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Big Ten Football: The Way Too Early 2012 Leaders Division Predictions

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Big Ten Football: The Way Too Early 2012 Leaders Division Predictions
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I'm back again with another installment of the "Way too Early Predictions" for the 2012 Big Ten football season.  (Legends division here).

Last time we met, we tried to answer a few simple questions:  Will Brady Hoke's second year match his first?  Will Jerry Kill see a significant second-year turnaround in Minneapolis?  Can Iowa find another running back to rely on?  Will Michigan State's defense continue to perform at such ridiculously high levels?  Where does Pat Fitzgerald get all these crazy efficient spread offense athletes from anyway?

This time we will look at the Leaders division where the questions are just as interesting.

Will Urban Meyer live up to the hype?  Can yet another coach succeed with the leftover recruits of Ron Zook?  (Follow up question: Will this writer miss the opportunity to use pictures of Ron Zook water-skiing in columns?  You bet he will.) 

Will Wisconsin remember what it's like to break in a new quarterback after hitting the waiver wire last year?  If Indiana doesn't play a snap of football, will anyone notice if the basketball team keeps winning? (Assuming the basketball team rights the ship before a complete collapse.)  Does Purdue even exist?  And finally: Penn State?*  

*(Yes, "Penn State?" qualifies as a question in and of itself when the football team is forced to replace its head coach of nearly half a century with a mediocre NFL offensive coordinator that rode Brady/Belichick's coattails and has the fanbase breaking out in hives, all while the biggest sexual assault scandal in college athletic history swirls around the school.)

It is going to be an interesting ride this season, so let's start sorting through it all.

Note: All returning starter numbers come from Phil Steele's numbers. If you have a problem or think your team was unfairly represented in the numbers, take it up with the guy who spends more time thinking about college football in one off day than you do in a good week.

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