Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 9, 2012

No one crunches numbers better than the great Phil Steele. Anyone who has bought one of his preseason magazines knows this. Well, the man of Steele is at it again.

[ Which 2012 Teams Fit the National Championship Fold]

Steele used a combination of 24 different categories/stats from every national title winner and contender from the last 20 years. He crunched the numbers and came up with a list of 11 teams that meet all of the criteria that legitimately fit the national championship mode for 2012.

Florida State
Michigan State
South Carolina

It?s difficult to quibble with Michigan being on this list. The offense should be great with Denard Robinson at the controls, but the defense has work to do in the front seven for a Big Ten that is looking for its first national title since Ohio State won it all in 2002.

Michigan State also is legit, as the Spartan defense again figures to be among the best in the nation. The key in East Lansing: How quickly the offense develops.

Nebraska is a bit of a surprise. The Cornhusker defense must make a leap from average to great. And the offense also needs quarterback Taylor Martinez to develop as a passer. It seems a stretch to include them in this mix.

The omission of Wisconsin is a bit of a surprise. The two-time defending Big Ten champs could have the top offense in the Big Ten again. And the defense should at least be as good as last year?s unit.

And, if Ohio State wasn?t on probation, the Buckeyes likely would have been on this list. In fact, I think Ohio State may be the top team in the Big Ten led by a boffo defense and offense that teems with potential. senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at, 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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