Big Ten Leaders Division storylines

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2013 - 11:46 PM

A look at what to expect in the Leaders Division in 2013:

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Gary Andersen takes over at Wisconsin.

Photo: Michael P. King, Associated Press

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1. BUCKEYES VS. BADGERS

Wisconsin represented the Leaders Division in the Big Ten championship game last year, but only because Ohio State and Penn State were banned from the postseason. This year, the Buckeyes are eligible again and looking forward to a showdown with the Badgers on Sept. 28 in Columbus.

2. IN ANDERSEN THEY TRUST?

Bret Bielema led Wisconsin to three consecutive Big Ten titles before jumping to Arkansas, and now the Badgers faithful turns to former Utah State coach Gary Andersen. Wisconsin has a plethora of talent, but this team has question marks at receiver, on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.

3. NATIONAL TITLE PICTURE

No Big Ten team has won the BCS championship since Ohio State following the 2002 season, and none has made it to the title game since the 2007 season, when LSU defeated Ohio State 38-24. After going undefeated last year during their one-year bowl ban, the Buckeyes hope to do it again this year before the BCS gives way to football’s version of the Final Four next season.

4. HOOSIER UPRISING?

Indiana went 4-8 last year, with four of its losses coming by four points or fewer. Kevin Wilson netted a top 50 recruiting class and hopes many of those freshmen can revamp the defense. If it works, Indiana could head to its first bowl game since 2007.

5. LONG ODDS

The NCAA sanctions are hitting hard, but Penn State began the post-Paterno era by going 8-4 under first-year coach Bill O’Brien. Is this the year the Nittany Lions turn into an easier mark on opposing team’s schedules, or will they continue putting together solid teams in Happy Valley?

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