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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 83 the national title. His other marquee team, from a historical perspective, is Nebraska, and the Huskers are trying to work their way back to a national championship level. "To be a marquee program you have to have won at a national championship level and those four schools have done that," Mason said. Ohio State and Penn State are the two highest ranked teams in most of the early preseason lists with the Buck- eyes coming in at No. 2 and Penn State No. 6 by Athlon. "I like Penn State to win it because it has two of the best offensive players in Trace McSorley and Saquon Bar- kley," BTN analyst Tom Dienhart said when assessing what he expects to be a close race in each division. "But (Ohio State coach) Urban Meyer is not paid $5 million a year to finish second, and (quarterback) J.T. Barrett is back. And more than anything, the new coaching staff with (former Indiana head coach turned Buckeyes' new offensive coordinator) Kevin Wilson is going to make a big difference. Wilson does exactly what Urban Meyer likes to do offensively. He had a great offense at Indiana, and now he has Ohio State talent. Remember what he did at Oklahoma with Sam Bradford." BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo and Mason like Ohio State in the East. All three analysts, including Dienhart, have Wisconsin as the slight favorite in the West with five teams figuring to be in the mix. Balance Of Power Along Mason's line of thinking, and for that matter just about everyone else that covers the league, the divisions are not equal. And they likely never will be as long as three of the elite programs remain in the East Division. DiNardo agrees, but doesn't see any changes while Jim Delany remains commissioner. "I was a fan of (the) Leaders and Legends (Divisions), a fan of balanced divisional play," said DiNardo, who coached at Indiana from 2002-04. "I think both of these divisions are very predictable, so when you look at the East, you always have the four we have spoken about (including Michigan State). It is just not equal." In fact, the East has won all three Big Ten champion- ship games, though the last two have gone down to the wire. Still, if history is any teacher, the East dominance will continue. Who Benefits Most From Recruiting Rule Changes? The NCAA recently voted on an early signing period that will allow recruits to sign their letter as early as De- cember 20-23. That's about 45 days earlier than it has been for many years when the sole National Signing Day was always the first Wednesday in February. With the proposal's passage, prospects also will be al- lowed to take official visits, paid for by the school, from April 1 of their junior year through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Before the change, official visits were not allowed before Sept. 1 of a prospect's senior year. Ohio State Athletics Urban Meyer has reloaded the Buckeyes into a consensus top-five preseason national ranking. Playing Penn State at home in late October just might give the Buckeyes the edge. Final 2016 Big Ten Standings East Division Standings Conference Pct. Division Pct. Overall Pct. Penn State 8-1 0.889 5-1 0.833 11-3 0.786 Ohio State 8-1 0.889 5-1 0.833 11-2 0.846 Michigan 7-2 0.778 5-1 0.833 10-3 0.769 Indiana 4-5 0.444 3-3 0.500 6-7 0.462 Maryland 3-6 0.333 2-4 0.333 6-7 0.462 Michigan State 1-8 0.111 1-5 0.167 3-9 0.250 Rutgers 0-9 0.000 0-6 0.000 2-10 0.167 West Division Standings Conference Pct. Division Pct. Overall Pct. Wisconsin 7-2 0.778 6-0 1.000 11-3 0.786 Iowa 6-3 0.667 4-2 0.667 8-5 0.615 Nebraska 6-3 0.667 4-2 0.667 9-4 0.692 Minnesota 5-4 0.556 3-3 0.500 9-4 0.692 Northwestern 5-4 0.556 3-3 0.500 7-6 0.538 Illinois 2-7 0.222 0-6 0.000 3-9 0.250 Purdue 1-8 0.111 1-5 0.167 3-9 0.250

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