Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, August 2, 2012

The USAToday preseason poll is out. And, stop me if you have heard this before: LSU is No. 1 followed by Alabama-the teams that played for the BCS title after last season. Please, football gods, don?t give us a rematch. Interestingly, Bama had more first-place votes (20) than LSU (18).

The Big Ten is well-represented.

Michigan is No. 8.
Wisconsin is No. 12.
Michigan State is No. 13.
Nebraska is No. 16.

Since Ohio State is on probation, it won?t be ranked by the Coaches? Poll.

As I said in my analysis of the Sporting News poll, Michigan at No. 8 seems high. It?s the defense that gives me pause. Do the Wolverines REALLY have a defense worthy of a top-10 ranking?'s Stewart Mandel tends to agree. Check out this tweet from him:

Wisconsin is a nice fit at No. 12-even with Montee Ball?s status uncertain. The offense should be explosive once again. And the defense always is underrated for what is the hottest program in the conference aiming for a third Big Ten title in a row. Why is this team underrated every year?

Michigan State is the Big Ten team that I think should be ranked highest. Games are won in the trenches. And no Big Ten school has a better set of lines than the Spartans.

Nebraska? No. 16? Seems high. A spot from 20-25 would have been more apt, given the questions about the Husker defense.

Amazingly, no Big Ten teams were in the "receiving votes" category after the Top 25. I think three teams deserved some merit: Illinois, Iowa and Purdue. I think all three could pop into the polls at some point this season. In fact, the Fighting Illini and Boilermakers may be dark horses in the Leaders.

But then again, these things aren't an exact science. 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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