Indiana the surprise; Spartans the disappointment

League writers believe Indiana can build off 4-8 in 2012

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In the Big Ten writers preseason poll, the questions "most surprising" and "most disappointing" were asked.

The Iowa Hawkeyes received four votes in one of these categories. You know which one.

On the sunny side, 13 of 26 voters believe Indiana and head coach Kevin Wilson are headed the right direction, voting the Hoosiers as the "most surprising" team in the upcoming 2013 season. Northwestern was next with six votes. Michigan State and Purdue had two each.

Indiana finished 4-8 last season, but had a one-week window where the Hoosiers could've played their way into Legends Division contention. Wilson is in his third season and hopes to have the Hoosiers in a bowl game for the second time in 20 years. Indiana's last bowl game was the 2007 Insight Bowl.

The "most disappointing" vote was spread around. Eight different teams received votes in that category, all but Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. The question was asked as part of the preseason poll organized by The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio).

Michigan State received the most "disappointing" votes with six. But it was close. Michigan had five votes, Northwestern and Iowa four each, Nebraska three and Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin were also listed.

Michigan State is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season that saw the Spartans lose five games by four points or fewer. Some are expecting the Spartans to flip it back the other way and contend for the Legends Division this year. But others are avoiding that assumption.

One thing that plays heavily in Michigan State's favor is schedule. The Spartans' Leaders Division opponents finished 5-19 last year in Big Ten play. Michigan's Leaders Division opponents were 16-8 in conference last year.

The vote

1. Michigan State 6

2. Michigan 5

3. Northwestern 4

3. Iowa 4

5. Nebraska 3

6. Penn State 2

7. Minnesota 1

7. Wisconsin 1


1. Indiana 13

2. Northwestern 6

3. Michigan State 2

4. Purdue 2

5. Iowa 1

6. Wisconsin 1

7. Minnesota 1

My picks:

B1G surprise team -- Michigan State. Schedule plays well for MSU. I think the defense has a chance to be better than last season. QB play can't be any worse. Competition should help there. Dantonio will make a 300-carry back out of either Riley Bullough or Gerald Holmes.

B1G disappointment team -- Michigan. To be fair, sights are set on Indianapolis and the Stagg Trophy. Devin Gardner was a marvel against average teams, not so much against OSU. If DE Frank Clark takes off, he could be the player who changes the face of the UM D and the Legends race.

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