruiting haul, there is little doubt that the Wolverines' title drought -- they haven't finished atop the Big Ten since 2004 -- will end soon. The league's toughest schedule, starting with Alabama in the opener, might be too much, even for the Big Ten's most electrifying Shoelace.

NEBRASKA

Coach: Bo Pelini, 39-16 in four years, all at Nebraska

2011: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten), lost 30-13 to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl

Returning starters: Eight offense, seven defense

Most Important Player: Rex Burkhead is listed as an I-back, but he does far more than run the ball. He's a superb blocker, pass-catcher, and even can quarterback the Wildcat offense.

Outlook: Yeah, the Big Ten was a little tougher than the Huskers thought, particularly stopping those offenses. Nebraska should score plenty, even though nobody in Lincoln seems to have much faith in quarterback Taylor Martinez. But saying goodbye to Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick on defense means improvement in a below-average defense is no given.

NORTHWESTERN

Coach: Pat Fitzgerald, 40-36 in six years, all at Northwestern

2011: 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten), lost 33-22 to Texas A&M in Meineke Car Care Bowl

Returning starters: Five offense, seven defense

Most Important Player: Ibraheim Campbell made 100 tackles at safety last year, and now is the lone veteran in a rebuilt secondary.

Outlook: The Wildcats' record has declined by one victory in each of the past three seasons, but Kain Colter throwing to what might be the conference's deepest receiving corps appears poised to interrupt that trend. It's clear that Fitzgerald has raised the talent level of his program, but the defense surrenders too many big plays -- and gave up 30 or more points in five consecutive games last year -- to take the Wildcats seriously as a top-of-the-standings contender.

IOWA

Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 108-87 overall in 16 years; 96-66 in 13 years at Iowa

2011: 7-6 (4-4 Big Ten), lost 31-14 to Oklahoma in Insight Bowl

Returning starters: Six offense, five defense

Most Important Player: He doesn't get the acclaim of some other Big Ten quarterbacks, but James Vandenberg quietly piled up 232.5 passing yards per game last year, third most in the conference.

Outlook: Two new coordinators for the first time in a generation have brought new energy to Iowa City. But changes take time, and a defense that was picked apart unmercifully by opposing quarterbacks last year needs an overhaul. The Hawkeyes should be dangerous with the ball, but they appear destined to lose some high-scoring games.

GOPHERS

Coach: Jerry Kill, 130-82 overall in 18 years; 3-9 in one year at Minnesota

2011: 3-9 (2-6 Big Ten)

Returning starters: Seven offense, six defense

Most Important Player: MarQueis Gray is undoubtedly Minnesota's biggest offensive weapon, but the Gophers need him to power the offense with his arm this year, not his legs.

Outlook: The roster still teems with underclassmen, and the Gophers lost their leading receiver, their best rushing tailback, and their top two tacklers. Yet there is far more optimism about a breakthrough than a year ago. If Gray's apparent improvement as a passer is real, they could surprise a few opponents. And with a cushy nonconference schedule, a bowl game isn't out of the question.

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Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
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Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
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Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
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Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 2nd Half 0:54
Tulane 54
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Louisiana 1:00 PM
Alcorn State
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Denver 59 2nd Half 1:51
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 17 2nd Half 15:49
Central Arkansas 45
Texas State 22 2nd Half
Bethune-Cookman 8
Albany 3:00 PM
Pepperdine
TX-San Antonio 3:00 PM
Houston
Yale 3:30 PM
Bucknell
Northern Colorado 3:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Belmont 4:00 PM
Mercer
Massachusetts 4:00 PM
Georgia State
George Mason 4:05 PM
Winthrop
Portland State 4:30 PM
Princeton
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
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