The Big Ten in 2011: Jim Tressel out at Ohio St, Michigan with a new coach, Wisconsin was a national title sleeper, Penn St. was Normal
The Big Ten in 2012: Urban Meyer at Ohio St, Michigan and Wisconsin are strong national title contenders, Penn St. well, Google them.
The Big Ten had one of it’s most exciting seasons in years, close games and dynamic, game changing players like Montee Ball, Denard Robinson and Rex Burkhead. The question is who is it this season and will this year even come close to what we saw a season ago?
1. Ohio St.-So. Ohio St. can’t win the Big 10. So the hell what? Doesn’t mean this team is complete crap and won’t compete and cause complete chaos in the Big 10 Title Race, especially in Ann Arbor. Everybody knows about Urban Meyer coming to Columbus but what most are excited to see is dynamic QB Braxton Miller. You’ve seen what Urban has done with Chris Leak, Tim Tebow and even Alex Smith. Ohio St. has something to prove and a coach that can stoke that fire better than any other in College Football.
2. Wisconsin-The reigning conference champs are at it again using the same philosophy. Use nations best QB available. Simplify the offense. Pound Montee Ball into the defense. Repeat. With the schedule and talent the Badgers have on both sides of the ball, you can make the argument that they are a legit sleeper for the National Title. They essentially have a two game season, At Nebraska and Ohio St. at Home separate them from an unbeaten season and a shot at a national title.
3. Illinois-Lets face it. The only teams that are worthy of being “Leaders” in this division are Ohio St. and Wisconsin. Everybody else, more like the blind leading the blind. Illinois started out 6-0 last season, then they went on a six game slide that saw their coach fired, and win the Bowl game, although it was against a terrible UCLA team. Nathan Scheelhasse is one of the more efficient QB’s in the Big Ten, Ron Zook might have been a bad coach but the man leaves a squad in Champaign that will be a threat to Wisconsin and Ohio St.
4. Penn St.-If you’ve been living under a rock since November 2011 and don’t know much about what’s going on with Penn St. Football, hit Google and get ready to cringe. Well, the on the field product is cringe worthy as well, you still have a QB Situation that needs to be worked out, it’s not like both Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden are good, more like which one won’t give you a heart attack. Bill O’ Brien replaces Joe Paterno, it’s no secret this might be his only season for a while so he’ll have to make the best of it.
5. Purdue-For the 2nd year in a row the Purdue Boilermakers will be fighting for a bowl bid. Only this time they will come up a bit short. All the important pieces are back on offense, Caleb TerBush the QB, Ralph Bolden the strong running back and the Junior OJ Ross. The issues now are on Defense. Can the 73rd ranked defense from a year ago hold their own against the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio St.?
6. Indiana-Indiana won’t be good, actually at this point I don’t think they’ll ever be good. They ranked 101st in scoring offense a season ago, the defense was 114th. Gunner Kiel was supposed to be wearing Crimson and Cream this season instead he’s in South Bend playing for Notre Dame. This season Kansas is on track to pass the torch to Indiana as the worse team in a BCS conference.
1. Nebraska-Mobile QB. A senior led defense that has it’s swagger at 10.5 and a schedule that brings all their toughest opponents at home to the toughest place in America. God help us, Nebraska is back. Taylor Martinez comes into his Jr. season, yeah it seems like he’s been there since the Dave Rimington Era. Rex Burkhead is in his last season and it seems like he’s been there since Bobby Newcombe was under center. What I’m trying to say these Huskers have been/seen a lot in their time in Lincoln. Now, it’s their time to get a Big 10 Title.
2. Michigan-Michigan was a surprise last season, Denard Robinson showed that he might not have an NFL ready arm but when he does use it, somehow he finds a way to make that key pass in a game (Ask Notre Dame). This season it’s totally different. Michigan won’t sneak up on anybody, they have two out or their first three could and most likely will throw a monkey wrench into their national championship hopes. Alabama in Dallas and then Notre Dame in South Bend. IF Michigan can get through that then you never know, the maize and blue might play their way in.
3. Michigan St.-Last year was supposed to be the year, they beat Wisconsin on a miracle play in East Lansing, and the Badgers on the mat with an eight count and then all the sudden, it was gone. The chance at their first Rose Bowl since ’88, gone. Kirk Cousins, gone. Now it’s a fight to maintain their respectability that’s not gone but this season could go a long way in where Sparty is headed. No longer are they the talk of Michigan and despite their four game winning streak over UM, they have have to go to Ann Arbor on October 20th. That day and Nov. 3rd will be the measuring stick for the Spartans in the Legends Division.
4. Northwestern-Wildcat Pat Fitzgerald has something special going on in Evanston, Ill. brewing, this Northwestern team might not jump off the page but they can go anywhere and beat you at any time. Just ask the Huskers last season, the Wildcats won by three but outplayed the huskers and had the Husker fans booing their own players. With another year under Kain Colter at QB, Northwestern is gearing up for a strong Rose Bowl run in 2013.
5. Iowa-This is a huge season for Iowa, it seems they’ve been coasting on the two Orange Bowl appearances from Kirk Ferentz too long, back to back Insight Bowls just won’t get it done. There is no way in hell that Iowa should have a loss heading into October, they face No. Illinois, Iowa St., No. Iowa, Central Michigan and Minnesota to start the season. One loss there and QB James Vanderberg and the Hawkeyes are in deep trouble.
6. Minnesota-In almost every conference there is a team that you want to see do well but they just don’t have the horses to compete this season. That team is Minnesota. Despite the talents of MarQueis Gray they are still lacking talent across the board and in the 2nd toughest conference in America. One player alone won’t be enough to bring a winner to the Twin Cities any time soon.