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2012 Big Ten Preview - Legends Team Breakdown
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 15, 2012


Preview 2012 - CFN Big Ten Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2012

Big Ten Legends Team By Team


LEADERS
- 2012 Illinois Preview | 2012 Indiana Preview
- 2012 Ohio State Preview | 2012 Penn State Preview 
- 2012 Purdue Preview | 2012 Wisconsin Preview

LEGENDS
- 2012 Iowa Preview | 2012 Michigan Preview
- 2012 Michigan State Preview | 2012 Minnesota Preview  
- 2012 Nebraska Preview | 2012 Northwestern Preview  

- 2012 Big Ten Preview
- 2012 Big Ten Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big Ten Leaders Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2012 Big Ten Legends Team Looks & Predicted Finish  

1. Michigan State
2012 CFN Prediction: 11-1
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 7-1

Offense: Welcome to the power running game. It's not like the Spartans are going to abandon the passing game, but with a new starting quarterback and with all the top targets from last year gone, it might take a little while to get things going through the air like last season. However, the line will be among the best in the Big Ten with four returning starters and fabulous depth to work into the rotation. Blasting away will be 240-pound running back Le'Veon Bell, who has all the tools and ability to be one of the nation's breakout players as he gets the bulk of the work behind the great line. Andrew Maxwell is a good-looking quarterback, and Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett leads a receiving corps that will turn out to be fine, but MSU will get physical behind Bell and the line as much as possible.

Defense:
After finishing sixth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in total defense, the Spartans should be even better. Even with the loss of DT Jerel Worthy and FS Trenton Robinson, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has a heater of a defense to work with. The linebacking corps should be dominant with three terrific starters returning led by big-hitter Max Bullough in the middle and pass rushing terror Denicos Allen on the outside. The loss of Worthy up front hurts, but there's plenty of size in the interior and a dominant pair of ends on the outside in William Gholston and Marcus Rush to get excited about. Johnny Adams should be one of the nation's top corners as part of a great-looking secondary, but unlike the front seven, the depth in the defensive backfield is a concern.

2. Michigan
2012 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 6-2

Offense: The offense might not have been as explosive as it was under Rich Rodriguez – finishing eighth in the nation in 2010 – but it didn't have to be thanks to a defense that didn't force the O to push to keep pace. The 2011 attack might have dipped a bit in total yards, but the running game stayed strong thanks to another phenomenal season from QB Denard Robinson. With Robinson and emerging star Fitzgerald Toussaint, the Wolverines have a 1-2 rushing punch that should combine for well over 2,000 yards if everything goes according to plan. The backfield is terrific and the line, with a little tweaking, will be more than fine if everyone stays healthy. The problem is a receiving corps that took a step back last season and needs Roy Roundtree to bounce back to 2010 form and Jeremy Gallon to shine as a possible No. 1 target.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison did exactly what the team program needed him to do. Michigan turned its experience and savvy up front into a pass rushing machine with pressure coming from all angles and sides in a night-and-day improvement overall from previous seasons. Losing heart-and-soul linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen is a problem, and now it's up to Will Campbell and the tackles to step up and become rocks on the inside so Craig Roh and the speedy pass rushers can shine. Kenny Demens leads a strong linebacking corps helped by the expected emergence of Desmond Morgan into a statistical star, while the loaded secondary is deep at corner and experienced at safety.

3. Nebraska
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 4-4

Offense: The goal for the offense when coordinator Tim Beck took over last season was to simplify everything to make the attack faster and more efficient to keep defenses on their heels. The problem, though, was that the O came down to Taylor Martinez or Rex Burkhead running over and over and over again. The passing game was efficient at times, but that was only because the ground attack did all the heavy lifting. The line is going to be okay, not elite, but it should just good enough to get the job done for the running game. Can Martinez and Burkhead hold up to combine for over 450 carries again? There are some home run hitters in the backfield behind Burkhead, and there's a veteran receiving corps that could break out with more of an emphasis on the passing game, but a consistent third offensive option has to emerge to take the pressure off the two main men.

Defense: New defensive coordinator John Papuchis isn't going to change much after working as Nebraska's defensive line coach. Can he bring more consistency to a promising D that finished 37th in the nation and seventh in the Big Ten in yards allowed, but did nothing to get into the backfield? The Huskers finished dead last in the league in tackles for loss and need end Cameron Meredith and tackle Baker Steinkuhler to be even more active. The linebacking corps loses tackling machine Lavonte David, but Will Compton is a strong hitter in the middle and there are just enough good prospects to get by. The strength of the defense will be a secondary that won't have any problems replacing corner Alfonzo Dennard. Daimion Stafford should be one of the Big Ten's best safeties, while JUCO transfer Mohammed Seisay has the potential to be an instant star at one corner.

T4. Iowa
2012 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 3-5

Offense: New offensive coordinator Greg Davis has to get extremely creative. The offense struggled with its consistency and struggled way too much to score. The Hawkeyes 7-1 when they scored 24 points or more and 0-5 when scoring fewer, and it's going to be a bit of a fight this year to find any pop with a retooled line, no real running back to rely on, and a shaky receiving corps. Senior James Vandenberg is a good veteran quarterback to build around, but he loses top target Marvin McNutt to rely on and needs a few unknowns to grow into instant helpers to go next to Keenan Davis. With Marcus Coker gone and Jordan Canzeri out with a knee injury, the running game might rely on a few true freshmen if Damon Bullock or De'Andre Johnson can't step up and shine. The biggest change under Davis will be tempo. He's going to try to speed things up a bit and do more to stretch the field, but that might be easier said than done with so many new starters to work with.

Defense: New defensive coordinator Phil Parker has enough good veterans in the back seven to hope for a decent year, but the Iowa D that was average at best last year isn't likely to be much better talent-wise. However, it's going to be far, far more aggressive and it should be far more disruptive. The strength is at linebacker where top tackles James Morris and Christian Kirksey should clean up everything the green line can handle. The defensive front has to go through some major changes and doesn't have any veteran depth to count on, but tackling won't be a problem in the back with the veteran linebacking corps along with a good-hitting secondary. Micah Hyde should be one of the Big Ten's better corners, but more picks and more game-changing plays have to come from the other spots.

T4. Northwestern
2012 CFN Prediction: 5-7
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 3-5

Offense: Offensive coordinator Mick McCall was able to get 29 points and 421 yards per game out of an inconsistent attack, but there are plenty of areas that need lots and lots of work. It all starts up front with a line that couldn't pass protect and couldn't blast away for the running game. There's plenty of height and experience, but the production has to be better. It would help to have a good No. 1 running back to work around, and there are plenty of options with Treyvon Green likely the best on the lot. The best runner is quarterback Kain Colter, a baller who was excellent when pressed into duty early on. Now he has to be a better deep ball passer and has to make the green receiving corps better.

Defense: A massive disappointment last season considering all the starters that returned and with so much hope, the defense was miserable at getting into the backfield and everything else suffered. The secondary struggled and the linebackers weren't able to make enough big plays against the run. It's not exactly a rebuilding process as it is a revamping one. The call has gone out to be far more aggressive, and now the athletes are in place in the front four to be more disruptive. The linebacking corps can move, and the secondary has several excellent athletes. However, this is a young, YOUNG defense that might have to go through a year of taking lumps with the payoff to come in 2013.

6. Minnesota
2012 CFN Prediction: 5-7
2012 Big Ten Prediction: 1-7

Offense: Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover has some work to do. It's a relatively young group, but there's plenty of promise on the line with several good blockers to build around and a slew of decent quick backs who should be able to come up with decent yards from time to time. The problem is the lack of explosion for an offense that finished last in the Big Ten in both scoring offense and total yards with too many mistakes and not enough consistency. While the running backs, receivers and line will be a work in progress and should get better as the year goes on, but it will come down to senior QB MarQueis Gray and how far he can carry the team. He has the talent, but he has to make everyone around him better and he has to be a better passer to go along with his tremendous rushing skills.

Defense: It might not have seemed like it, but there was a good improvement on defense in the first year under defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys. The pass rush that was the worst in the nation in 2010 was a bit better with more aggressiveness and attacking from the front seven, and despite some rocky performances here and there the D improved as the year went on. The back seven should be better helped by the healthy return of corner Troy Stoudermire and with Mike Rallis about to put up huge numbers at middle linebacker. Even though the pass rush was better, it needs to be more consistent and more dangerous with veterans on the outside and with a pair of quick tackles in Ra'Shede Hageman and JUCO transfer Roland Johnson inside.

LEADERS
- 2012 Illinois Preview | 2012 Indiana Preview
- 2012 Ohio State Preview | 2012 Penn State Preview 
- 2012 Purdue Preview | 2012 Wisconsin Preview

LEGENDS
- 2012 Iowa Preview | 2012 Michigan Preview
- 2012 Michigan State Preview | 2012 Minnesota Preview  
- 2012 Nebraska Preview | 2012 Northwestern Preview  

- 2012 Big Ten Preview
- 2012 Big Ten Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big Ten Leaders Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2012 Big Ten Legends Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
 
 















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