Big Ten Legends Preview: Can the Spartans repeat as Big Ten Champs?

The Big Ten Legends division has plenty of talent and it should be exciting to see who will come out on top. Michigan State were co champs of the conference last year, along with Wisconsin and Ohio State. Nebraska will make the division more competitive, and there should be a lot of entertaining games this year. Here is a look at my predicted order of finish and projected records for the Big Ten Legends division:

 1. Michigan State- When you think of Michigan State, you usually think of basketball, but head Coach Mark Dantonio has turned his football team around. The Spartans are coming off an 11-2 campaign. Quarterback Kirk Cousins returns as well. Cousins completed 67% of his passes last season. He also threw for 2,825 yards and 20 touchdowns. Wide receivers B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol are all back too. The ground game for State is also talented. Edwin Baker rushed for over 1,200 yards and had 13 touchdowns. This is considerably the best offense in the Big Ten. The defense will have to replace All-American Greg Jones, but the Spartans have enough talent in the linebacker and safety positions to help balance the defense. The schedule is not too difficult, and the Spartans will be favored in many games. Look for Michigan State to win the division and the conference championship as well. Projected record  12-1

2. Nebraska- The Cornhuskers are new to the conference this year, but have high expectations for this coming season. They recently played in back to back Big 12 Championship games. They also return alot of starters on both sides of the ball. Dual threat quarterback Taylor Martinez is back after a strong freshman season. Martinez combined for 22 touchdowns and over 2500 yards. The Huskers will have to replace running back Roy  Helu Jr. and one of the best kickers in the nation in Alex Henery. Taylor Martinez will have to play better in big games if Nebraska wants to take steps forward and win the conference. At times, the passing game was just pathetic last year, and it must improve especially throwing the ball down field. The defense is loaded, and will keep Nebraska in games if the offense is struggling. Defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David, and cornerbakc Alfonzo Dennard are all pre season All-Americans. The schedule is not easy, but it is manageable. Expect Nebraska to have another successful season, but don’t be surprised if they don’t roll over everyone. Projected record-  10-2

3. Northwestern- The Wildcats have alot of talent returning, and Coach Pat Fitzgerald could have one of his best teams ever in his career in Evanston. Dual threat quarterback Dan Persa returns for his senior season. Persa had a strong season last year. He threw for 2,581 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also ran for over 500 yards and 9 touchdowns. Persa will be the key on Northwestern’s offense. There is not much of a running game besides Persa, and that will need to change if the Wildcats want to have a great season this year. The main problem is the defense which gave up over 30 points a game last year. It will have to improve if Northwestern wants to be better than just an average team. Overall, I expect Northwestern to have a good season, and surprise some people with a few upsets. Projected record 9-3

4. Michigan- The Wolverines have new head Coach Brady Hoke in town after firing Rich Rodriguez. Michigan has alot of talent returning especially on offense. Quarterback Denard Robinson is back, and he threw for over 2500 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Hoke is installing a pro style offense rather than the spread offense they have had over the years. Robinson, who rushed for over 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns is still expected to take off and run at times. The Wolverines passing game is in great shape. Nine of the top ten receivers return including Darryl Stonum, Junior Hemingway, Kevin Kroger, and Roy Roundtree. Expect the Wolverines to put up plenty of points all season long. The problem lies within the defense. Michigan was one of the worst defenese’s in the nation last year, ranking 110th nationally. The front seven will be strong, but the back four has question marks. The Wolverines defense will decide if Michigan will improve from their 7-6 season last year. Expect Michigan to improve, but still struggle in some areas. Projected record  8-4

5. Iowa- The Hawkeyes have alot of questions to answer. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz lost alot of talent last season. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is gone, and star running back Adam Robinson, was dissmissed from the team due to drug charges. James Vanderberg will have to step in and take over after Stanzi’s solid campaign. Marcus Coker will have to replace Robinson, but Coker has experience and rushed for 622 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. Wide out Marvin McNutt is back for his senior year, and he had 53 receptions and 8 touchdowns last year. Outside of McNutt, there is not alot of experience. Some players will have to step up big for the Hawkeyes this season. The defense, if healthy should be in good shape. James Morris, their leading tackler returns and the front seven have experience. If Iowas struggles to score, the defense will have to play even better than they did last season. Projected record  7-5

6. Minnesota- The Golden Gophers are arguably the worst team in the conference this year. Jerry Kill is the new head coach. Marqueis Gray will be the new quarterback, but they don’t have enough playmakers around to do a whole lot of things. Minnesota will struggle on offense and defense. They do have some talent at running back in DeLeon Eskridge, and Duane Bennett. Most of the defense is unproven and there are alot of questions for the Golden Gophers to answer. Expect Minnesota to have a tough season again, and wins will be hard to find. Projected record  3-9

One Response to Big Ten Legends Preview: Can the Spartans repeat as Big Ten Champs?

  1. Wildcat20 says:

    Northwestern better than Michigan?

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