The Big Ten had four teams in the Top 10 at the end of last season and were one of the top two conferences in the nation overall. After years of being mocked and ridiculed, the Big Ten reclaimed its self-respect last year and is looking for even more this year. So let’s look at how the two divisions will play out.
Big Ten East
1) Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes are once again led by Urban Meyer and if Meyer is coaching the Buckeyes they are a threat to win a National title. The Buckeyes once again are loaded and the only question is at QB were J.T. Barrett struggled at the end of last season. The Buckeyes are looking to help Barrett progress as a QB by adding former Indiana Head Coach Kevin Wilson. Wilson is an outstanding offensive coach and I think that Barrett will show improvement this season.
Regular Season record 11-1 (8-1 in conference)
2) Penn State Nittany Lions
Coach James Franklin’s team should make a run at a College Football Playoff bid behind quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. Penn State’s quest to win the conference or earn a playoff spot is likely to depend on the development of the offensive line and the new faces at defensive end. The offensive line is a troubling question for a lot of teams and the Nittany Lions are one of those teams. If the offensive line develops they could be a national title contender.
Regular Season record 10-2 (Conf. 7-2)
3) Michigan Wolverines
Does Coach Jim Harbaugh have the Wolverines program at the point where they just must reload instead of rebuild? The Wolverines only return 6 starters from last season’s team, which is hard for almost any program not named Alabama or Ohio State to overcome. The Wolverines will not I believe be able to contend for a playoff spot this year, but I do expect an 8- or 9-win season.
Regular Season record 9-3 (Conf. 7-2)
4) Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers made it to a Bowl game last year and I think they could do it again this year. They return there QB and the makings of a potentially strong defense.
Regular Season record 7-5 (conf. 5-4)
5) Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans had a rare bad season last year and will be looking to rebound. I would be shocked if this team was better than .500.
Regular Season record 6-6 (conf. 4-5)
6) Maryland Terrapins
The Terps somehow got to a bowl game last year with 6 wins, will they have six teams to play that are bad enough to them this year?
Regular Season record 3-9 (conf. 1-8)
7) Rutgers Scarlet Knights
I don’t see any hope for Rutgers to make it out of the east’s cellar.
Regular Season record 2-10 (conf. 0-9)
Big Ten West
1) Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers have an easier schedule this year and they also have a better team than last years. They will run away with the West.
Regular Season record 11-1 (conf. 9-0)
2) Northwestern Wildcats
It’s been a long time since the Wildcats were the laughingstocks of division one college football. If any team in the west can challenge the Badgers it will be the Wildcats.
Regular Season record 9-3(6-3 conf.)
3) Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Cornhuskers come into this season as a mystery, they have a lot of holes left to fill from last year’s graduating players. I do think that the Huskers are on the way back to national prominence if they just give Mike Riley time.
Regular Season Record 7-5 (conf. 4-5)
4) Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes will have a strong front seven, but the secondary is highly suspect. On offense, a new QB will be on the scene. The Hawkeyes have a lot of positives, but too many negatives to pick them at better than 6 or 7 wins.
Regular Season record 6-6 (Conf. 4-5)
5) Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Gophers hired P.J. Fleck as their Head coach and that means they got the right guy. Give him two years and the Gophers will be challenging for Big Ten titles.
Regular Season record 5-7(conf. 3-6)
6) Purdue Boilermakers
The Big Ten west is very weak compared to the east and these bottom two teams are in for a long year.
Regular Season record 3-9(conf. 2-7)
7) Illinois Fighting Illini
If you think Purdue is in for a long year, wait until you see Illinois’s year.
Regular Season record 2-10(conf. 1-8)
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