staff, June 12, 2013

No category, it seems, is more difficult to predict on a yearly basis than interceptions. Sure, we know who the best cover guys are in the league every year, but that's not always who finds himself on top of the leaderboard. Last year, there was a quartet of guys who led the Big Ten, with four interceptions. Only Landon Feichter returns from the group. Will he repeat in 2013? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks.

2012 leader: Devin Smith, Wisconsin; Travis Howard, Ohio State; Michael Carter, Minnesota; Landon Feichter, Purdue - 4
2013 returning leader: Landon Feichter, Penn State - 4

Tom: Ricardo Allen, Purdue – He?ll be the first to tell you that he had a sub-par junior season, making just one interception. This guy is a playmaker, already tied for the school?s all-time lead with three interception returns for touchdowns. Allen wants to finish his tenure with a bang and leave as one of the school?s best ever. In 2010, he was a Freshman All-American after tallying three picks and starting all 12 games. In 2011, Allen had a team-high three picks. The diminutive Allen (5-9) has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and plays bigger than he is. And he?ll benefit from playing behind a strong line that should generate a strong pass rush.
Dark horse: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

[ RELATED: View all of our preseason stat predictions ]

Brent: Nick VanHoose, Northwestern – VanHoose picked off three passes as a true freshman, one off the Big Ten lead, and he did so despite missing three games to injury. Another year under his belt, VanHoose should be even more comfortable and more up to the challenge of taking on Big Ten receivers. Now, quarterbacks may shy away from his side of the field – the ultimate sign of respect for a cornerback – but the sophomore is a playmaker who lines up for a team that often finds itself in close, high-scoring games that call for opponents to throw the ball and look for late scores. That means VanHoose should see his share of opportunities to defend passes.
Dark horse: Derrick Wells, Minnesota

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