Dienhart: Spartans should top Big Ten in USA Today poll

The USAToday preseason poll is out. And, stop me if you have heard this before: LSU is No. 1 followed by Alabama—the teams that played for the BCS title after last season. Please, football gods, don’t give us a rematch. Interestingly, Bama had more first-place votes (20) than LSU (18).

The Big Ten is well-represented.

Michigan is No. 8.
Wisconsin is No. 12.
Michigan State is No. 13.
Nebraska is No. 16.

Since Ohio State is on probation, it won’t be ranked by the Coaches’ Poll.

As I said in my analysis of the Sporting News poll, Michigan at No. 8 seems high. It’s the defense that gives me pause. Do the Wolverines REALLY have a defense worthy of a top-10 ranking? SI.com’s Stewart Mandel tends to agree. Check out this tweet from him:

Wisconsin is a nice fit at No. 12—even with Montee Ball’s status uncertain. The offense should be explosive once again. And the defense always is underrated for what is the hottest program in the conference aiming for a third Big Ten title in a row. Why is this team underrated every year?

Michigan State is the Big Ten team that I think should be ranked highest. Games are won in the trenches. And no Big Ten school has a better set of lines than the Spartans.

Nebraska? No. 16? Seems high. A spot from 20-25 would have been more apt, given the questions about the Husker defense.

Amazingly, no Big Ten teams were in the “receiving votes” category after the Top 25. I think three teams deserved some merit: Illinois, Iowa and Purdue. I think all three could pop into the polls at some point this season. In fact, the Fighting Illini and Boilermakers may be dark horses in the Leaders.

But then again, these things aren’t an exact science.

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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10 Comments

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Doug on 8/2/2012 @ 1:05pm EDT Said:

Nice article Tom, agree with you completely.

Pepper Bostwick on 8/2/2012 @ 1:38pm EDT Said:

Terrible article Tom, disagree with you completely

    BTN.com staff on 8/2/2012 @ 1:39pm EDT Said:

    Pepper, fair enough. Love to hear who you think will be on top. Let us know!

Doug on 8/2/2012 @ 4:15pm EDT Said:

great article Tom, let pepper be bitter !

Alec on 8/2/2012 @ 7:45pm EDT Said:

I agree. Michigan does not have a top 10 defense. Especially after how they gave up 34 points to OSU in the big house. No great defense was going to let a horrible OSU offense score 34 points in their own home field. Ofcourse preseason polls are for expectations for this season but from what I hear, Michigan will be worse on defense this year than last year.

Doug on 8/3/2012 @ 8:48am EDT Said:

M will lose to MSU OSU and Neb for sure

James on 8/3/2012 @ 4:29pm EDT Said:

Alec, look what gave Michigan a victory against Virginia Tech. That was all Michigan’s defense. Michigan’s defense is what won them that game.

Giving MSU that much praise for topping the Big Ten after losing Cousins, Martin, Cunningham, Baker and Worthy is pretty big shoes to fill for such skilled positions that kept MSU in games. Michigan will beat MSU this year. Worthy was your anchor on that defensive line. If I had to compare…Worthy and Martin were really the anchors on both lines.

If I had to guess who would top the Big Ten it would be Michigan or Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

Doug on 8/3/2012 @ 7:30pm EDT Said:

No what beat VTech was a horrible overturned call in O.T. Please don’t brag about beating an ACC team. MSU will beat Michigan again. MSU will beat Wisky for the Big Ten Title.

Hersh on 8/5/2012 @ 12:05pm EDT Said:

I want what Doug is having! That must be some potent stuff! I think that Michigan State has one of the most passionate fan base especially when it comes to bashing Michigan. I think that the rivalry with Central Michigan will be renewed this year. I hope that Michigan State will continue to play well although I think they will come in third in their division.

Doug on 8/6/2012 @ 12:01pm EDT Said:

Hey Hersh, not having anything but faith in my team !! CMU will be bad again this year. MSU has a better D then both M and NEB, look for MSU to beat them both !