Debate it: Who meets in Big Ten title game?

Saturday marks the beginning of Big Ten play. For the next eight weeks, Big Ten teams will be battling for their respective division crowns and a berth in the annual Big Ten title game. Who will make it to Indy? We’re only four weeks into the season, but senior writer Tom Dienhart and web editor Brent Yarina decided to share their best guesses.

We asked the question on Twitter and included some of the many answers in this post. Read Tom and Brent’s conversation, then tell them what you think in the comments box. Or you can find them on Twitter: @BTNTomDienhart and @BTNBrentYarina.

Tom: I like Michigan State out of the Legends and Wisconsin out of the Leaders.

Brent: Going for the repeat of last year’s game, huh? I’ll go with Nebraska vs. Purdue.

Tom: You are a bold and daring man, Brent. Maybe the most interesting man in America with that choice.

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Brent: Ha! Yep, I’m taking the Huskers because they have the conference’s best offense, coupled with what I think will be a good enough defense, when all is said and done. The emergence of Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, to a lesser extent, and the improvements of Taylor Martinez make this offense pretty scary.

Tom: I like your pick of Nebraska. But don’t forget that pesky little game Big Red has in East Lansing. And will the Huskers wear their big boy pants at Northwestern? Hmmm.

Brent: The game at Michigan State does scare me, although the Huskers thoroughly dominated the Spartans, 24-3, last season. Also, I have real concerns about the Michigan State offense, which relies way too much on Le’Veon Bell. At this rate, Bell could be worn down when these two teams meet Nov. 3.

Rex Burkhead

Tom: MSU will figure out something on offense to “create” a passing game. Right now, throwing to tight end Dion Sims is working best. There is too much talent at wideout for someone not to emerge eventually.

Purdue, that’s the pick that really surprises me. You have more faith in its offense than I do. Remember, those early numbers have come vs. “titans” Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan. The line? The quarterback play? I don’t know, my friend.

Brent: You’re right, the Purdue offense may not be anything to write home about. But the defense sure is. Look, someone has to represent this division in Indy, and it’s pretty clear Wisconsin isn’t what it was the last two seasons. Oh, and those Badgers just happen to visit Purdue in a game that will go a LONG way in deciding who represents the Leaders.

Tom: Wisconsin has won two in a row and appears to be back on track. Credit Bret Bielema with two bold—and perhaps season-saving—moves: 1. Firing his offensive line coach and 2. Switching quarterbacks. Plus, the Badger defense is every bit as capable as last year’s—if not better.

[RELATED: Read the latest Big Ten football “Numbers” column for our BTN host. ]

Brent: That’s your argument for the Badgers, that they’ve won two in a row?! Both of us know they should have lost to Utah State two weeks ago, and then last week, they only led UTEP – yes, UTEP – 23-19 early in the fourth quarter.

Tom: This is a proud program that has been the conference’s standard the last two seasons. It won’t slink away quietly amid some early-season bumps.

Brent: I’ll give you this: Wisconsin has an easier road to Indy than either of our Legends Division picks.

Tom: Yeah, it will be tough. But I think the Spartans’ defense—best in the Big Ten—and Le’Veon Bell—best in the Big Ten—will carry them to a second consecutive Big Ten championship game.

Brent: For the record, with that defense, I’d be picking Michigan State, too, if it had a passing game.

Tom: The passing game eventually will come around. Beat Ohio State on Saturday, and I bet you are singing the Spartans’ praises and chugging the green Kool-Aid. I’ll save a seat on the bandwagon for you, Brent.

Brent: Get the Kool-Aid ready. Considering the opponents, it’s very possible both of our Legends Division picks could be 0-1 after Saturday night. If that happens, we may be returning our Kool-Aid for one with a blue or purple hue.

We asked Big Ten fans for their title game picks on Twitter, too. Here are their answers:

I’ll give you this: Wisconsin has an easier road to Indy than either of our Legends Division picks.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
Nicholas Push on 9/27/2012 @ 4:48pm EDT Said:

I fail to see the continued fascination with Sparty. This team simply does not have enough offense to win the division. Nebraska looks like the class of the Legends division, but Michigan may have something to say about it before the season is through.

aroznowski on 9/27/2012 @ 8:32pm EDT Said:

The first four weeks of the Big Ten football season have generally played out as I originally expected. My preseason predictions have made me look like a genius so far so I am sticking with them. Nebraska will win the Legends Division championship. Ohio State will win the Leaders Division championship. Since Ohio State is ineligible for postseason play, I will still give a very slim edge to Wisconsin to make it to Indianapolis over Purdue mainly because I have yet to see how Purdue will deal with being a legitimate contender. I expected both Michigan State and Wisconsin to take a step back this season, and they have both done just that. That step has actually been bigger than I originally anticipated. Michigan State’s defense will keep them in every game, but that offense is a disaster that has not shown much potential of improving. Le’Veon Bell is carrying that offense on his back, and if he gets injured at any point this season, the Spartans will be undoubtedly done. As for Wisconsin, the Badgers lost to a middle-tier Pac-12 team and could have lost at home to an FCS team, a WAC team, and a Conference USA team. Wisconsin has a concussed, underachieving running back and a defense that has a history of completely shattering in big games.That pretty much sums them up. Therefore, Nebraska will convincingly defeat Wisconsin in the conference championship game and earn its first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 2001-2002 season.

Fan on 9/27/2012 @ 8:53pm EDT Said:

Appreciate your support, Tom. WiscONsin!

Doug on 9/27/2012 @ 10:24pm EDT Said:

Your first sentence leaves your post with no credibility. MSU’s D is best in the big ten, while Michigan’s and Nebraska’s offense has excelled against mediocre competition and both teams give up a ton of points. MSU will be the one standing at the end.

GBR_ZX_87 on 9/28/2012 @ 10:22am EDT Said:

At the risk of being redundant, really? If you are just going off of stats, Nebraska has allowed 7 more points per game than MSU. BUT, they have scored more than double MSU’s points per game. Again, you haven’t played on offense like ours and we haven’t played a defense like yours, so I’m just not sure I understand how this is so obvious to you. It isn’t as though your defense has played a particularly great offense either.

Doug on 9/28/2012 @ 2:32pm EDT Said:


Agree with your points but you could also say MSU lost to a top 10 team in ND while Neb lost to a medocre UCLA team that just lost at home to OSU…

Can’t wait till nov. 3rd, good luck bud !

GBR_ZX_87 on 9/28/2012 @ 6:39pm EDT Said:


You could definitely look at it that way. You could also consider the fact that a Nebraska team that didn’t play well on either side of the ball was still within a touchdown of an upper-middle level team in the nation. Meanwhile, MSU got nothing down again Notre Dame (which doesn’t boast nearly half of the offensive weapons that Nebraska does). I’m looking forward to it and same to you!

douglas on 9/29/2012 @ 12:16pm EDT Said:

UCLA is an upper-middle level team? With a total D ranked 47th, passing D ranked 93rd and a rushing D ranked 90th? Sorry, you’re obviously mistaken. ND and Boise have D’s ranked much, much higer. Nebraska still has not played a good team. Asserting UCLA is an upper-middle level team is beyond laughable.