I think the big ten this year is really quite simple…
Ohio State has the leagues best defense and most exciting player. Yet they seem to be what they are year in and year out, and that is the favorite to win this league and the #2 ranked team in the country. They will likely win the league and go get pummelled by an SEC school. They are a team with few holes, but they won’t win the league. What!?! This has happened seven straight years! Yeah, and even worse, they may not go to a BCS game! Why? The Big Ten should be more predictable than ever this year. OSU has to travel to Wisconsin and Iowa. I don’t believe they will win either game. Should they split, we may have a serious logjam at the top. Normally, I’m not superstitious but they were on the cover of SI, so let the jinx begin.
Iowa: I have written in these pages before, this is the nations finest coaching staff. Norm Parker seems to always have an elite defense regardless of who is replaced. Kirk Ferentz is elite, their OL coach puts out elite units year in and year out, etc… They have a favorable schedule hosting the other “big two” and they are my pick to win the league.
Wisconsin: this offensive line is the leagues best, they will likely try to pound and pound and pound. They have a favorable schedule and should they beat OSU in Madison will likely finish at worst second. Their defense has questions, but what better way to deal with defensive questions than roll out an experienced talented OL with an average weight of 325 and a reigning big ten player of the year at RB who just happens to be 255 lbs himself…toss in an experienced senior QB and explosive wing players and you have an offense that will: a) eat clock b) score points. Inexperienced defense may not matter that much, except in Iowa City.
Penn State: traveling to both Iowa and Ohio State leaves the Nittany Lions in trouble right out of the gate. There are talented players on both sides of the ball and they figure to make it through the league with 2 losses.
Michigan State: talented players, a strong non conference tilt, and no OSU on the schedule make this team formidable. However, this coaching staff quite frankly is the opposite of Iowa’s, I have little confidence that they will get the job done.
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Iowa (7-1) will likely falter at OSU, their away schedule is amazing…
2. Wisconsin (7-1) that early showdown with Wisconsin could decide the league. The other trap game is at MSU, where they have had mixed success.
3. OSU: (6-2) they will dominate all games but two. They were beat up in Columbus by Wisconsin but won on three big plays, they figure to get beat up in Madison and lose.
4. PSU: (6-2) favorable schedule helps JoePa in his 93rd season.
5. MSU: (5-3) a talented team, who is in charge over there?
6. Northwestern: (4-4) schedule is tough, solid returning players and a fine coaching staff.
7. Minnesota: (3-5) Brewster is on the hot seat and they have a lot of holes.
8. Michigan: (3-5) RichRod has been exposed as a poor coach in a conference of high quality coaches. He will be fired at years end. Here is one of the many fire RRod sites.
9. Purdue: (2-6) Program in decline, not a whole lot coming back, poor homefield…blah.
10. Illinois: (2-6) They’ll beat Purdue and Indiana at home. Ron Zook is a joke, fired at years end.
11. Indiana: (0-8) wow.
Coach of the year: Kirk Ferentz. Dear Kirk, do the Big Ten a favor and go to the NFL.
Offensive Player of the Year: John Clay/Terrelle Pryor again…
Defensive Player of the Year: Adrian Clayborn Iowa, a lot of people will argue Brian Rolle…nah, Clayborn is a man amongst boys on the leagues best team.