Big Ten Preview – and yes there are 14 teams

File:Big Ten Conference logo (2012).svg

 

B1G

The Big 10 is probably going to be run by Ohio State for the next few seasons. If this happens it will mean that (1) Urban Meyer is one of the greatest coaches we have the pleasure of seeing in action, and (2) it will also mean that if the rest of the Big 10 tries to catch up to Meyer, it might make Big 10 football worth watching. Big 10 ball over the last few years has been just short of dreadful. This also marks the last season of 12 teams in the conference as Maryland and Rutgers join next year.

Leaders

Ohio State – the Buckeyes went undefeated last season with a couple of close calls, probably nothing changes here as the Buckeyes just simply have more talent than anyone else in the conference.

Wisconsin – the Badgers have a new head coach in Gary Andersen. Andersen comes over from Utah State. If the Badgers beat the Buckeyes in Columbus the last weekend in September the division is their’s to lose.

Penn State – the Nittany Lions had quite a bit to overcome last season and there is hope for the future, if the Lions can find a QB. They can score points – avg 30 per game last year – just need reliability. Not enough talent to contend just yet.

Indiana – the Hoosiers have a chance to go to a bowl game this year. They have 8 home games and do not have to travel until the middle of October. They have been close to a lot of upsets but never have pulled one off yet. A Bowl game would be a huge accomplishment for this team.

Purdue – the Boilermakers last few seasons of mediocrity have ushered in change once again. Enter new coach Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers do not have a lot of returning talent, but with a couple of solid recruiting classes Purdue could return to prominence.

Illinois – the Fighting Illini were awful last season, going 0-8 in the Big Ten. This team had won back to back bowl games, but just fell apart. Coach Tim Beckman is fortunate to have another season at the helm, but a repeat of last season will see him unemployed.

Legends

Michigan – the Wolverines have not won a Big Ten title in 8 years. The schedule is very favorable for them this season, as most of their hardest games are at home. Road dates with Sparty and Northwestern loom large on the way to the title game.

Nebraska – the Cornhuskers have made themselves at home in the Big Ten, but have yet to capture the title. Bo Pelini has the ‘huskers back on the right track. They do not play OSU or Wisconsin this season, leaving a huge showdown at Michigan in November.

Northwestern – the Wildcats won a bowl game last season, and most of the pieces from that team return this year. Anything can happen, but back to back dates with OSU and Wisconsin in October and Nebraska and Michigan in early November could dash title hopes.

Michigan State – the Spartans played a lot of close games last season – 9 games were decided by 4 or less points – bounces either way could have been 9 wins or 9 losses or 5-4 like actually happened. Sparty just does not have the talent right now to win every single week.

Minnesota – the Golden Gophers are not ready quite yet to run with the Big Ten elite, but Coach Jerry Kill has the team improving every season. This could be a breakout year for the Gophers.

Iowa – the Hawkeyes are in a down cycle and have been for a few years. This may be the last chance Kirk Ferentz gets as the head coach if the team is not in contention.

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