Chart: Big Ten Legends Division storylines

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2013 - 9:21 PM

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and his Wildcats finally got to celebrate a bowl victory last season. Now, they want more in 2013.

Photo: Stephen Morton, Associated Press

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The Leaders Division probably will turn into a two-team race between Ohio State and Wisconsin. They meet Sept. 28. The Legends Division could be a four-team scrum between Nebraska, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State. Michigan narrowly edged Nebraska as the division favorite in a preseason poll of 28 Big Ten writers.



There are six key matchups: Nov. 2 — Michigan at Michigan State, Northwestern at Nebraska; Nov. 9 — Nebraska at Michigan; Nov. 16 — Northwestern at Michigan, Michigan State at Nebraska; No. 23 — Michigan State at Northwestern.



Even after returning most of the firepower from last year’s 10-3 squad, Northwestern was picked to finished fourth in the media poll. But hard-fought losses against Nebraska (29-28) and Michigan (38-31) and a victory over Michigan State (23-20) last year proved the Wildcats can compete.



Michigan State won the Legends Division in 2011. The Spartans have enough talent on defense to stay in every game, and once they pick a quarterback, that player could gain confidence from this inviting October schedule: at Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, at Illinois.



The Leaders and Legends Divisions are going away after this season, as the Big Ten splits into East and West. The Gophers will be in the West with Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Purdue. The East will have Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, along with Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland.



In predicted order of finish by Star Tribune college football writer Joe Christensen



Coach: Bo Pelini, 49-20 in five seasons, sixth year at Nebraska.

2012: 10-4 (7-1 Big Ten), lost to Wisconsin 70-31 in Big Ten Championship Game, lost to Georgia 45-31 in Capital One Bowl.

Returning starters: Seven offense, four defense.

Key player: Nebraska’s run defense ranked 90th in the nation last year, but the pass defense actually ranked fourth, led by senior nickel back Ciante Evans.

Outlook: With five home games to start the season, followed by road games at Purdue and Minnesota, Nebraska has a chance to build serious momentum, especially if it can handle UCLA at home on Sept. 14. Pelini was a defensive coordinator before becoming the head coach so fixing that unit should be his specialty. Nebraska has won at least nine games each year under Pelini, but Cornhuskers fans demand more.



Coach: Brady Hoke, 66-57 overall in 10 seasons; third year at Michigan.

2012: 8-5 (6-2 Big Ten), lost to South Carolina 33-28 in Outback Bowl.

Returning starters: Five offense, five defense.

Key player: Left tackle Taylor Lewan was a projected top-15 NFL draft pick, and his return bolstered a line that lost its starting center and both guards to graduation.

Outlook: With the Denard Robinson era over, the Wolverines are returning to more of a pro-style offense with quarterback Devin Gardner, who showed big potential in five starts last year. Michigan also will unveil the nation’s top running back recruit, Derrick Green. The team’s leading tackler last season, linebacker Jake Ryan, tore an ACL in his knee during spring practice but is determined to return by mid-October.



Coach: Pat Fitzgerald, 50-39 overall in seven seasons; eighth year at Northwestern.

2012: 10-3 (5-3 Big Ten).

Returning starters: Eight offense, seven defense.

Key player: Senior running back Venric Mark rushed for 1,371 yards last year and was an All-America punt returner, too.

Outlook: The Wildcats return most key weapons from a team that lost three games by a combined 19 points last season. Northwestern’s schedule is tougher, starting with crossover games against Wisconsin and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. But the Wildcats present all kinds of matchup problems of their own, with Mark and two quality quarterback options in Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian. There are playmakers on defense, too, led by safety Ibraheim Campbell and defensive end Tyler Scott.



Coach: Mark Dantonio, 69-45 overall in nine seasons, seventh year at Michigan State.

2012: 7-6 (3-5 Big Ten), defeated TCU 17-16 in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Returning starters: Nine offense, seven defense.

Key player: Linebacker Max Bullough is the heart and soul of a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally last year.

Outlook: Coming off two 11-win seasons, Michigan State sputtered last year when its final five losses came by a combined 13 points. The defense should be superb again, but a struggling offense has to replace 1,700-yard rusher Le’Veon Bell, who left early for the NFL. Dantonio kept the heat on senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell all offseason and declared that position a four-man battle during training camp with the starter TBA.



Coach: Jerry Kill, 136-89 overall in 19 seasons; third year at Minnesota.

2012: 6-7 (2-6 Big Ten), lost to Texas Tech 34-31 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Returning starters: Nine offense, seven defense

Key player: Defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman has a chance to be a top-50 NFL draft pick, and opposing offenses will have to game-plan around him.

Outlook: The Gophers are counting on two junior college transfers — Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell — to fill holes at linebacker. The offense returns largely intact, but it’s still a young group, with just one senior expected to start (wide receiver Derrick Engel). Philip Nelson returns to quarterback after starting seven games as a true freshman, but the team will rely on the run.



Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 112-95 overall in 17 seasons; 15th year at Iowa.

2012: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten).

Returning starters: Six offense, eight defense.

Key player: Offensive tackle Brandon Scherff is back from a leg injury that derailed his season last year, and this unit as a whole is looking forward to better health.

Outlook: Iowa’s win totals the past four years have been 11, eight, seven and four. The Hawkeyes get an immediate test again, hosting Northern Illinois in Saturday’s opener .


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San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
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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 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
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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