With divisions like Leaders and Legends, you’d expect the B1G to be a force, but that hasn’t really been the case. Plus those are lame names anyways. Calling them Lancaster and York and the B1G Title game the War for the Rose would at least be clever. Both the SEC and Big 12 have been more aggressive in expansion, with the former grabbing Missouri from the B1G. It doesn’t help that Wisconsin has lost the last two Rose Bowls, the conference’s signature bowl game. If Michigan loses to Bama in the first weekend, then the conference’s prestige will take another hit.

More Previews: ACC, Big 12, Big East

Lancaster (Leaders)
1) Wisconsin
The Badgers will count on yet another transfer QB to head their offense in Danny O’Brien. He’ll have a huge asset in Heisman finalist Montee Ball who will be running all over B1G defenses. That’s needed since the receiving corps has tons of question marks. The defense is loaded and could be elite with more help from the pass rush. LBs Mike Taylor and Chris Borland are tackling machines and the secondary has CB Devin Smith and safety tandem Shelton Johnson and Dezmen Southward. Like traditional Badger teams this one will be focused on the run and a stout defense.

2) Ohio State
When Meyer was hired as the Buckeyes’ coach, every writer in America immediately wrote about the team’s ‘Urban Renewal’ as if they were the only one who thought of it. The talent is there on offense, led by QB Braxton Miller, but they lack a certain explosiveness and star power. The defense will carry the team as it should be among the best in the conference. DT Jonathan Hankins and DE John Simon could both  be playing on Sundays in the future. While the LBs don’t have talent of past versions, the secondary is deep and could be in the top tier in the country.

3) Penn State
With the Sandusky scandal effectively over and the sanctions handed down, Bill O’Brien has an enormous task ahead of him. The Nittany Lions won’t fall as far as some predict, due to the returning talent. The offense was pretty bad last season and should be the same this year. There are plenty of options, but no standout players. The defense will the rock as it always has been. If Michael Mauti can stay healthy, he’ll team with Gerald Hodges and Glenn Carson to form a top-shelf LB unit. The secondary has speed and athleticism would should help a D-line that lost Devon Still and Jack Crawford.

4) Illinois
The good news for the Illini offense is they return playmaking QB Nathan Scheelhaase. The good news is they lost WR AJ Jenkins. That leaves a receiving group long on speed but short on playmakers. Josh Ferguson needs to step up and take the #1 RB role, as well as the O-line. The defense lost Whitney Mercilus but still has DT Akeem Spence and DE Michael Buchanan. The LBs are also adept at getting into the backfield. As long as those two groups do well, the secondary should be alright.

5) Purdue
The Boilermakers have three QBs capable of starting, but settling on one could be an ongoing issue. Whoever it is has weapons at both receiver and running back to help out, but injuries could expose the lack of depth up front. Depth is also a concern among a defense that gave up lots of points and yards on a consistent basis last year. The starters as a whole are a solid bunch, with DE Ryan Russell, DTs Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston as well as corner duo Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson, being major contributors.

6) Indiana
The Hoosiers will have a tall order in improving, but have the pieces to…awww hell who am I kidding? They were terrible last season. Use whatever negative sounding superlative you want. Both the offense and defense ranked at the bottom in the country and there just wasn’t talent on the team. I mean their only win last season come against an FCS team.  They were never any good when I was there for undergrad and won’t get better anytime soon.

York (Legends)
1) Michigan 
Hoke springs eternal yet again in Ann Arbor and will have a tough time duplicating last season’s success. Denard Robinson is a dynamic offensive force who must cut down on interceptions. He has some talent with him in the running game and the receivers, while deep, need someone to be that #1 guy. The line O-line loses David Molk, but has pieces to keep going strong. The defense was the biggest reason for the turnaround. Losing leaders like Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen will hurt the front line, but it has an excellent back seven. The LBs are strong and disruptive, while the secondary has depth and experience.

2) Michigan State
Le’Veon Bell is set to be the focal point of the Spartan offense now that Kirk Cousins is gone. Luckily the RB has a very stout O-line to create holes for him. The overhaul at both QB and WR is what might hold the team back and gives the slight edge to their rivals in the division race. However, the defense laone will keep them in the conference picture. William Gholston is a beast at DE and the three starting LBs form an intimidating second level. The secondary isn’t as good as the front seven but still is better then most.

3) Nebraska
QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead led an excellent running game for the Huskers. Problem is, those two were forced to carry the offense at times when the passing game couldn’t get going. Getting the air attack going is a key for the offense. The team was uncharacteristically bad on defense last season and several guys must step up, including DE Cameron Meredith and LB Will Compton. The secondary, despite losing Alfonzo Dennard, will be a strength with good depth including S Daimion Stafford, who has All-B1G potential.

4) Iowa
QB James Vendenberg might be the lone bright spot on the Hawkeye offense this season. He’s a savvy vet who must deal with a rebuilt line, no standout RB and an uncertain receiving corps. At least he has TE C.J. Fiedorowicz as a target. The team will go as far as the defense carries it. There are players with skill including LBs James Morris and Christian Kirksey and CB Micah Hyde, but the unit as a whole needs to be more aggressive.

5) Northwestern
Pat Fitzgerald seems like he always has NW ready to break out, but this season will be more difficult then most. Kain Colter is an athletic QB, but must deal with a O-line that couldn’t pass protect and lack of a #1 RB. He does have WR Demetrius Fields as a top target. The defense was a big letdown last season and couldn’t get into the opposing backfield on a somewhat consistent basis. The back seven wasn’t able to make enough big plays to keep them in games. On the other hand, there’s no where to go but up.

6) Minnesota
To say the Gophers have work to do would be an understatement. The offense lacks explosion and big play ability while the skill positions are a work-in-progress. Senior QB MarQueis Gray is the only mentionable player and will have to do a lot by himself. The defense, while making incremental improvements, still has a very long way to go.