Big Ten West Division story lines

  • Updated: August 27, 2014 - 10:17 AM
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Melvin Gordon gives Wisconsin its usual threat at running back, but the Badgers will be tested quickly with the opener vs. LSU.

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1 The Tone Setter

Wisconsin plays LSU on Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. LSU lost eight players to the NFL but retooled with several top-flight recruits, including running back Leonard Fournette, quarterback Brandon Harris and wide receiver Malachi Dupre. After this, the Badgers won’t face a major test until Nebraska visits Nov. 15.

 

2 West meets East

The Big Ten East might look stronger on paper, but here are five chances for the West to alter that perception: Minnesota at Michigan (Sept. 27), Nebraska at Michigan State (Oct. 4), Michigan at Northwestern (Nov.  8), Penn State at Illinois (Nov. 22), Purdue at Indiana (Nov. 29).

 

3 Schedule disparity

It’s hard for Gophers fans not to think there’s a schedule conspiracy after drawing interdivision games against Michigan and Ohio State. Wisconsin drew Rutgers and Maryland from the East Division. Iowa drew Indiana and Maryland. Next year brings the same crossover games. It’ll even out, but not until 2016.

 

4 The NFL can wait

Melvin Gordon had a chance to be the first running back taken in last year’s NFL draft, but he returned for his junior season at Wisconsin. And left tackle Brandon Scherff gave Iowa a big boost, when he returned for his senior season. Some have listed Scherff as a potential top-five pick next year.

 

5 Division deciders

The East Division could come down to one game — Ohio State at Michigan State (Nov. 8). Here are five that will help decide the West: Iowa at Minnesota (Nov. 8), Nebraska at Wisconsin (Nov. 15), Wisconsin at Iowa (Nov. 22), Nebraska at Iowa (Nov. 28) and Minnesota at Wisconsin (Nov. 29).

JOE CHRISTENSEN

 

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