Big Ten preview: Ohio State has best chance to snap SEC title run
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter August 27, 2013 10:22PM
Updated: August 27, 2013 10:33PM
The sanctions are finally over at Ohio State. This year, an undefeated season actually will matter. That should sit well with the SEC haters in the Big Ten who would like to see an end to the SEC’s seven-year run of national championships.
The Buckeyes provide the best hope for the Big Ten to break that streak.
Just as the SEC is miles ahead of the rest of college football, Ohio State sits as far ahead of the rest of the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes compete in the woeful Leaders Division, one that looks more like a group of mid-majors. Illinois, Indiana and Purdue would be lucky to say they outplayed the Buckeyes in a single quarter, and Penn State is ineligible for postseason play.
That leaves Wisconsin, which has a talented group of offensive players but has yet to name a quarterback, just like a number of other Big Ten teams.
So even without its superior talent on both sides of the ball, Ohio State can stake its claim to the division merely because it returns quarterback Braxton Miller, an early favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. To make it even easier on the Buckeyes, they play the Badgers at home.
The Legends Division, considered a four-team race among Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska, is heavy on offense. The Spartans are considered to be the great equalizer with the conference’s best defense.
Northwestern, Michigan and Nebraska boast talented runners at quarterback in Kain Colter, Devin Gardner and Taylor Martinez, respectively. If any of those teams beats Ohio State in the conference championship, it will be because of a great performance at quarterback.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Braxton Miller,
Heisman Trophy candidate could lead Buckeyes to more than a Big Ten championship.
QB Taylor Martinez,
Four-year starter with an unorthodox throwing motion will need to be more dynamic in the passing game.
QB Devin Gardner,
This time last season, Gardner was playing wide receiver. He should benefit from spending all of training camp under center.
DT Bruce Gaston,
Staying healthy is the key for arguably the conference’s best D-lineman.
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State
Anchor of the conference’s best defense will have his hands full facing a group of athletic quarterbacks.
Nebraska vs. UCLA
Best game featuring a Big Ten team during non-conference play.
>>>> Sept. 28
Wisconsin at Ohio State
De facto Leaders Division champ-ionship is the conference opener for both teams.
Ohio State at Northwestern
Potential preview of the Big Ten Championship Game.
Penn State at Ohio State
The Nittany Lions’ bowl game.
Nebraska at Michigan
Legends Division race will start to get interesting.
Michigan State at Northwestern
For the right to play Ohio State.
Ohio State at Michigan
Rivalry game with national implications.
BY THE NUMBERS
7 - Starters Ohio State has to replace on defense.
2002 - Last season the Big Ten had a national champion (Ohio State defeated Miami).
6 - Rushing touchdowns Michigan State allowed last season.