A Legendary Big Ten free-for-all? Maybe

Legends Division is anyone's guess ... for now, anyhow

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March 28, 2014 | 9:00 pm

Chaos can be delightful as long as no one gets hurt.

It was disappointing when the possibility of a five-way tie for the American League baseball wild-card spots ceased to exist. How would that have been resolved? Would the World Series have ended by Thanksgiving? Oh, the wonderful possibilities.

But something even better is out there, something that would give Big Ten football far more national attention than a team in the national-championship game.

What if there were a six-way tie for the Legends Division title at 4-4?

No, the next line won’t be ‘Don’t laugh, it’s could happen.’ Go ahead and laugh. Sure, a 6-way deadlock is possible. But so is someone parachuting onto your roof today at precisely 12:34 p.m.

However, if it ever seemed like a six-way tie for a Big Ten football division title were within the realm of possibility, the morning of 9.28.13 might be the time. The division has no juggernaut or anything resembling one. It also has no foot wipe or anything resembling one.

When this was typed, Iowa was a 1-point favorite over the Gophers today. In other words, a coin-flip. Which makes it a fitting conference-opener for both squads.

What Legends team can you single out as a top contender or a total con? Michigan has looked a bit on the soft side the last two weeks in squeaker wins over Akron and Connecticut. Nebraska’s defense is leakier than a canoe made of Swiss cheese. They were the two preseason Legends favorites.

Michigan State’s defense is as stout as anyone’s, anywhere, but its offense was held under 300 yards by — hang onto something, Iowa fans — Western Michigan.

Northwestern ran the table in its four nonconference games and could be as formidable as anyone in the division, but plays at Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska in a four-week period. And that stretch starts the week after the Wildcats host Ohio State.

Then there are the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers, picked fifth and sixth in the Legends by just about everyone who makes such guesses. Along with Michigan State, they are probably the most-physical teams in the division. Physical is good.

So this could be one of those goofy years in which 5-3 gets you a piece of the Legends’ pie. Then if you fall on the right side of the tiebreaker, you go to the Big Ten’s championship game in Indianapolis to try to snap Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak.

Ahh, things will already start to look different Saturday night after the Hawkeyes and Gophers have settled their fight for that bronzed swine. Mr. Even Keel himself, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, spoke truth when it was suggested to him that the Legends looks like a free-for-all right now.

“Things are going to look different in November,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got a lot of games to play.”

I guess that means five fan-bases won’t be sore in late November about the conference’s tiebreaker rules. Pity.

 

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