Thursday, August 26, 2010
Better Know a Conference: The Big 10
Burning Question: Is this really the last year of the great Big 10 traditional hate games? I'm sorry I just can't get over the Big 10 is being this stupid about moving OSU v. Michigan and putting them in separate divisions. Compounding my disbelief it's been confirmed Iowa/Wisconsin are being put into separate divisions (for those unaware Iowa v. Wisconsin has been played every year for 88 years and is THE rivalry for Iowa). What are they smoking in the Big 10 offices?
Biggest Non-Conference Games: Alabama v. PSU, tOSU v. Miami, Iowa@ Arizona, Michigan v. UConn, Anyone v. Notre Dame
1. Ohio State - The expectation is that with a fully armed and operational Terrel Pryor tOSU will win the Big 10 for a record tying 6th straight time. However it's more than Pryor at Buckeyeville this year, it's the best o-line, best d-line, best linebackers, and deepest RBs tOSU has had in awhile. It is a tough schedule and if the Buckeyes have an achilles heal it's the secondary. Nonetheless it'll a surprise (and disappointment) if the Scarlett and Grey don't win the last real Big 10 Title.
2. Wisconsin - If there is one team that can challenge the Buckeyes for the Big 10 title, I'm predicting it is the Badgers. Bucky Badger returns the leagues most efficient QB, a pounding running game, and 10 returning starters on offense. However in the biggest games, the Badgers offense pulled in duds and gaping holes at DT I think will ultimately hold back the Badgers from winning the title.
3. Iowa - I'm going on record (and out on a limb) and saying Iowa will disappoint. There's two ways to look at Iowa's comeback cardiac wins last year. Either Rick Stanzi is a cold blooded 4rth Quarter ace and Iowa is a turnover creating machine or.....they were really lucky last year. Statistics tell us ON AVERAGE turnovers tend to regress to the mean next year, losing experienced o-linemen is tough, and counting on continually winning close games is a fools' game. I think the law of averages catches up to Iowa.
3. Penn State - Penn State I think could struggle. Yes, they will have a great defense (like they always do). Yes 8th year starter Evan Royster can run. But all signs point to swirling uncertainty at QB. Opening week of college football is one week away and it's still a 3 way race between a once heralded recruit that isn't performing, a walk on that knows the offense, and a true freshman. None of those possibilities should give Penn State tons of confidence.
5. Michigan State - The pass has come to define Michigan State. Nobody can stop their passing attack led by Kirk Cousins and they can't stop the pass. Will this year be any different? I doubt it. I'm expecting crazy high scoring games for Sparty. That said, they avoid tOSU and have an easy non-conference so a bowl game is probable.
6. Michigan - This is make or break time for RichRod. Another horrific season to match the previous two and even the normally patient Michigan AD will have to throw the axe. My prediction is that Denard Robinson (He of No Shoelaces) will become the starting QB and he will power the Michigan offense to 30 points a game. However it's the Michigan D that has been and will continue to be problematic. The rush D was awful (second to last in Big 10) and should suffer without Brandon Graham. The pass D stunk ( last) and lost 4 potential starters between recruiting mishaps, early trips to the NFL, and freak injuries. They will be better than last year but I'm not sure if they hit 6 wins.
7. Purdue - Their starting RB has one of the most awesome names ever....Al-Terek McBurse. Is he Arab? Irish? Is McBurse just the name he uses when running around LBs? In any event no PSU, No Iowa, and a bounce back from lots of close losses. I think Purdue is Bowl bound and could be the Big 10s Big Surprise on Upside.
8. Northwestern - Little known fact Northwestern has been the 6th best Big 10 over the past 7 years. They're solidly entrenched in the Big 10 mid-tier. However losing QB Kafka will prevent me from making Metamorphosis jokes so I say they'll perform below average this year.