Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

College Football Preview: Big Ten

Venric Mark, Northwestern
All Big Ten Team
QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State
RB Venric Mark, Northwestern
RB James White, Wisconsin
WR Allen Robinson, Penn State
WR Kenny Bell, Nebraska
OL Spencer Long, Nebraska
OL Taylor Lewan, Michigan
OL Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
OL Andrew Norwell, Ohio State
OL Ed Olson, Minnesota
DE Tyler Scott, Northewestern
DT Ras'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State
CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
S Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State
S Greg Heban, Indiana

Conference Realignment for Big Ten: Ever since the Big Ten added Nebraska in 2011 to form a 12 team league the conference had been pretty quiet. Then, this off season they managed to snatch Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the American Athletic/Big East, both who will join in 2014. With the additions of Maryland and Rutgers the Big Ten will move from their Legends/Leaders alignment to a West/East alignment with the two new schools in the East.


1. Michigan Wolverines National Rank: 16   
Even after last year's disappointing 8-5 mark and the loss of exciting Denard Robinson, Michigan is still ready to win the Big Ten. Devin Gardner is ready to take over at quarterback and if healthy, Fitz Toussaint can be a fantastic back. The loss of linebacker Jake Ryan is a big one though.

2. Nebraska Cornhuskers National Rank: 21
The return of senior Taylor Martinez means a lot for a 'Huskers team that was pretty strong through much of 2012. Junior Ameer Abdullah also is back to replace Rex Burkhead at back giving Nebraska two explosive options in the backfield. Though, the defense was weak especially in last year's loss to Wisconsin, a startling fact for a team that has a defense-first coach in Bo Pelini.

3. Michigan State Spartans National Rank: Unranked:
Defense should once more lead the Spartans to victories after last year's tough 7-6 record. Senior linebacker Max Bullough is a tackling machine in the middle and the Spartans' secondary is as good as anyone's in the nation with cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis. If Andrew Maxwell improves Michigan State could sneak into the championship game.

4. Northwestern Wildcats National Rank: Unranked
Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern team in 2012 was very strong, going 10-3 and this year's team could be even better. Senior quarterback Kain Colter returns after a solid first full season as starter along with junior Trevor Siemian. Colter comes in for a scrambling QB while Siemian gives this offense a better passer. Explosive back Venric Mark can change games with the touch of the ball.

5. Minnesota Gophers National Rank: Unranked 
The Gophers rode an easy non-conference slate to their first bowl since 2009 last season and their starting quarterback at the end of the year, Phillip Nelson, returns for his sophomore year. Workhorse back Donnell Kirkwood also returns to keep the pressure off of Nelson. Though the Gophers defense should once more be a weakness and they don't have many proven targets without A.J. Barker.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes National Rank: Unranked
The Hawkeyes return one of the Big Ten's best backs in junior Mark Weisman, who ran for 815 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first season as a running back after spending time at fullback. Other than Weisman there isn't a lot to like about this team; quarterback James Vandenburg is gone and this defense is just average.


1. Ohio State Buckeyes National Rank: 3 
Who knows, the Buckeyes might have been the best team in college football a year ago and they return a lot from that team. Junior Braxton Miller might be considered the favorite for the Heisman after an impressive sophomore season. While Miller puts up a ton of points this defense should be great with the returns of Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby.

2. Wisconsin Badgers National Rank: 24
New coach Gary Andersen still has a chance to lead the Badgers to their 4th straight Rose Bowl, especially if they can find a quarterback. Senior Curt Phillips and Joel Stave saw significant time last year but neither have really earned the job. Montee Ball is gone but the combo of James White and Melvin Gordon should keep this ground game top-notch.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions National Rank: Unranked
The Nittany Lions didn't really feel the result of the NCAA sanctions as much as people thought they would last year, as they went 8-4 including a 6-2 mark inside the Big Ten. Though leader Matt McGloin graduated and linebacker Michael Mauti is as well meaning Penn State may have some growing pains. Though the return of Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton in the backfield and receiver Allen Robinson should keep this offense moving.

4. Indiana Hoosiers National Rank: Unranked
The Hoosiers team in 2012 didn't look at all like the one in 2011 that went 1-11. They won 4 games even without their impact quarterback Tre Roberson and found themselves pretty high in the Leaders Division. Roberson is healthy but if he struggles expect opportunities for backup Cameron Coffman who played well in his absence and this roster is full of playmakers. Back Stephen Houston can make plays along with receiver Kofi Hughes. If this defense plays well a bowl is a possibility.

5. Purdue Boilermakers National Rank: Unranked
Purdue did make a bowl last season but it was still a pretty big disappointing year in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers went 6-7 and that bowl game ended up as a 58-14 loss to Oklahoma State. Danny Hope is gone as coach and former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell hopes to make it three straight bowls. Senior Rob Henry is a talented quarterback and Akeem Hunt can make plays at running back but other than those two there isn't much here.

6. Illinois Fighting Illini National Rank: Unranked
Former Toledo coach Tim Beckham got a rude awakening in his first year in Champaign as they struggled the whole year crawling to a 2-10 mark. Senior Nathan Scheelhasse is still here and gives them something to work with but he has had a rollercoaster of a career for Illinois. The defense also has a talent in outside linebacker Jonathan Brown who had 9.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Though an even tougher Big Ten and little depth all around an improvement may not be there in 2013.

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.