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Last updated: 08/26/2012 1:26 AM
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Football
Tallying up the Final 2012 Big Ten Rankings
By Tony Gerdeman

This is the second year that we've done a Big Ten preview like this, and after last season, I've found that the later you start, the less chance there is that your predictions will be destroyed by a university-wide scandal.

Before even doing this year's rankings, I would have picked Wisconsin and Michigan State to meet again in the Big Ten Championship Game. After tallying the scores, it would seem that any other matchup is almost unlikely.

Sure, these predictions could be wrong, but with the amount of science that has been used to come up with these numbers, I would be very surprised if that actually happened.

[Editor's Note: You will find links to each of Tony's position rankings at the bottom of this article. Please note that since Tony is tallying rankings the LOWER the score the bester.]

Leaders Division

1. Wisconsin
Quarterback      6
Running Back    1
Receiver            6
Offensive Line   1
Defensive Line   6
Linebacker        2
Secondary         3
Special Teams   5
Schedule           1
Coach               2
Total                33

Offense             14
   
Defense            11

Other                8

The Badgers ended up with the second-ranked offense and the third-ranked defense in the conference. Add that in with the easiest schedule in the Big Ten, along the postseason ineligibility of Ohio State, and if Wisconsin doesn't win the Leaders Division this season, it will be one of the great choke jobs in Earthly sports.

2. Ohio State
Quarterback      3
Running Back    5
Receiver            3
Offensive Line   5
Defensive Line   1
Linebacker        6
Secondary         1
Special Teams   2
Schedule           6
Coach               1
Total                33

Offense            16

Defense            8

Other                9

The Buckeyes ended up tying Wisconsin in overall score thanks to everybody moving up one spot in the running back rankings when Penn State's Silas Redd transferred. Ohio State has the second-ranked defense and the third-ranked offense in the conference. The offensive number is a projection, the defensive number could be negated by the linebackers.

3. Purdue
Quarterback      7
Running Back    8
Receiver            4
Offensive Line   6
Defensive Line   3
Linebacker        8
Secondary         6
Special Teams   4
Schedule           8
Coach               8
Total                62

Offense             25

Defense            17

Other                20

Purdue ended up with the fifth-ranked defense in the conference, but they were pretty average in doing so. The defensive line carried them in the rankings, just as they will have to do during the season. Offensively, they ranked seventh, which is yet another indicator of the acute averageness in West Lafayette.

4. Illinois
Quarterback      4
Running Back    6
Receiver            11
Offensive Line    8
Defensive Line   5
Linebacker        7
Secondary         4
Special Teams   11
Schedule            3
Coach                9
Total                 68

Offense             29

Defense            16

Other                23

I'm moderately surprised that Illinois finished behind Purdue in these rankings. The Illini came in with a better defense, but the lack of receivers and special teams moved the Boilermakers ahead. Having the third-easiest schedule may not prove to be much of a benefit for Illinois this season.

5. Penn State
Quarterback     12
Running Back   11
Receiver            8
Offensive Line    9
Defensive Line   7
Linebacker         3
Secondary         9
Special Teams   12
Schedule            7
Coach               11
Total                 89

Offense             40

Defense            19

Other                30

The Nittany Lions find themselves with the 11th-ranked offense in the conference this season. I would like to think that Bill O'Brien will prove that number to be pessimistic, but there is just so little offensive skill on the team right now. Defensively, ranking seventh isn't all bad. Especially when you consider everything else in the program that is "all bad".

6. Indiana
Quarterback       11
Running Back      7
Receiver             10
Offensive Line     10
Defensive Line    10
Linebacker         12
Secondary          11
Special Teams    10
Schedule             4  
Coach                12
Total                  97

Offense              38

Defense              33

Other                 26

When the biggest superlative is the schedule, you know your season is in trouble. There is potential on offense with quarterback Tre Roberson and Kevin Wilson calling the plays. However, they will still have to defend somebody, and they haven't been able to do that in...ever.

Legends Division

1. Michigan State
Quarterback         8
Running Back       4
Receiver               5
Offensive Line      2 
Defensive Line      2
Linebacker           1  
Secondary            2
Special Teams      3
Schedule             11
Coach                  3
Total                  41

Offense               19

Defense               5
   
Other                  17

Michigan State comes in with the best defense by a pretty wide margin, being first or second in every defensive category. Honestly, quarterback might be a little underrated as well, and running back LeVeon Bell could be one of the top two rushers in the conference. It's too bad that the Spartans are gonna blow this.

2. Nebraska
Quarterback        5
Running Back      2
Receiver              2 
Offensive Line     3
Defensive Line     4
Linebacker         10
Secondary           7
Special Teams     1
Schedule             10
Coach                 5
Total                  49

Offense              12

Defense              21

Other                 16

The Cornhuskers finish the rankings with the top offense, though how loudly this prediction rings true will depend on how well Taylor Martinez plays. If he hasn't improved, then it won't really matter that the Huskers have the second-best group of receivers in the conference. But again, the schedule will be too much to overcome.

3. Michigan

Quarterback       1
Running Back     3
Receiver             9
Offensive Line    4
Defensive Line    8
Linebacker         5
Secondary          5
Special Teams    7
Schedule            12
Coach                4
Total                 58

Offense              17

Defense             18

Other                 23

The Wolverines have the top backfield, but the receivers drag them down to just the fourth-best offense. Defensively, they rank in the middle of the pack at sixth overall. Last year, the coaches got more out of the defense than could have been expected. Should the unexpected become expected this year as well? The schedule is a huge black mark on Michigan's chances this year.

4. Iowa
Quarterback       2
Running Back    12
Receiver             1
Offensive Line    7
Defensive Line   12
Linebacker         4
Secondary          8
Special Teams    9
Schedule            2
Coach                6
Total                 63

Offense              22

Defense             24

Other                17

If the Hawkeyes had anybody to carry the ball, or anybody on the defensive line, they would likely be sitting third in the Legends Division ahead of Michigan. Iowa has the ninth-ranked defense, but their second-ranked schedule should be able to bail them out here and there.

5. Northwestern
Quarterback       9
Running Back     9
Receiver             7
Offensive Line    11
Defensive Line    9
Linebacker         9
Secondary         12
Special Teams    6
Schedule            5
Coach                7
Total                 84

Offense             36

Defense             30

Other                18

When Northwestern has the ninth-ranked offense, you know they are in trouble. Generally, the Wildcats' spread offense keeps defenses honest, but that may not be the case this year. This
defense rarely excels, so success will likely be up to quarterback Kain Colter.

6. Minnesota
Quarterback       10
Running Back     10
Receiver             12
Offensive Line     12
Defensive Line    11
Linebacker         11
Secondary          10
Special Teams     8
Schedule             9
Coach                10
Total                 103

Offense              44

Defense              32

Other                  27

There is the distinct possibility that the Gophers could be moderately underrated in these rankings. Quarterback MarQueis Gray is a prototype for Jerry Kill's offense, but they still have to execute. Defensively, there are more pieces to choose from, but again, there hasn't been enough production to actually project more.

How Tony Ranked Them

Ranking the Big Ten
Quarterback Leaders Legends
Running Back Leaders Legends
Receiver Legends Leaders
Offensive Line Leaders Legends
Defensive Line Leaders, Legends
Linebacker Legends Leaders
Secondary Leaders , Legends
Special Teams
Schedules
Coaches

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