Big Ten media days will take place Thursday and Friday at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. Aside from the hysteria surrounding Penn State, keep an eye out for these top storylines regarding the Big Ten:
- Who will emerge from the talent-rich Legends Division?
Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska are expected to be competitive this year, but one can't help but think the winner of the Oct. 20 game between the Spartans and Wolverines in Ann Arbor will ultimately represent their division in Indianapolis. MSU has won four consecutive games against its rival.
- Will Wisconsin represent the Big Ten in Pasadena for the third year in a row?
The Badgers return their two-headed running attack in Heisman finalist Montee Ball and junior James White. Is it reasonable to think that Ball could top his 33-touchdown, 1,954-yard season? How quickly Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien acclimates to coach Bielema's run-heavy offense may determine their BCS chances.
- Will Ohio State be motivated without postseason eligibility?
Coach Urban Meyer acknowledged to Lindy's Sports magazine motivation could be an issue with the Buckeyes facing their first bowl-less season since 1999. “There's a lot to play for,” offensive tackle Jack Mewhort insisted to the publication. “When people say there's not, it's just ridiculous.” The Buckeyes will find all the inspiration they need should Michigan enter Ohio Stadium on Nov. 24 in contention to play for the national championship.
- Which team could shock the Big Ten and win its division?
Numerous outlets are predicting the Boilermakers (7-6 last year) will be a surprise under third-year coach Danny Hope. Senior DT Kawann Short, who led his team with 17 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks last season, will anchor a defense filled with upperclassmen. Could Nebraska, led by senior workhorse Rex Burkhead, leapfrog the Michigan schools for a chance to play in the Big Ten championship game? Fans in Lincoln are getting ansty as the Huskers haven't played in a Rose Bowl since 2002 and with 16 starters returning, this may be their year.
- Is LB the Big Ten's strongest position this season?
From Illinois' Jonathan Brown who racked up 108 tackles and 19.5 tackles for losses to Michigan State's Max Bullough, who had 89 tackles as a sophomore, the Big Ten is stacked with linebackers. Wisconsin boasts two LBs -- Chris Borland and Mike Taylor -- who combined for 293 tackles last season. Finally, Penn State's senior LB Gerald Hodges will be needed as much for his veteran presence as his tackling ability in what could be a very tumultuous season in Happy Valley.
For more Big Ten coverage of media day, follow Dave Carey and Mike Singer @CBSSportsBigTen