Is it too early to break down Legends race?

We knew it was going to be a wild Legends Division race, and it’s lived up to the hype. Every team has played two Big Ten games, with the results yielding a pair of 2-0, 1-1 and 0-2 teams. The preseason contenders with the favorable schedules, Michigan State and Nebraska, are off to perfect starts, while the preseason contenders with the unfavorable schedules, Michigan and Northwestern, check in at 1-1 and 0-2, respectively.

[ MORE: Tom Dienhart answers Legends Division questions in his Mailbag ]

So, is the four-team race now a two-teamer? Not yet. The Huskers and Spartans may sit atop the division, and they may be the only Legends teams with sub-.500 slates remaining (see breakdown below), however there’s plenty of intradivision action to come.

Still, it does seem as though the winner of the Michigan State-Nebraska game on Nov. 16 will be in the driver’s seat for Indianapolis. Something else working in Michigan State and Nebraska’s favor: Iowa and Michigan, the teams directly behind them in the standings, both have to play No. 3 Ohio State, the Big Ten’s clear-cut best team.

That’s huge, leaving many asking who has the edge when it comes to the Huskers and Spartans? Yes, already.

It all depends on how one looks at it. Each has three home/road games left. That’s a draw. Michigan State’s opponents own a combined 3-8 Big Ten record; Nebraska’s are 5-7. We can basically call that a draw. Both play Illinois and Purdue from the Leaders Division (Nebraska drilled both, while Michigan State plays each the next two weeks). Draw, again.

But Michigan State has the easier third cross-division foe (vs. Indiana, which it beat; Nebraska plays at Penn State). That’s advantage Michigan State. In Nebraska’s favor – as mentioned above – it entertains Michigan State.

Basically, it’s too early to say with any certainty who will win this thing or how many teams will be in the race. For what it’s worth, I still like Nebraska. I picked them in the preseason and I give them the advantage, based on the home game vs. Michigan State. Prediction: The head-to-head tiebreaker will decide this race.

What say you?

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules:

MICHIGAN STATE (2-0)
vs. Purdue (0-2)
at Illinois (0-1)
vs. Michigan (1-1)
at Nebraska (2-0)
at Northwestern (0-2)
vs. Minnesota (0-2)
Opponents’ record: 3-8

NEBRASKA (2-0)
at Minnesota (0-2)
vs. Northwestern (0-2)
at Michigan (1-1)
vs. Michigan State (2-0)
at Penn State (1-1)
vs. Iowa (1-1)
Opponents’ record: 5-7

MICHIGAN (1-1)
vs. Indiana (1-1)
at Michigan State (2-0)
vs. Nebraska (2-0)
at Northwestern (0-2)
at Iowa (1-1)
vs. Ohio State (2-0)
Opponents’ record: 8-4

IOWA (1-1)
at Ohio State (2-0)
vs. Northwestern (0-2)
vs. Wisconsin (2-1)
at Purdue (0-2)
vs. Michigan (1-1)
at Nebraska (2-0)
Opponents’ record: 7-6

NORTHWESTERN (0-2)
vs. Minnesota (0-2)
at Iowa (1-1)
at Nebraska (2-0)
vs. Michigan (1-1)
vs. Michigan State (2-0)
at Illinois (0-1)
Opponents’ record: 6-5

MINNESOTA (0-2)
at Northwestern (0-2)
vs. Nebraska (2-0)
at Indiana (1-1)
vs. Penn State (1-1)
vs. Wisconsin (2-1)
at Michigan State (2-0)
Opponents’ record: 8-5

And here are the expanded standings:
Legends Division

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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10 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (10 Comments)
Stephen Johnson on 10/15/2013 @ 3:10pm EST Said:

It depends on when the Nebraska defense really starts to master Pelini’s schemes and communication requirements. Michigan state has a good defense already and will really test the Husker offense. It does matter if Taylor Martinez is back and if he is 100%. Personally, I would not play him in the Minn. game regardless of whether he is healthy or not. Once into the meat of the schedule, he goes in. Fortunately we have two good back up quarterbacks. Against Michigan, I might start Ron Kellog lll. He is the best passer of the group and Michigan has a great rush defense. While the Rush offense is Nebraska’s best weapon, I would like to see some creativity from the OC Beck. As opposed to running up the middle for 4 plays and then punt. The game plan needs to look at Michigan’s defense and which quarterback has the right tools to win. Also, if he is not “on” that day, don’t fight, switch. There are no bad choices in our QBs.

JP on 10/15/2013 @ 3:59pm EST Said:

Michigan is the best team in the country…. Just ask them. Go Big Red!!!

Doug on 10/15/2013 @ 7:09pm EST Said:

you say MSU had an easier schedule than Michigan, yet MSU beat down IU, and didn’t IU beat down PSU, a team Michigan just lost too? And both Iowa and IU are better than Minnesota, whom Michigan played in the first week…

Husker0Ntop on 10/15/2013 @ 8:31pm EST Said:

I think this two horse race will come down to two major factors.

The first factor is B1G Home Field Advantage

I give Michigan state the edge here

Michigan state gets the maze and blue at home while Nebraska goes into Ann Arbor where Mr. Hoke does not like to choke. This presents an opportunity for Michigan State to move a game up on Nebraska who also has to go into Happy Valley to play a tough Penn State team. I’m confidant that the Huskers can take care of business at home against the Spartans, but there is still a very good chance they will lay an egg on the road as we have seen Nebraska do at least once if not twice per season since Bo Pelini has taken the job as head coach of the Cornhuskers.

The second factor is Motivation

I give Nebraska the edge here

I believe that if Nebraska can manage to pull off at least one of there road games, they will play Ohio State for the B1G championship where I actually like there chances to win believe it or not. They know this, they believe this, and they want nothing more than to atone for what happened last year at Ohio state and against the Badgers in Indy. I also believe that winning the B1G puts them in the rose bowl against a team that they could not play 4 quarters against earlier this year in UCLA, who is my favorite to win the Pac12 south.

Not Mark Dantonio on 10/15/2013 @ 10:55pm EST Said:

MSU has two gimme crossover games with Illinois and Purdue. Nebraska has Iowa and Penn State which will be a lot tougher. Both teams are good but look for the crossover games to be the difference between the two. MSU vs OSU in Indy.

SChawki on 10/16/2013 @ 8:41am EST Said:

Juz, what have I missed. Hawks played MSU two weeks ago and we found out why their defense is the number 1 defense in the nation. Only one word, Impressive! Granted I think a team with a spread offense will do better with Sparty, but with Cook developing at QB this team is getting better with each week that passes. Nebraska and Michigan are soon to be exposed. Their games against UCLA and Penn St. should have shown everyone somthing, but seems there is still fantasy with these two. When I look at MSU’s remaining schedule there is no one there that can handle them. Their next toughest game is the BIG championship game. That one could be a bit of a challenge for them. Aside from Michigan and Nebraska playing each other, Michigan has 3 defeats and Nebraska has 2 and then the game between them is a coin flip. My projection is 1) MSU, 2) Northwestern, Tied for 3rd) Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and 6) Minnesota

Greg Nielsen on 10/16/2013 @ 11:02am EST Said:

Hey Not Mark Dantonio, Iowa is not a crossover game for Nebraska. Iowa is in our division. Nebraska actually played Illinois and Purdue, just like Michigan State. The difference between the two crossovers is that MSU played Indiana whereas Nebraska will play Penn State. While Penn State is not a team to sleep on, Nebraska has handled them the past two years, and I think they’ll do it again this year.

JP on 10/16/2013 @ 1:36pm EST Said:

Nebraska has never lost to Michigan State. That is all.

Tom on 10/16/2013 @ 9:38pm EST Said:

Nebraska plays such weak schedule ! When you have 8 home games and have the easiest Big Ten schedule! They are so over rated.

John on 10/17/2013 @ 6:08am EST Said:

Motivation? I think the 2012 Nebraska game gives MSU the motivational edge. I would say the “blocking too hard” penalty alone (the one that brought back the pick 6) will serve as motivation enough.

There is a lot of football between now and November 16, we are getting the cart in front of the horse.

I think it is interesting how Penn State is suddenly ahead of IU in the BIG food chain. Of course much of the things that go on in this conference have little to do with what happens on the field. We love our history, especially if it happened before the widespread use of plastic, the invention of automobiles, and eating made it a good day.