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Posted on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Divisional alignment has created wide-open Big Ten football race

By Kyle Meinke

There were a lot unknowns coming into this football season regarding how the Big Ten's divisional split would affect conference play. But one thing is clear: It makes for a wide-open league race.

Splitting the conference into the Legends and Leaders divisions has caused more teams to be in contention for a divisional crown and a berth in the league championship game.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said on this week's coaches teleconference that he expects the parity to continue.

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Michigan coach Brady Hoke at the pre-season Big Ten media day.

"I think we’re all adjusting to that, with the championship game," Hoke said. "That always is going to be something that’s out there, and there’s a lot to play for."

Michigan (8-2, 4-2) and Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) currently are in second place in the Legends Division, one game behind Michigan State (8-2, 5-1).

For Michigan to advance to the Big Ten title game, it needs to sweep its final two games and have Michigan State lose its final two. The Spartans won the teams' head-to-head matchup and would take the first tiebreaker if they finished with the same league record.

For Nebraska to advance, it needs to sweep its final two games and have Michigan State lose once (because the Cornuskers won the head-to-head matchup). Other scenarios come in to play if Nebraska splits its final two games.

"It’s a quality conference, there’s a lot of depth, about what I expected coming in," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said of his first Big Ten race. "It’s going to be a challenge."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.


Larry Weisenthal

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 7:21 a.m.

c'mon Ted. M's offensive numbers, from scoring on down, are similar this year, compared to last year, and better in some respects. The improvement in the defense has been stunning, and this is partially owing to the change in offensive style (see below). The fact that Borges has been able to get such good offensive production out of players recruited for a different type of offense suggests that he's an offensive genius, compared to his predecessor. Look at what happened to Steve Threet under Rodriquez. He never had a decent chance in the Rodriquez system. He then went to Arizona State and threw for more than 2,500 yards last year, before ending his career post-season, because of concussions (smart move to retire, by a true student athlete with a better than 3.5 GPA). Schembechler is revered today, but, in his time, he was often derided for being allegedly old fashioned on offense. But his "old fashioned" offense helped his great defenses, which always at least kept Michigan in the game until the last play. A huge advantage of the Borges system is that it helps the defense, by giving it a whole lot more in the way of rest. Football is a team game, and the offense needs to help the defense, if THE TEAM is to succeed. That was the secret to Bo's success -- the team, the Team, the TEAM. Offensive coaching is not about having your quarterback set records; it's not about having your offense set records; it's about the TEAM winning games.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

Mich never passes out of the read option this year. This is the reason it hasn't been as successful. Borges has done everything wrong for Robinson. He doesn't spread out the defense for him to run and he doesn't freeze the defense with the threat of running on any pass plays. The fact that Borges doesn't get this is very laughable. He is a joke. The defense this year disguises the fact that the offense this year is suffering from the coaching of a below average mind.