New coaches bring element of surprise to Leaders

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Three new head coaches, a lot of fresh-faced players and two-time defending champion Wisconsin headline the Big Ten’s Leaders Division this fall.

The Badgers lost half of their starters from an 11-3 team that won the inaugural Big Ten championship. But they return the conference’s top offensive player in tailback Montee Ball, who led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns, and maybe its top defender in linebacker Chris Borland.

Beyond the Badgers, it’s difficult to figure who’ll be the top contenders. Perennial power Ohio State is coming off a woeful 6-7 season but has new coach Urban Meyer, Illinois has retooled with Tim Beckman now in charge and Leaders co-champion Penn State has replaced iconic Joe Paterno with former NFL offensive guru Bill O’Brien.