Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 174 of 267

certainly will be decided by Ohio State and Wisconsin. In 2014, the Big Ten will introduce new divisions, decided by geography and featuring East and West designations, and the debate over which side is better will rage on. For now, though, it's expected the Legends will lord over the Leaders in competitiveness. The Big Two and Little Ten: When The Big Ten put Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions, it did so likely envisioning a blockbuster championship game matchup between the two dominant programs, drawing the type of television ratings it could use in future broadcast negotiations. That hasn't happened yet, with Wisconsin meeting Michigan State (in 2011) and Nebraska (in 2012), while U-M and OSU have battled back from dark eras in their programs' storied histories. However, with Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting at levels unmatched by any other schools in the Big Ten, both Michigan and Ohio State are poised to reclaim their hold on the conference. That could happen as early as this season, giving the league that dream matchup it has longed for. The possible meeting in Indianapolis Dec. 7 could foreshadow a decade of excellence by the Big Two. Scheduling imperfections: With 12 teams playing eight conference games, there will never be a perfect way to balance the schedule so that every contender faces an equally difficult slate. However, this year, both Michigan State and Nebraska face decidedly more favorable schedules than Michigan and Northwestern. MSU doesn't have to play Wisconsin, Penn State or Ohio State — teams that went 18-6 in league play in 2012 — and will face eight league foes that combined to go 27-39. Nebraska avoids Wisconsin, Ohio State and Indiana and plays opponents that also were 27-39. Michigan and Northwestern, meanwhile, both see the Buckeyes, with U-M playing Penn State and NU seeing Wisconsin. The Wolverines will play eight conference foes with a combined record of 35-31 last year while the Wildcats will see competitors that were 32-34 in 2012. Big Ten Coaches Power Rankings 1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: In his first season, led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record, adding to an already-impressive résumé. 2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: Posted three consecutive winning seasons from 2010-12, the first MSU boss to do so since George Perles (1985-90). 3. Brady Hoke, Michigan: Has the Wolverines back on track with 11- and eight-win campaigns, but is still seeking his first Big Ten title. 4. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: Has led Nebraska to 10-win seasons in three of his five years and is the reigning Legends Division champ. 5. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Has replaced Iowa's Kirk Ferentz as the Big Ten coach that accomplishes the most with the least talent. 6. Bill O'Brien, Penn State: In an impossible situation following the sanctions levied at Penn State, he led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record. 7. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: Has faded fast from the 11-2 season he enjoyed in 2009, going 8-5, 7-6 and 4-8 in the three years since. 8. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin: A successful four-year stint at Utah State (26-24) earned him a career opportunity in Madison. 9. Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Improved Indiana's win total by three, to 4-8 in 2012, and would gladly take another three-win jump this fall. 10. Jerry Kill, Minnesota: Appears on the verge of a breakthrough winning season after directing the Gophers to a 6-7 mark last year. 11. Darrell Hazell, Purdue: First-year coach who led Kent State to unprecedented success (11-3 record) during 2012 campaign. 12. Tim Beckman, Illinois: Many in Champaign are already calling for his ouster after one lousy season (2-10) with the Illini. In his first year as head coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer guided the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record, but the team could not take part in any postseason play. photo by lon horwedel

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