Debate it: 2012 Big Ten scoring leader

In the coming days, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart and BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina will tackle all the important football statistical categories and offer their predictions for the 2012 Big Ten leader. Up first: Scoring. See Tom and Brent’s email thread in this post and vote for your winner, too.

SCORING
2011 leader: Montee Ball, 236 points (39 TDs, 1 2-pt. conversion)
Returning leaders: Montee Ball, 236 points; Rex Burkhead, 102; Brett Maher, 100; Dan Conroy 99; Denard Robinson 96.

[2011 Big Ten rushing TD leaders; 2011 Big Ten receiving TD leaders]

Brent: When it comes to scoring, no one did it better than Montee Ball a season ago. His 236 points were 74 more than the nation’s next competitor, Kansas State QB Collin Klein (162). Back for his senior season and running behind what figures to be another strong Badger offensive line, Ball is the only logical choice to lead the Big Ten in scoring. I have to assume you agree, right?

Tom: Hard to not go with Ball, but perhaps he’ll be a marked man in 2012. And maybe James White will get more totes. So, how about Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell? He notched 13 touchdowns in 2011 and could be primed for an even bigger season running behind what many feel is the best line of the Mark Dantonio era. Bell is a big, hard-running back who excels in the red zone for a Spartan squad that may be the best in the Big Ten. No doubt, if new quarterback Andrew Maxwell is as good as many say, that will open the ground game—and path to the end zone—even more for Bell.

Brent: Props on trying to make this one interesting! No, seriously, I hear you. If anyone is going to challenge Ball in scoring, it’s either the talented Spartan back or Rex Burkhead. So, we both seem to think it’s going to come down to Bell or Ball – how about a dark horse candidate? I like Nebraska’s uber-accurate K Brett Maher. The guy has limitless range, he plays for a potent offense, and he hit the century mark last season.

Tom: Keep an eye on Bell’s’ teammate Dan Conroy, one of the top kickers in the Big Ten. He nailed 17-of-23 field-goal attempts last season. And he figures to play on a Spartan team that scores a lot of points, meaning myriad extra points on top of what could be a 20 field-goal season for Conroy.

Brent: We both like Legends Division kickers, I see. Still think it’s Ball’s title to win, and by a very wide margin. Let’s see what Big Ten fans think.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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