Introducing your Big Ten All-Star teams ...
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Like many of you, I'll be watching the All-Star Game tonight in St. Louis, and I thought it'd be fun to do a Big Ten football version on today's blog.
Before getting to the selections, let's get into the always tricky process of dividing the league into two teams. As we all know, the Big Ten doesn't do us any favors with an odd number of teams, and the theories on how to split the league are seemingly endless. For this exercise, let's go with North and South designations. The North squad will be made up of six Big Ten teams, while the South draws from only five squads but can access more players from contending teams.
The geography isn't perfect by a long shot -- yes, I know Ann Arbor is south of East Lansing -- but here's the breakdown:
North: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Penn State
South: Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana
Now for the lineups.
QB: Daryll Clark (Penn State), backup is Adam Weber (Minnesota)
RB: Evan Royster (Penn State), John Clay (Wisconsin)
WR: Eric Decker (Minnesota), Keith Smith (Purdue)
TE: Garrett Graham (Wisconsin)
C: Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)
OL: Stephen Schilling (Michigan), Dennis Landolt (Penn State), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Al Netter (Northwestern)
DE: Brandon Graham (Michigan), Corey Wootton (Northwestern)
DT: Jared Odrick (Penn State), Mike Neal (Purdue)
LB: Navorro Bowman (Penn State), Sean Lee (Penn State), Obi Ezeh (Michigan)
CB: Traye Simmons (Minnesota), Sherrick McManis (Northwestern)
S: Brad Phillips (Northwestern), Torri Williams (Purdue)
K: Phillip Welch (Wisconsin)
P: Zoltan Mesko (Michigan)
Returns: Troy Stoudermire (Minnesota)
QB:Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State), backup is Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)
RB: Brandon Saine (Ohio State), Jewel Hampton (Iowa)
WR: Arrelious Benn (Illinois), Mark Dell (Michigan State)
TE: Michael Hoomanawanui (Illinois)
C: Mike Brewster (Ohio State)
OL: Bryan Bulaga (Iowa), Justin Boren (Ohio State), Kyle Calloway (Iowa), Jeff Allen (Illinois)
DE: Jammie Kirlew (Indiana), Thad Gibson (Ohio State)
DT: Corey Liuget (Illinois), Doug Worthington (Ohio State)
LB: Greg Jones (Michigan State), Pat Angerer (Iowa), Matt Mayberry (Indiana)
CB: Amari Spievey (Iowa), Chris L. Rucker (Michigan State)
S: Kurt Coleman (Ohio State), Anderson Russell (Ohio State)
K: Brett Swenson (Michigan State)
P: Ryan Donahue (Iowa)
Returns: Ray Small (Ohio State)
My thoughts: I like the matchup, and not just because I created it. The North squad has a stronger offensive backfield but more questions along the offensive line. The South team lacks a proven running back but boasts two of the league's most talented skill players in Pryor and Benn. Plus, the South team has a stronger offensive line led by Iowa tackles Bulaga and Calloway. Both defenses boast strong linebackers. The North team gets the edge up front with Wootton, Graham and Odrick, while the South squad boasts a very strong secondary. The special teams are pretty even, although Stoudermire's breakaway ability and Mesko's consistency give the North a slight edge.
Prediction: North wins, 24-21