Coach: Urban Meyer, 116-23 overall in 11 seasons; second year at Ohio State.
2012: 12-0 (8-0 Big Ten), bowl ineligible.
Returning starters: Nine offense, four defense.
Key player: Braxton Miller is the Big Ten’s top Heisman Trophy candidate, a dual-threat QB who fits Meyer’s spread offense perfectly.
Outlook: Without a marquee game on its nonconference schedule, the Buckeyes probably need to go undefeated again to be part of the BCS championship discussion. Those are the expectations in Columbus. People forget how close this team came to losing three games last year (taking Purdue and Wisconsin to overtime, and beating Indiana 52-49). Running back Carlos Hyde and cornerback Bradley Roby ran into discipline issues in July, setting a bad tone for preseason camp.
Coach: Gary Andersen, 30-31 overall in five seasons; first year at Wisconsin.
2012: 8-6 (4-4 Big Ten), defeated Nebraska 70-31 in Big Ten Championship Game, lost 20-14 to Stanford in Rose Bowl.
Returning starters: Eight offense, seven defense.
Key player: Left tackle Ryan Groy is the best blocker and the only senior on an offensive line that lost two starters and has a surprising lack of depth.
Outlook: Andersen did an impressive job rebuilding Utah State, and now he’s at a program that doesn’t need rebuilding. Even with center Travis Frederick and running back Montee Ball in the NFL, the Badgers have several marquee talents, including linebacker Chris Borland, receiver Jared Abbrederis and running backs James White and Melvin Gordon.
Coach: Bill O’Brien, 8-4 in one season; second year at Penn State.
2012: 8-4 (6-2 Big Ten), bowl ineligible.
Returning starters: Eight offense, six defense.
Key player: Allen Robinson had 1,013 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Now that Matt McGloin is gone, Robinson will be helping to break in a new quarterback — either true freshman Christian Hackenberg or junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.
Outlook: O’Brien earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors last year in his debut, and the job only gets tougher now. Besides McGloin, the team must replace its top four tacklers on defense. And by next year, Penn State will have only 65 scholarships, down from 85, which will continue cutting into its depth. The Nittany Lions also still are ineligible for postseason play for the next three seasons.