Legends Division: Who Will Finish On Top?

I have written much about the 2012 season, which starts on Thursday when Minnesota plays at UNLV. But before the first kickoff of the first game, I’m offering my look at how I think the Big Ten race will shape up this fall. My BTN.com colleague Brent Yarina did this on Monday to give you another perspective.

BTN aired the first of two hour-long football preview shows, one for each Big Ten division. “Big Ten Football Preview: Legends Division” aired at 8 p.m. ET (full TV schedule for later airings). You can see selected clips over here, too. Our “Big Ten Football Preview: Leaders Division” airs Wednesday night at 8 p.m. So I’m starting with my Legends Division piece this afternoon and you can check back here on Wednesday for part two.

1. Michigan State 11-1 7-1
2. Michigan 10-2 6-2
3. Nebraska 10-2 6-2
4. Iowa 8-4 4-4
5. Northwestern 6-6 2-6
6. Minnesota 6-6 2-6

Champ: Michigan State

Best Offensive Player: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan. What more can be said about “Shoelace,” who is aiming to become the all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks in NCAA annals this fall? I have run out of adjectives. Oh, and the senior also supposed to be a better passer.

Best Defensive Player: William Gholston, E, Michigan State. Yes, the junior will demand lots of attention from blockers, but Gholston still will find a way to make plays and be the ultimate disruptive force. He’s a pterodactyl off the edge. Just frightening.

Breakout Offensive Player: Bennie Fowler, WR, Michigan State. He flashed big-play skills as a freshman in 2010 before suffering foot injuries that ruined 2011. Now, the junior is ready to shine as the Spartans’ top wideout.

Breakout Defensive Player: Ra’Shede Hageman, T, Minnesota. The mammoth junior seems to have found a home inside after trying tight end and defensive end. If he’s dialed in, the 6-6, 300-pounder could be a wrecking ball on the interior for a surging Gopher program.

Top Offensive Newcomer: Greg Garmon, RB, Iowa. The true freshman has no choice but to play because of attrition. And he won’t disappoint with his speed and explosiveness for a team that’s desperate for a runner.

Top Defensive Newcomer: Mohammed Seisay, CB, Nebraska. He’s a big, physical JC cornerback who began his career at Memphis. Look for Seisay to be a force in coverage and vs. the run for a much-improved Husker defense.

Team to watch: Iowa. Kirk Ferentz’s teams usually do some of their best work when expectations are low. And, that’s the case this year. An overhauled staff must try to find a ground game on offense and develop a line on defense. If those things happen, look out.

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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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
Eric M. Russell on 8/28/2012 @ 6:02pm EDT Said:

Minnesota will be much better this year than what is being predicted by the experts. If Gray plays up to his potential and the defense improves, this team could win 8 games.

Johnny Park on 8/28/2012 @ 7:52pm EDT Said:

Seisay doesn’t play for Northwestern….

    BTN.com staff on 8/28/2012 @ 8:04pm EDT Said:

    Good catch. An earlier version of this post had the incorrect school for Mohammed Seisay. We have made a correction to this story.

nessmasta on 8/28/2012 @ 10:56pm EDT Said:

I really can’t get my mind around Michigan State repeating in the Legends this year. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a good team – however, my gut-feeling is that this year, there’s a team that’s really hungry and the one I see going to this year’s B1G Championship, and that is Michigan.

I see Michigan State either in second or third behind Nebraska. But, if my team Iowa beats them this season, I could possibly see them in 4th place, who knows.

Doug on 8/28/2012 @ 11:10pm EDT Said:

Looks good, I believe MSU’s lone loss will be at Wisconsin

aroznowski on 8/29/2012 @ 1:36am EDT Said:

Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska will all duke it out for the Legends Divison championship. In the end, I think that it will come down to the Michigan-Nebraska game in Lincoln. Nebraska should be able to beat the Wolverines at home and advance to the conference championship game.

Jay on 8/29/2012 @ 8:11am EDT Said:

Great job on the B1G Legends Preview show last night! It was a fair and balanced look at every team, not just the top teams in the division. Looking forward to tonight’s Leaders preview.

Nate on 8/29/2012 @ 3:20pm EDT Said:

I know that this is just a prediction of how teams will finish in the B1G, but am I reading the standings right? None of the teams will lose a non-conference game? Probably just an oversight🙂