Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 6 Ohio State. New coach Urban Meyer should bring a quick turnaround to Columbus, especially with sophomore Braxton Miller due for a breakout season. The Buckeyes are ineligible to play for the Big Ten title in 2012.
Will Ohio State Have the Best Record in the Big Ten?
Will Denard Robinson make a trip to New York at the end of the season?
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 7 Michigan. Quarterback Denard Robinson is back, but the Wolverines must replace center David Molk. The defense must replace tackle Mike Martin, but should be solid in the back seven.
Will Denard Robinson Be a Heisman Finalist in 2012?
Fitzgerald Toussaint will be one of the Big Ten's top running backs this year.
The Michigan Wolverines check in at No. 7 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
The Trotwood, Ohio, wideout should have a bounce-back campaign in 2012. In 2010 as a sophomore, Roundtree was the team’s top receiver, catching 72 passes for nearly 1,000 yards en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors. Last year, the milk carton special totaled 19 receptions for 355 yards, despite starting all 13 games and landing on the preseason Biletnikoff Watch list. The senior should be poised to become Robinson's top target once again in 2012 and should return to his 2010 form.
The 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback will be one of the elder statesmen of the Michigan defense this fall. Floyd has played in 31 career games and has started 22 at cornerback. The Greenville, S.C., native posted 48 total tackles, intercepted two passes and defensed eight others en route to All-Big Ten honorable mention. Undoubtedly, Floyd will be counted on to mentor younger cover backs Blake Countess, Courtney Avery, Terrence Talbott and Raymon Taylor.
In one short season on the field, the Owings Mills, Md., defensive back has supplanted himself securely in the starting line-up. Countess worked his way into the starting line-up for the final six games of the season and was rewarded with multiple Big Ten All-Freshman teams. He posted 44 total tackles in 12 total games played and may be the most physically gifted coverman on the roster. Look for Countess to only continue to grow and improve in his sophomore season.
As a redshirt freshman, the Youngstown, Ohio, running back touched the football nine (eight attempts, one receptions) the entire season. With a crowded, jumbled mix of prospects in the Michigan backfield, Toussaint rose to the surface as the feature back Brady Hoke so desperately wanted. Hoke committed to Toussaint midway through last season and Toussaint delivered in a big way. He got 125 of his 187 carries in the final six games of the season and he posted four 100-yard games, including a career-high 192 yards against Illinois. He scored six of his 10 touchdowns over that span as well. The All-Big Ten honorable mention back finished seventh in the Big Ten in rushing and now enters his third year with the UM workload squarely on his shoulders.
This fourth-year letterman will have his work cut out for him in 2012. With a reworked defensive line in front of him, Demens becomes the focal point of the Michigan front seven. His 38 straight games played, including 20 starts at middle linebacker, gives this unit a veteran presence it desperately needs. His 94 tackles a year ago topped the Wolverines and earned the Oak Park, Mich., product honorable mention from both the coaches and media. His versatility might even allow for a shift to weakside backer, should stud Joe Bolden be ready to complete in the middle.
The big defender from Scottsdale, Ariz., may not ever live up to his extremely lofty recruiting status, but his contributions to this program cannot be understated. One of the unsung heroes of this unit during its worst years (2008-2010), Roh has been a unselfish player for his entire career. He will be playing his fourth position — strongside defensive end — in four years for Michigan, but that hasn’t changed his consistency. He has started 38 consecutive games for the Maize and Blue, including 20 at outside linebacker and 18 at defensive end. After his best season, which included 32 tackles, four sacks and eight tackles for a loss, Roh was rewarded with an All-Big Ten honorable mention nod. Some coaching and positional stability could go a long way for the 6-foot-5, 269-pound renaissance man.
The veteran leader of the defense, Kovacs enters his final season in Ann Arbor with 33 career starts at safety. His 75 total tackles a year ago were second on the team, his four sacks were second on the team and his 8.0 tackles for a loss ranked him third. His ability to play all over the field was invaluable to the complete turn around the Wolverines experienced on defense a year ago. The Curtice, Ohio, native was rewarded with his second straight Big Ten honorable mention acknowledgment. Kovacs enters his final season with 267 career stops and 21.0 career tackles for a loss.
The two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection has a chance to earn many more accolades in his final stint as the starting right guard. The Columbus, Ohio, native has played in 33 career games, including 29 consecutive starts at the same position. The 6-foot-4, 299-pounder is the lone senior, and most experienced player, on an offensive line that must be productive if Michigan wants to return to a BCS bowl in 2012.
After appearing in 11 games and starting nine as a redshirt freshman in 2010, the massive Scottsdale, Ariz., blocker entered his second letter year as the starting left tackle. In charge of protecting the blindside of the most important player on the team, Denard Robinson, Lewan claimed second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches. The 6-foot-8, 302-pounder started all 13 games, and, with another great year in Ann Arbor, could find himself selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
For a player many consider brittle and quick to injure, it may surprise some that Shoelace has never missed a game in his three-year Michigan career. The explosive dynamo has started 27 of those games and has seen his team go from five to seven to 11 wins over his career. And from a statistical standpoint, few players in the history of the sport can match his production. He is the only player in NCAA history to throw for at least 2,500 yards and run for at least 1,500 in a single season. His 1,702 yards were an NCAA rushing record by a quarterback and he trails only Antwaan Randle El (3,895) for the career Big Ten rushing mark by a signal caller. In fact, he needs 1,252 yards to pass Pat White to become the NCAA’s most prolific rushing quarterback in history. While he can still play more efficient football — as his 30 career interceptions and 58.3% completion rate will indicate — few players in the nation are as exciting and productive as Robinson.
Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 best coaches in college football for 2012.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
College football realignment dominated the headlines last summer and if you thought it was over, think again. More movement in college football could be coming this summer, especially with the mixed messages coming out of Tallahassee with Florida State. Are the Seminoles content to stay in the ACC or are they interested in the Big 12? If Florida State does make the jump to the Big 12, the domino effect will be felt across all of college football.
Taylor Martinez needs a big year if Nebraska wants to win the Big Ten.
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 14 Nebraska. The Cornhuskers return 14 starters, including running back Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez. The defense returns most of its core, but must replace linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Is Nebraska's Taylor Martinez One of the Big Ten's Top Quarterbacks?
The Nebraska Cornhuskers check in at No. 14 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
Jared Abbrederis is one of the Big Ten's top wide receivers for 2012.
The Wisconsin Badgers check in at No. 17 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.