College Football Preview: Big Ten Legends Division

Sportsbook.ag College Football Preview: Big Ten Legends

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. Next up is the Big Ten Legends division whose top three teams combined for 31 wins last season.

Odds to win Big 10 Championship Game:
3-to-1: Michigan
7-to-2: Nebraska
9-to-2: Michigan State
20-to-1: Iowa
60-to-1: Northwestern
100-to-1: Minnesota

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 8-4-1
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 33.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 17.4 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8

This could be the season for the Wolverines to return to the Rose Bowl. The offensive line is losing two starters, but luckily Michigan will not have to replace the untied shoes of senior QB Denard Robinson (2,173 pass yds, 20 TD; 1,176 rush yds, 16 TD). Not only is the Heisman Trophy candidate back, but so is his top running back, senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (1,041 rush yds, 9 TD). Toussaint was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested for DUI in mid-July. If a wide receiver can emerge and be at least almost as productive as Junior Hemingway was last year, the Wolverines offense could be one of the most explosive in the country. Defensively, three starters in the secondary return along with what should be one of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten. A Labor Day Weekend upset over Alabama (in Texas) would put Michigan in the national title conversation for sure, but road games at Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State also linger.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (5-3 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 4-8-1
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 29.2 PP
Points Allowed: 23.4 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7

The switch to the Big Ten didn’t go as well as Nebraska had hoped, as the Huskers finished 5-3 in conference play, which included a stunning home loss to Northwestern. This year, the Cornhuskers have another legitimate chance to win the Big Ten. QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead return to the option offense where they rushed for 874 yards and 1,357 yards, respectively. The lack of wide receivers on this team is an issue, but there’s no doubt Nebraska’s offense will still be powerful with those two in the backfield. The defense should be sufficient as well, as the Huskers return seven starters. But it won’t be a typical dominant Blackshirts defense, as they lack proven playmakers on that side of the ball. Nebraska at least gets to host Wisconsin and Michigan this year after losing to both teams on the road last season.

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MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-3 (7-1 in Big Ten
ATS Record: 10-4
Over/Under: 7-7
Points Scored: 31.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.4 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 8

After a season that almost ended in a trip to the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are looking to take the next step. Offensively, they are losing almost all of their skill players, but QB Andrew Maxwell (18-for-26, 171 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) and RB Le’Veon Bell (948 rush yds, 13 TD) seem as though they are ready to make an impact. MSU will have one of the best offensive lines in college football in 2012 as the Spartans return four of last year’s starters. Defensively, they lost Jerel Worthy, but both William Gholston (five sacks) and Marcus Rush (4 sacks) are still around to pressure the quarterback. The Spartans should have a dominant pass rush as they have the size and depth to cause nightmares for opposing offenses. The Spartans will need to recover from their lost talent in a hurry, as they’ll host Boise State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State within their first five games.

IOWA HAWKEYES

2011 Statistics
SU Record: 7-6 (4-4 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 27.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.8 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5

It’s hard to rule out the Hawkeyes with Kirk Ferentz and the rest of his brilliant coaching staff, but this team has plenty of reasons for concern entering 2012. Iowa lost its star running back, Marcus Coker, and receiver, Marvin McNutt. QB James Vandenberg made great strides last year (3,022 pass yds, 25 TD, 7 INT), but he doesn’t have a lot of proven receivers to rely on. Iowa is going to struggle running the ball behind an inexperienced offensive line, and the team could falter defensively as well. The Hawkeyes return their leading tackler James Morris (52 solo tackles, 58 assists), but they lose their two best players in the secondary. Iowa has a plethora of young recruits at skill positions, but ultimately this team is too inexperienced to compete for a conference title.

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (3-5 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 28.9 PP
Points Allowed: 27.7 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6

The Wildcats were second in the Big Ten last year with 470 total YPG, and they should be near the front of the pack again this year in terms of offensive firepower. Dual-threat QB Kain Colter was decent in his time starting last year (6 pass TD, 1 INT; 654 rush yds, 9 TD) and his running skills will team with sophomore RB Treyvon Green’s (362 yds, 4 TD) to tire out opposing defensive lines. Northwestern also should have solid play from its wide receivers this year. Defensively, the team is stacked with talent at linebacker, but has little depth at the other positions. It was a long 2011 season on the defensive side of the ball last year (408 YPG allowed), and if nobody is able to provide stability on the defensive line or in the secondary, it could be more of the same in 2012

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 7-5
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 18.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 31.7 PPG

Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)

2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 6

The Golden Gophers had a difficult first year under head coach Jerry Kill, but things should go a lot smoother this time around. QB MarQueis Gray has all the tools to be an effective player in an offense that desperately needs him. Gray is a dual threat who will likely lead Minnesota in both passing and rushing in this coming season. The team lacks talent at both the RB and WR positions. Defensively, leading tackler Mike Rallis (83 tackles) returns, but outside of him, there isn’t much to get excited about. This team had a lot of trouble stopping opponents last year (31.7 PPG allowed), so it’s hard to be optimistic about the fact that the Gophers return the majority of their defensive starters.

Cole Ryan

Cole Ryan

Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.

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