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Can Taylor Martinez lead the Cornhuskers to a Big Ten title?
It has been a difficult year for the Big Ten, especially with only two teams ranked after Week 10. The conference's best team (Ohio State) is ineligible to win the championship, while Penn State is also banned from postseason play. The battle to win the Leaders Division appears to be down to Wisconsin and Indiana, while the Legends Division is a tight race between Michigan and Nebraska.
Nebraska or Michigan: Which Team Wins the Legends Division in 2012?
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
This seems obvious, doesn’t it? Nebraska already defeated Michigan, and the Cornhuskers finish up with Penn State and Minnesota at home and Iowa on the road. Michigan has Ohio State on the road and two other games. The schedule is immensely favorable to Nebraska, and even if the Cornhuskers get into trouble, they’ve shown they can respond with two Big Ten wins in which they’ve trailed in the fourth quarter and a third in which they’ve trailed in the third. Barring misstep, I’m taking Nebraska.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Each has one game that I feel is a loss. Michigan's is a sure thing at Ohio State as the Buckeyes will be playing their Super Bowl with a chance to completely ruin the Wolverines trip to Pasadena. Therefore, Nebraska would have to loss two games the rest of the way to miss out on the Big Ten championship game. So even if the Huskers slip-up against a very good Penn State team, it would have to lose again to either Minnesota (at home) or Iowa (road) in one of the final two games. Give me Big Red to match-up with...Big Red (either Wisconsin or, gasp, Indiana) in the Big Ten Championship game.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
With essentially a one-game lead (thanks to a head-to-head win), Nebraska will win the Legends Division. The Cornhuskers and Wolverines are tied with one Big Ten loss, but Michigan lost 23-9 in Lincoln in late October. For the Wolverines to win the division, they need two losses by Nebraska. Finding two defeats on the schedule for the Cornhuskers isn’t easy, especially since they play Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa. Nebraska could easily lose to Iowa on the road or this Saturday against Penn State, but one loss really doesn’t help Michigan. The Wolverines still have to play at Ohio State in the season finale, which the Buckeyes figure to be favored to win. It’s not impossible, but I don’t see a scenario where Michigan is able to win the Legends Division title. Barring a complete collapse, Nebraska will play for the Big Ten title in December.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Nebraska basically clinched the Legends Division by beating Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State in the last three weeks. The Cornhuskers are tied with Michigan at 4–1 but have the tie-breaker due to their win in Lincoln on Oct. 27. The Huskers’ closing schedule is relatively soft, with home games against Penn State and Minnesota and a game at struggling Iowa. Michigan still has to play Northwestern and at Ohio State. This race is over!
I give the edge to Nebraska because the Cornhuskers hold the tie-breaker over the Wolverines in the first place, and the uncertainty surrounding the health of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Both teams sit 4-1 in the Legends Division, but again Nebraska has a game in hand on Michigan thanks to its 23-9 head-to-head win on Oct. 27. Both teams could end up losing this week as the Cornhuskers host Penn State and the Wolverines take on Northwestern, potentially without Robinson. After Nebraska plays Penn State, it has Minnesota and Iowa left on its schedule, while Michigan still has a date in Columbus on Thanksgiving weekend to play Ohio State. Since the Buckeyes are ineligible for the postseason, this will be their bowl game, and an undefeated season may also be on the line for Urban Meyer's team. Michigan already had a tougher road to the Big Ten title game than Nebraska to begin with, and now the questions about Robinson's playing status only increase the degree of difficulty. By virtue of that victory in Lincoln in late October, Nebraska will spend the first Saturday of December in Indianapolis playing for the Big Ten championship and a spot in a BCS bowl.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I think it’s clearly the Cornhuskers. Nebraska has the tiebreaker with its 23-9 victory over Michigan, and I believe the Wolverines still have a Big Ten loss awaiting them against Ohio State in the season finale. Additionally, NU should be favored by a touchdown or more in its three remaining games versus Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa. The Huskers have won three in a row, and it’s no coincidence that Ameer Abdullah has three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. The sophomore back has been solid during Rex Burkhead’s absence, and quarterback Taylor Martinez had an excellent rushing game in last week’s win over Michigan State. The defense still has some issues, but nothing that would prevent Nebraska from winning the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl.
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