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HOW THEY'LL FINISH
PLAYERS TO WATCH Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
Tony Brinkhaus, CMINNESOTA
August 19, 2007
The 6' 3",295-pound senior, who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors as a tacklein 2005, switched positions last fall. He will anchor the line as it makes thetransition to the spread under new coach Tim Brewster.
Jordan Grimes, GPURDUE
Playing in asystem that has relied mostly on finesse blocking, the 6' 3", 325-poundmauler is a throwback. A two-year starter, Grimes is the leader of a line thatshould be one of the best and most powerful in the Big Ten.
J Leman, MLBILLINOIS
Once a hiddengem, the 6' 2", 237-pound senior averaged 12.7 tackles per game last yearto earn All-Big Ten honors. He underwent ankle surgery last February, but he'sexpected to be ready for the season opener.
Kellen Lewis, QBINDIANA
As a redshirtfreshman, Lewis led the Hoosiers in rushing (441 yards, five TDs) and passing(2,221 yards, 14 TDs). He'll be throwing to a deep and talented receiving corpsthat includes James Hardy (51 catches, 10 TDs).
Bryan Mattison,DE IOWA
Fellow seniorKenny Iwebema, at right end, gets most of the attention on the Hawkeyes' front,but the 6' 3", 272-pound Mattison emerged as a playmaker last year with ateam-high 61‚ÅÑ2 sacks and four forced fumbles.
TOP OFFENSIVEPLAYER Mike Hart, RB, Michigan The Heisman contender rushed for a career-high1,562 yards as a junior and has fumbled only three times in 750 carries.
TOP DEFENSIVEPLAYER Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin The 6' 1", 193-pound junior has acombination of size and speed that will make him a first-round NFL draftpick.
TRUE FRESHMAN TOWATCH Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois Fast and physical at 6' 2" and 215pounds, this flyer from Washington, D.C., enrolled in January and made a splashin spring practice.
COACH ON THE RISERon Zook, Illinois The influx of talent since Zook took over in late 2004 hasbeen nothing short of amazing. Plus he has a year or two before Illini fansstart to get impatient.
COACH ON THE HOTSEAT Joe Tiller, Purdue Nine bowls in 10 seasons has fans expecting better thanlast year's 8-6 record, which makes Tiller a victim of his own success.
SLEEPER Iowa TheHawkeyes return eight starters on defense and miss Michigan and Ohio State onthe schedule.
Northwesternwideout ANDREW BREWER is one of the most intriguing offensive prospects in theconference. A backup quarterback at the start of last season, he was moved toreceiver and made his only catch (for 48 yards) in a 21-7 victory over Iowa inearly November. The 6' 3", 210-pound sophomore won a starting job in thespring. . . . Strong-armed Michigan State quarterback BRIAN HOYER wasimpressive last year in relief of injured Drew Stanton, throwing for a combined621 yards in losses to Minnesota and Penn State. With Stanton gone to the NFL,Hoyer takes over, and he'll have a wealth of options at his disposal, includingtailback JAVON RINGER and tight end KELLEN DAVIS. . . . Illinois led the BigTen in rushing a year ago, and tailback RASHARD MENDENHALL was a big reasonwhy. The 5' 11", 224-pound junior averaged 8.2 yards on 78 carries andscored five touchdowns. With quarterback JUICE WILLIAMS, who ran for 576 yardsas a freshman, the Fighting Illini could have one of the best backfields in theBig Ten.