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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Oakland 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Kansas City 3
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 3 3rd Prd 6:05
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 2nd Prd 4:36
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 3rd Prd
St. Louis 2
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd
Dallas 0
Colorado 0 1st Prd 7:01
Calgary 0
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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