Before we get started: 2012 B1G football predictions

With the 2012 college football season kicking off Thursday, it’s time to offer my quick predictions. Where will each team finish in the Big Ten standings? I offer my best guesses. Who are some likely breakout players? I mention a few candidates. And who will hoist the hardware at the second annual Big Ten title game? I see history repeating itself. See all my predictions in this post.

LEGENDS DIVISION
Michigan State 10-2, 6-2
Michigan 9-3, 6-2
Nebraska 9-3, 5-3
Iowa 7-5, 3-5
Northwestern 7-5, 3-5
Minnesota 5-7, 2-6

Champ: Michigan State
Best Offensive Player: Denard Robinson, Michigan
Best Defensive Player: William Gholston, Michigan State
Breakout Offensive Player: Kenny Bell, Nebraska & Kain Colter, Northwestern
Breakout Defensive Player: Nico Law, Iowa
Team to watch: Nebraska – The schedule is grueling, to say the least, but the Huskers won’t have any surprises coming their way in Year 2 in the Big Ten. This team is rumored to be more physical and it boasts a pretty solid offense.
Biggest question: Who will survive this competitive division? Will it be one of the favorites (Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska) or a dark horse (Iowa)?

[BTN.com: Dienhart: My preseason Big Ten bowl projections]

LEADERS DIVISION
Wisconsin 10-2, 6-2
Ohio State 9-3, 5-3
Purdue 7-5, 4-4
Illinois 7-5, 4-4
Penn State 6-6, 3-5
Indiana 4-8, 1-7

Champ: Wisconsin
Best Offensive Player: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Best Defensive Player: Kawann Short, Purdue
Breakout Offensive Player: Stephen Houston, Indiana
Breakout Defensive Player: Ryan Russell, Purdue
Team to watch: Purdue – The Boilermakers return plenty of talent, particularly on defense where Short and Ricardo Allen lead the way, plus they have a manageable schedule that includes last season’s two worst teams (Indiana and Minnesota) and home dates against the two toughest opponents (Michigan and Wisconsin).
Biggest question: Can anyone challenge two-time reigning Big Ten champ Wisconsin? Ohio State and Penn State are out of the running due to NCAA sanctions, and the rest of the division went a combined 6-18 in Big Ten play last season.

[BTN.com: Preseason Big Ten player rankings]

Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin over Michigan State
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Nagurksi-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Kawann Short, Purdue
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Most Improved Player: Braxton Miller, Ohio State

And to pass the time before Thursday’s Minnesota-UNLV opener, I present to you this pump-up video:

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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Show Comments (19 Comments)
19 Post Your Comment
charlie on 8/27/2012 @ 6:11pm EDT Said:

I don’t expect a repeat of last years cvhampionship game. Way to predictable. I’ll go with Michigan vs Illinois.

    Brent Yarina, BTN.com on 8/27/2012 @ 6:20pm EDT Said:

    Charlie – That’s bold! I like it. Pretty high on Tim Beckman, huh?

robert mitchell on 8/27/2012 @ 6:13pm EDT Said:

I actually was liking all your predictions until i got to the championship game and out loud i said eff you…. i like sparty all the way this year… badgers can go to you know where..

charlie on 8/27/2012 @ 6:15pm EDT Said:

Offensive Breakout players Nathan S.-Illinois kaine colter.

jamesondraper on 8/27/2012 @ 6:31pm EDT Said:

Will Gholston will be the best defensive player in the country this year. No doubt.

buci01 on 8/27/2012 @ 6:59pm EDT Said:

I believe that your missing the boat completely on defensive player of the year. It will end up being John Simon from ,”The Ohio State University Buckeyrs” !!!

Tommy on 8/27/2012 @ 8:06pm EDT Said:

Wisconsin all the way 3 in a row! Sparty is good but not as good as the Badgers and you know it!

Christopher Kostoff on 8/27/2012 @ 8:42pm EDT Said:

Illinois over Nebraska for the unlikely BIG championship. Do not overlook the talented Illini this year folks.

aroznowski on 8/27/2012 @ 8:45pm EDT Said:

Legends Division:
Nebraska 10-2 6-2
Michigan 9-3 6-2
Michigan State 9-3 5-3
Northwestern 7-5 4-4
Iowa 7-5 3-5
Minnesota 6-6 2-6
-
Leaders Division:
Ohio State 10-2 6-2
Wisconsin 9-3 5-3
Illinois 8-4 4-4
Purdue 6-6 3-5
Penn State 6-6 3-5
Indiana 4-8 1-7
-
Iowa (7-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten):
vs. Northern Illinois – W
Iowa State – W
Northern Iowa – W
Central Michigan – W
Minnesota – W
at Michigan State – L
Penn State – W
at Northwestern – L
at Indiana – L
Purdue – W
at Michigan – L
Nebraska – L
-
Michigan (9-3, 6-2):
vs. Alabama – L
Air Force – W
Massachusetts – W
at Notre Dame – W
at Purdue – W
Illinois – W
Michigan State – W
at Nebraska – L
at Minnesota – W
Northwestern – W
Iowa – W
at Ohio State – L
-
Michigan State (9-3, 5-3):
Boise State – W
at Central Michigan – W
Notre Dame – W
Eastern Michigan – W
Ohio State – W
at Indiana – W
Iowa – W
at Michigan – L
at Wisconsin – L
Nebraska – W
Northwestern – L
at Minnesota – W
-
Minnesota (6-6, 2-6):
at UNLV – W
New Hampshire – W
Western Michigan – W
Syracuse – W
at Iowa – L
Northwestern – W
at Wisconsin – L
Purdue – W
Michigan – L
at Illinois – L
at Nebraska – L
Michigan State – L
-
Nebraska (10-2, 6-2):
Southern Miss – W
at UCLA – W
Arkansas State – W
Idaho State – W
Wisconsin – W
at Ohio State – L
at Northwestern – W
Michigan – W
at Michigan State – L
Penn State – W
Minnesota – W
at Iowa – W
-
Northwestern (7-5, 4-4):
at Syracuse – W
Vanderbilt – L
Boston College – W
South Dakota – W
Indiana – W
at Penn State – L
at Minnesota – L
Nebraska – L
Iowa – W
at Michigan – L
at Michigan State – W
Illinois – W
-
Illinois (8-4, 4-4):
Western Michigan – W
at Arizona State – W
Charleston Southern – W
Louisiana Tech – W
Penn State – W
at Wisconsin – L
at Michigan – L
Indiana – W
at Ohio State – L
Minnesota – W
Purdue – W
at Northwestern – L
-
Indiana (4-8, 1-7):
Indiana State – W
at Massachusetts – W
Ball State – W
at Northwestern – L
Michigan State – L
Ohio State – L
at Navy – L
at Illinois – L
Iowa – W
Wisconsin – L
at Penn State – L
at Purdue – L
-
Ohio State (10-2, 6-2):
Miami (OH) – W
UCF – W
California – W
UAB – W
at Michigan State – L
Nebraska – W
at Indiana – W
Purdue – L
at Penn State – W
Illinois – W
at Wisconsin – W
Michigan – W
-
Penn State (6-6, 3-5):
Ohio – W
at Virginia – L
Navy – W
Temple – W
at Illinois – L
Northwestern – W
at Iowa – L
Ohio State – L
at Purdue – L
at Nebraska – L
Indiana – W
Wisconsin – W
-
Purdue (6-6, 3-5):
Eastern Kentucky – W
at Notre Dame – L
Eastern Michigan – W
Marshall – W
Michigan – L
Wisconsin – L
at Ohio State – W
at Minnesota – L
Penn State – W
at Iowa – L
at Illinois – L
Indiana – W
-
Wisconsin (9-3, 5-3):
Northern Iowa – W
at Oregon State – W
Utah State – W
UTEP – W
at Nebraska – L
Illinois – W
at Purdue – W
Minnesota – W
Michigan State – W
at Indiana – W
Ohio State – L
at Penn State – L
-
Big Ten Championship Game – Nebraska over Wisconsin
-
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio – Nebraska
Another BCS bowl game – Michigan
Capital One Bowl – Wisconsin
Outback Bowl – Michigan State
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl – Illinois
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Iowa
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas – Northwestern
TicketCity Bowl – Purdue
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl – Minnesota
-
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year – Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year – William Gholston, Michigan State
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year – Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Ron Roumanis on 8/28/2012 @ 3:51am EDT Said:

As a Wisconsin class of 87, 91, I’m thrilled to see the Badgers finally getting sustained pre-season respect. Just keep the big guys fed and healthy, and perhaps a body-guard for Monty Ball…?

Doug on 8/28/2012 @ 8:09am EDT Said:

charlie, that’s a good pick for 3rd place in each respective division, Mich will finish 3rd behind MSU and NEB, Ill will finish 3rd behind Wis and OSU….

Stephen on 8/28/2012 @ 9:09am EDT Said:

Well, I see the Illini’s Jonathan Brown doing some big things.
So what’s your definition of a breakout player of the year? Or is he in the defensive player of the year frame?

Steve on 8/28/2012 @ 12:53pm EDT Said:

Seeing a lot of preseason love for the Spartans… don’t necessarily doubt it but will scoring points be easy with Maxwell at the helm? Did he have a fantastic camp or what, because I really haven’t heard much about him at all…

Doug on 8/28/2012 @ 2:47pm EDT Said:

Steve, Maxwell is a 4th year junior with a stronger arm and more athletic ability then Cousins, he just lacks experience. MSU’s D will keep them in every game till the offense really starts to click. Having Bell at RB doesn’t hurt either !

Adam on 8/28/2012 @ 3:09pm EDT Said:

Does everyone really feel MSU will do that well this year? The defense will still be tough, but how can we ignore how much offense they lost from last year? Realistically, they could have six loses (Boise St, Ohio St, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa or Northwestern). To predict them to have 10 wins is a stretch, when really they’ll struggle to maybe get 9. BIG Championship: Wisconsin over Nebraska

Mitch on 8/29/2012 @ 7:32pm EDT Said:

It comes down to 3 teams Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan. Great teams, but i think the next two years go to Nebraska.

packers1 on 8/30/2012 @ 12:00am EDT Said:

Don’t overlook Iowa. Just saying.

Doug on 8/30/2012 @ 9:17am EDT Said:

Come on Mitch, get real, listing Neb and Mich but not MSU, that’s a joke. MSU has beaten Wisky 3 out of last 4 and Mich 4 years running, and this year Neb travels to MSU, let’s try to be real with the posts and not a total homer.

Bob on 9/4/2012 @ 2:19pm EDT Said:

I can understand some people are pulling for their own teams, but you have to be realistic. As long as Monte Ball can get through the season without any additional brain damage, Wisconsin will clinch Leaders. Look for a reloaded OSU to be nipping at their heals. Legends will most likely come down to UofM and MSU again, with Nebraska battling for third. MSU has an untested quarterback and a good portion of their receivers have moved on. Their defense should hold off the next couple of non-conference opponents until their passing game can gain some ground. If their passing game starts clicking and Le’Veon Bell stays healthy, they will be tough to beat. MSU has won the last 4 meetings against UofM, so look for the Spartans to be the favorite in that game. After Saturday’s Alabama loss, it’s easy to see that D. Robinson is not the same player from last year and UofM has a lot of work to do. OSU will also be looking for revenge in their rematch with UofM this year. UofM’s one saving grace is they don’t have Wisconsin on the schedule, which will surely save them a loss. Nebraska got crushed by Wisconsin and Michigan last year, as well as an embarrassing loss to the Northwestern, who only managed two other Big Ten wins last season. They did manage upsets of both MSU and a depleted OSU. Nebraska still doesn’t know how to play Big Ten football. I expect Nebraska to battle this year, but fall to Wisc, OSU, UofM and MSU. This will place them in the middle of the pack.

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