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Big Ten

The Ohio State UniversityFootballLouisiana State UniversityRon DayneUSC

THE FAVORITE Ohio State's credibility might have taken a hit with its second consecutive blowout loss to an SEC team in the national-title game, but this is still one of the elite programs. Jim Tressel's team returns 19 starters, a bevy of pro prospects and a chip on its shoulder for redemption.

THE HOPEFULS Speaking of chips on the shoulder, Penn State and Iowa both made bigger headlines for players off-field troubles than they did for returning a lot of talent. Both look for much improvement. Wisconsin just keeps winning. It will be interesting to see Michigan break out Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

GAMES TO WATCH • Ohio State at USC, Sept. 13

• Ohio State at Wisconsin, Oct. 4

• Penn State at Ohio State, Oct. 25

• Penn State at Iowa, Nov. 8

• Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 22.

players TO WATCH Offense | Beanie Wells, RB, OSU

Defense | James Laurinaitis, LB, OSU

PREDICTIONS 1. Ohio State7. Michigan State2. Penn State8. Purdue3. Michigan9. Northwestern4. Iowa10. Minnesota5. Wisconsin11. Indiana6. Illinois RUNNING BACK Ron Dayne won the 1999 Heisman Trophy and owns the major college career rushing record with 7,125 yards. But the conference's best running back ever has to be Ohio State's Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman winner. He rushed for a then-record 5,589 yards from 1972-1975.

RUNNING FORWARD Ohio State's Beanie Wells might be the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 NFL draft. At 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, Wells has the size, and he certainly has the speed to outrun defenders. He had a 52-yard TD run in the title-game loss to LSU.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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