Coach: Kevin Wilson, 5-19 overall in two seasons; third year at Indiana.
2012: 4-8 (2-6 Big Ten).
Returning starters: Ten offense, nine defense.
Key player: Senior safety Greg Heban led the team with three interceptions and 91 tackles last season, and this defense needs to improve.
Outlook: After going 1-11 and 4-8 in the first two years under Wilson, Indiana looks like a team on the rise. But the Hoosiers allowed an average of 35.2 points per game last year, worst in the Big Ten. The offense looks potent, especially with quarterback Tre Roberson back to full health. Three receivers — Shane Wynn, Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes — return after putting up more than 600 reception yards last year.
Coach: Darrell Hazell, 16-10 overall in two seasons; first year at Purdue.
2012: 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten), lost to Oklahoma State 58-14 in Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Returning starters: Five offense, nine defense.
Key player: Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston anchors a defensive line that lost second-round pick Kawann Short to the NFL.
Outlook: Purdue was considered a team to watch last year, and the fallout led to Danny Hope’s dismissal. Hazell came highly recommended after leading Kent State to its first bowl game in 40 years and previously serving seven years as an assistant coach at Ohio State. Purdue faces Notre Dame and Wisconsin in its third and fourth games, so it could be a rough start, but Boilermakers fans should be more interested in how this team finishes.
Coach: Tim Beckman, 23-26 overall in four seasons; second year at Illinois.
2012: 2-10 (0-8 Big Ten).
Returning starters: Nine offense, four defense.
Key player: Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase needs to bounce back after injuries and inconsistency left him with four touchdown passes and eight interceptions last year.
Outlook: Beckman replaced five of his nine assistant coaches, hiring former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit as his new offensive coordinator. Cubit’s Broncos lost last year’s season opener to Illinois 24-7 — not exactly an offensive showcase. But something had to change. The Illini offense averaged only 16.7 points per game last year. Defensively, Illinois will be counting on its linebacker corps, especially senior Jonathan Brown, after allowing 32.1 points per game last year.