Monday, August 8, 2011

Preseason Outlook: Big Ten

The Big Ten has some major changes in store for the upcoming season. Longtime Big 12 powerhouse Nebraska heads to the Big Ten for the upcoming season. The Big Ten will now separate into two divisions (Leaders and Legends) and it will all culminate with the first ever Big Ten championship game. Check out who the preseason favorites are in the Midwest.

Leaders Division

1. Wisconsin:  The Badgers return as the co Big Ten Champs and represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl vs TCU. They picked up the biggest Free Agency like move of the summer when former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson decided to come to Madison and play for the Badgers in the upcoming season. Wilson will be helped by running backs James White (1,052 yards) and Montee Ball, 777 yards and 14 touchdowns... in the last 5 games. Its very hard to replace 1st team All Americans's (OT Gabe Carimi and OG John Moffitt) as well as 2nd team AA's (DE J.J. Watt and TE Lance Kendricks) but the Badgers should manage.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball

2. Penn St: Joe Pa's Nittnay Lions return a lot of players from last years team, just not many stars. The quarterback situation between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden has yet to be decided and they lose star running back Evan Royster. Receiver Derek Moye will look to improve on his 800 yard season no matter who is under center and the offensive line should be very good with 5th year seniors at the tackles. The Nittnay Lions first big test will be vs the Crimson Tide week 2.

3. Ohio St: The Buckeyes were rattled to the core with off season problems but even with all the suspensions and losses they will still be in contention for another Big Ten title. Once Dan "Boom" Heron, DeVier Posey, and Mike Adams come back into the lineup after their five games suspensions we should see the good old Ohio St. More on the Buckeyes in 2011 here: Ohio St Post Tressel

4. Illinois: After being predicted to finish last in the Big Ten last season the Fighting Illini surprised many with a 7-6 record and a bowl win over Baylor. They lose power running back Mikel LeShoure but dual threat QB Nathan Scheelhasse is back and with improved throwing mechanics. The Illini secondary will be very strong, maybe best in the Big Ten, but the front seven will be very questionable come September.

5. Indiana: The Hoosiers bring in former Oklahoma offensive coordinator to take over as head coach in Bloomington. The Hoosiers will have to rely on their big men up front for a successful upcoming season. They return four starters on their line and return five of their front seven on defense. QB Ben Chappell graduated and they are still one year away from five star recruit Gunner Kiel coming in to led the Hoosiers so the quarterback situation is up for grabs.

2nd team All American Jared Crick had 9.5
sacks last season for the black shirts
6. Purdue: The Boilermakers miss Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter under center and it looks like another disappointing season in Lafayette. They return 16 starters and one of the best kickers in the nation but it could be hard for the offense to get the ball past the fifty. QB Ron Henry is still a one dimensional quarterback, running, and no running back has yet to prove themselves. One positive for the team is the potential for rising sophomore corner Ricardo Allen.

Legends Division

1A. Michigan St: The Spartans shared the Big Ten title but got embarrassed by SEC powerhouse Alabama in their bowl game. Mark Dantonio looks to lead the Spartans back into the Top 10 and he has a very good shot with veteran players on the roster. Quarterback Kirk Cousins will enter his third season as the starter, RB's Edwin Baker and Le'Von Bell return with Tackle Dan France leading the way. The defense loses All American Middle Linebacker Greg Jones but should still be very good with one of the conferences best corners in Johnny Adams and DT Jerel Worthy.

Reigning Big Ten offensive player of
the year Denard Robinson
1B. Nebraska: The Huskers jump from the  the Big 12 to the Big Ten to collect the major benefits of the Big Ten Network. Speedster quarterback Taylor Martinez will be the the key player on the offensive side of the ball and will complement arguably the best defense in the Big Ten. Jared Crick could be the best defensive tackle in the nation while LB Lavonte David set a school record last season with 152 tackles.The winner of the October 29th battle between the Huskers and the Spartans will likely go on to the conference Championship game.

3. Michigan: Michigan starts the Brady Hoke Era in Ann Arbor and he comes in with 18 returning starters. Speedster and reigning offensive player of the year in the Big Ten, Denard "shoelace" Robinson, will be at command of the offense once again. Roy Roundtree will be his top target, 925 yards last season, and RB Vincent Smith will join him in the backfield. If the Wolverines want to improve on their 7-6 season then they will need to completely change a defense that ranked last in practically every category last season. The future looks bright for Michigan but this looks to be just an adjustment year for Brady Hoke and Co.

4. Iowa: Long time starter Ricky Stazi heads to the NFL but the new starting QB is in good hands. RB Marcus Coker dominated for the Hawkeyes in their bowl game, 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, and leading receiving target Marvin McNutt both return. They will struggle mightily upfront on defense with only two starters returning to the front seven and the loss of all american DE Adrian Clayborn. Iowa doesnt have the talent that they've had in years past but no one wants to play in Iowa City come November.

Northwestern's Dan Persa
5. Northwestern: The Wildcats season will rely very heavily on one of the nations best dual threat quarterbacks, Dan Persa. Persa tore his Achilles at the end of last season and is said to be fully recovered and ready to go come September 3rd. Persa's offense is filled with experienced fifth year seniors, WR Jeremy Ebert, TE Drake Dunsmore, and some great lineman up front. DE Vince Browne will be the only elite player on a defense that struggled last season but looks to improve in 2011.

6. Minnesota: Jerry Kill takes over in his first full season as head coach for the Golden Gophers and will return with all of his key skill players returning. The struggle for the upcoming season will be replacing the offensive and defensive lines. Kill has a lot of work a head of him if he wants to get Minnesota back to where they were when Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney in the backfield back in 2003-2006.

Championship Game: Wisconsin over Michigan St

Preseason Awards

Player of the Year: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

Defensive Player of the Year: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska

Coach of the Year: Joe Paterno, Penn St

Freshman of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio St

More Previews:


  1. I have to disagree. I think Penn State will beat out Nebraska in the championship game. Penn state has enormous amounts of talent, and the best secondary in the Big 10 and a talented linebacking core will be enough to shut down opposition.

    PSU: 24 NEBRASKA: 10

  2. Minnesota's coach is Jerry Kill not Jim Kill.