The inaugural Legends Division season featured a tightly contested battle for the top spot between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans eventually prevailed, winning the division with a 7-1 league record, but the odds makers at TheGreek.com are expecting the Wolverines to exact revenge this season. 2012 Big Ten Legends Division Odds and Picks at the offshore book have Michigan listed as a 5-4 favorite ($100 to 2in $125) to represent the Legends in the Big Ten Championship Game. Nebraska is drawing 7-4 odds ($100 to win $175) as a second pick. Michigan State is a third pick at 5-1 odds while Iowa ranks fourth at 8-1 odds. Northwestern and Minnesota are bringing up the rear as 15-1 and 50-1 picks, respectively.
2012 Big Ten Legends Division Picks
Michigan Wolverines (5-4): Those who follow college football expected Head Coach Brady Hoke to make an immediate impact at Michigan, but few expected such a quick and dramatic turnaround. Hoke inherited a program that had amassed just 15 wins in the three previous seasons and guided it an 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech. With most of last season’s biggest playmakers returning, including quarterback Denard Robinson, the Wolverines look like a serious threat to win the division.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-4): While Nebraska’s inaugural Big Ten season was a success (finished 9-4 overall and 5-3 in conference), the school’s rabid fan base was somewhat disillusioned by the third place Legends finish. The team suffered a shocking home loss to Northwestern and got embarrassed by both Wisconsin and Michigan. The Cornhuskers bring back more than enough to makes amends for those missteps (14 starters, 56 lettermen), and they appear to be the Wolverines biggest competition for the Legends throne.
Michigan State Spartans (5-1): The Spartans were phenomenal a season ago, fighting their way to an 11-3 record despite returning just 12 starters from the previous season. This season Head Coach Mark Dantonio welcomes 13 starters back, but he loses quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. However, given the school’s recent track record, do not be surprised if Michigan State hangs on to its division title.
Iowa Hawkeyes (8-1): Since finishing 11-2 in 2009, Iowa has been trending in the wrong direction, posting 8-5 and 7-6 records the last two seasons. Unfortunately for Hawkeyes fans, that downward slide may continue in 2012. Iowa returns just 11 starters from last year’s team, and it does not appear to be on equal footing with Michigan, Michigan State, or Nebraska.
Northwestern Wildcats (15-1): The Wildcats are one of those teams the opposition takes seriously as they can bite when overlooked (see last year’s Nebraska game), but seldom do the conference big boys sweat being over run by Northwestern. This year’s team looks much like those of the recent past; in other words, capable but not overwhelming.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (50-1): The Gophers may appear benign after back-to-back 3-9 finishes, but Jerry Kill, who is entering his second year at Minnesota is a good coach. Eventually that fact will be reflected in the team’s record. Kill’s troops beat the Hawkeyes and Illini last year and they gave Michigan State all it wanted in a 24-31 loss. Are they a threat to win the Legends? No, but Iowa and Northwestern better not sleep on the Gophers.
Odds to Win the 2012 Big Ten Legends Division:
Michigan Wolverines 5-4 ($100 to win $125) Nebraska Cornhuskers 7-4 ($100 to win $175) Michigan State Spartans 5-1 ($100 to win $500) Iowa Hawkeyes 8-1 ($100 to win $800) Northwestern Wildcats 15-1 ($100 to win $1500) Minnesota Golden Gophers 50-1 ($100 to win $5000)