Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Monday, April 30, 2012
The B1G in 'College Football Live' Top 25

By Adam Rittenberg

Most of you know my feelings about preseason polls, but they do provide a snapshot of how analysts around the country view specific teams. ESPN's "College Football Live" has released its preseason Top 25 for the 2012 season. Both Bennett and myself voted in this poll, and our ballots are below.

Let's look at which Big Ten teams made the overall rankings:

No. 10: Michigan
No. 12: Michigan State
No. 16: Wisconsin
No. 17: Nebraska
No. 20: Ohio State

Not too many surprises here. Michigan likely will be the preseason Big Ten favorite, and the Wolverines likely will be viewed nationally as the Big Ten's best team entering 2012. The reasons: a three-year starter in quarterback Denard Robinson, an outstanding running back in Fitzgerald Toussaint, a strong coaching staff and momentum after an 11-2 season. You can make a strong case for Michigan State to be ahead of Michigan, which I believe to be true, but people look at the departures on the offensive side and have pause about the Spartans despite their talent on defense.

Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio State are all teams that could rise or fall in the rankings. The Badgers and Huskers boast standout running backs (Montee Ball and Rex Burkhead) and defenses that could boast greater depth. Ohio State undoubtedly will be a better team under coach Urban Meyer. But Wisconsin has quarterback questions, Nebraska loses star power on defense and Ohio State is introducing a dramatically different offense that likely will bring some growing pains.

Here's are some of the notable selections on both Bennett's ballot and my own. We agree on most of the teams, except for the Buckeyes.

Bennett's ballot

No. 1: LSU
No. 2: USC
No. 3: Alabama
No. 9: Michigan State
No. 10: Michigan
No. 16: Nebraska
No. 19: Wisconsin
No. 25: Ohio State

Rittenberg's ballot

No. 1: USC
No. 2: LSU
No. 3: Alabama
No. 9: Michigan State
No. 10: Michigan
No. 13: Ohio State
No. 16: Nebraska
No. 18: Wisconsin

"College Football Live" will count down the preseason top 20 beginning today and have analysis of each team's strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to tune in each day at 3:30 p.m. ET.