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Top 5 Big Ten Kicking Specialists for 2013

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Top 5 Big Ten Kicking Specialists for 2013

Jeff Budzien
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In the game of football, special teams need to be special, and no conference in the country has lived by that motto throughout the years better than the Big Ten.

Year after year, the conference is loaded with kickers and punters who are among the tops at their positions in the country. To go along with such talented kickers and punters, the Big Ten always seems to have the edge in special teams against competition from other conferences, with games coming down to a winning field goal.

Just in the past couple of seasons you have seen schools have their National Championship hopes eliminated by not being able to convert a field goal late in the games, but those teams are never from the Big Ten.

With kickers and punters being such a premium to Big Ten coaches, you see coaches from the conference offering full scholarships to kickers and punters, which not many other coaches around the country do.

The NFL is loaded with kickers who played their college ball in the Big Ten. Just right now there are guys like Robbie Gould, Mike Nugent, Brandon Fields, Zoltan Mesko, and Jay Feely.

With such a rich tradition of kickers the bar is always set high in the conference, and this season will feature many players who can live up to it. The conference returns some of its best kickers and punters from a season ago with many accolades under their belts, so 2013 should be another great special teams season for the Big Ten.

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5. Mike Meyer, Iowa Hawkeyes

Mike Meyer
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012, Meyer has been the kicker for the Hawkeyes each season he has been on campus. He has had some big kicks for the Hawkeyes in his career, and they have been able to rely on him at crucial times.

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4. Justin DuVernois, Illinois Fighting Illini

Justin DuVernois
Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

A two year starter for the Fighting Illini, DuVernois is one of the best young punters in the entire country. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten in punting, averaging 41.9 yards per punt on 73 punts in 2012. DuVernois was also an academic All-Big Ten selection last season.

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3. Brendan Gibbons, Michigan Wolverines

Brendan Gibbons
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbons was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012 for the Michigan Wolverines after going 16-18 on field goals and 45-45 on PATs on the year. He is most remembered for his game winning field goal against Virginia Tech in 2011 in the AllState Sugar Bowl.

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2. Mike Sadler, Michigan State Spartans

Mike Sadler
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Sadler was a first team All-Big Ten selection as a punter for the Michigan State Spartans in 2012. He led the Big Ten and was 21st in the nation in punting average, posting 43.3 yards per punt on the season. Sadler is on the Ray Guy award preseason watch list and was also a preseason third team All-American selection by Athlon Sports.

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1. Jeff Budzien, Northwestern Wildcats

Jeff Budzien
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Budzien was a first team All-Big Ten selection for the Northwestern Wildcats in 2012 as a junior. He finished 19-20 on field goal attempts for the season and was 6-7 on field goals from 40 yards or farther. Was a Lou Groza award finalist last season and was a second team Sports Illustrated Preseason All-American selection for 2013.