- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the past four weeks, we have had Michigan State, Nebraska and Michigan all atop our Big Ten bowl projections. Just as we think we've found a favorite in the Legends Division, something happens to shake that up.
It's safe to say the Legends race is as wide open as any conference division race in the country. So today, we're going to let you vote on who you think will be going to the Big Ten championship game from that side of the league. We offer five choices:
Michigan: The Wolverines ascended to the top spot in our projections this week after their 44-13 win against Purdue last week. They looked mighty impressive in that road victory, but of course they were just 2-2 before that one. The team's defense and offensive line look to be rounding into form, and Denard Robinson can produce miracles at any time. Of course, he can also help the other team at any time with a turnover. Michigan still must get past Michigan State for the first time in five years and go to Nebraska.
Michigan State: Our preseason favorite has struggled more than expected, but it's also true that the Spartans' only losses are to a pair of top 10 teams in Notre Dame and Ohio State. So there's still time to get this thing turned around, although last week's first half at Indiana was hardly encouraging. The good news: the Spartans' senior class has owned Michigan, and Nebraska must come to East Lansing.
Nebraska: Before last week's 63-38 shellacking at Ohio State, the Huskers were starting to emerge as the league favorite. But familiar frustrations on the road surfaced, and now there are more questions about the defense and Taylor Martinez. Nebraska still owns an explosive offense that will give it a chance in most games, and it gets Michigan at home. The Michigan State road game will be tough, but the Huskers were the only team to beat the Spartans in conference regular-season play a year ago.
Iowa: A longshot to be sure, the Hawkeyes do already have one Legends victory (against Minnesota). Their defense is playing well, and Mark Weisman has given the offense an identity. A win at Michigan State would give Iowa some credibility in this race.
Northwestern: The Wildcats earned sleeper status with their 5-0 start, but then were put to sleep in the fourth quarter at Penn State last week. At least that was not a division game. Northwestern gets Nebraska at home and beat the Huskers last season. Back-to-back road trips to Michigan and Michigan State appear daunting. And they'd better not look past this week's game at Minnesota.
(Our polls only allow for five answers, which is why Minnesota is not on the list. I also excluded the Gophers because they have already lost a division game and because it would take a mighty leap for them to go from 3-9 to division champs. If I am wrong, and Minnesota is playing in Indianapolis in December, feel free to tar and feather me outside Lucas Oil Stadium).
Vote now on your choice for the Legends champion.
20hBrian Bennett and Austin Ward