USA Today 2012 Preseason Poll: The Big Ten Hits and Misses in the Coaches' Poll
Today's a minor holiday in college football, as the first USA Today coaches' poll is out. Fifty-nine coaches, all members of the American Football Coaches Association, take part in the poll and—well, you know how polls work.
The full Top 25 is here. If you're going to skim for Big Ten teams, we did that already. Michigan leads the pack at No. 8, and Wisconsin's not far behind at No. 12. There are your division favorites in other coaches' eyes, folks.
Michigan State is next in line at No. 13, and Nebraska is No. 16. Clearly, the Legends Division is the cream of the crop in the Big Ten this year.
And then...that's it. No other team so much as receives a single vote. Florida International got five votes. Northern Illinois got two. Even Texas Tech got a vote, although that must have been a clerical error, because come on.
For the record, Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for voting, since the USA Today poll factors into the BCS and those two schools are ineligible for the postseason. In other words, nobody's seriously saying that Central Florida (five votes) is better than Ohio State. So pitchforks down, irascible Buckeye folks.
Who deserves to be the highest-ranked Big Ten team?
That said, it's a shame—a miss, if you will—Wisconsin's down at No. 12, because between the cupcake non-conference schedule and the lack of Michigan on the Badgers' schedule, there really aren't going to be many opportunities for a move up on the poll.
Just like last year, Wisconsin can't afford missteps through the course of the regular season if it wants to maintain its place in the poll. Tough news for a team that'll be a lot of fun to watch, especially on offense, but it's Wisconsin's fault for not putting together a serious non-con slate.
Michigan State and Nebraska are fairly rated. We're not as apprehensive about the Spartans offense as most folks. Andrew Maxwell is a veritable veteran at QB, and the line might be the best in the conference. The Spartans might shoot up the list with a few high-profile wins, but we're not at that point yet.
Nebraska is where it should have been a year ago and where it ought to be this year. There's talent there, but Bo Pelini's guys need to prove they're better than a perennial four-loss team.
As for the rest of the conference, there aren't a whole lot of "misses" here. There are a few teams that have a decent shot at winning records and bowl bids, but that tier of Big Ten teams—Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue—seem more like the 6-6 or 7-5 type than in that eight- or nine-win area.
Will one of those four teams make a charge for the Top 25 at some point in the season? Sure. But you can't really wonder where their votes are now.
What do you think? Is your team where it ought to be? Where would Ohio State be if it were eligible? Comment away.
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