The Big Ten has now become the Big Twelve by adding Nebraska. The problem is that there is already a conference named the Big Twelve (that ironically has 10 teams). This is a conference that is one of the big, classic conferences, but they have struggled when they have had to play other conferences. It is also a conference rocked by scandal with Ohio State losing their coach and their quarterback in a bizarre episode. It is doubtful they will be able to keep up with the SEC or the PAC 12, even with the addition of a solid Nebraska program.
One would have to think they will be able to make a run at winning the Big 10. They lost the Big 12 championship to Oklahoma last season in a somewhat disappointing season. Taylor Martinez, if healthy, will have a big season and the offense should be able to run for tons of yards. The defense was really good last year and one has to figure it will be dominating again.
Final Prediction: They start the season with UT Chattanooga. UT Chattanooga!! That will be a tough one I am sure. Fresno State and Washington will not be automatic wins, but they will be the favorites. Wisconsin and Ohio State will be the key games in back to back weeks at home. If they can avoid the
turnovers and the mistakes made last year, its very likely that they could win 10 games and I have them winning the conference.
The Badgers had a really special year last year, ending with an exciting Rose Bowl game with TCU (TCU end up winning the game). They have been 49-16 since Bret Bielema took over as head coach. However, they lost several players that were key to last years' season, including Clay their big running back and a couple really good offensive linemen. By some bizarre loophole, Wisconsin got Russell Wilson from NC State to play quarterback and he was very solid for NC State last year. If he can fit in the system, it will be very helpful for Wisconsin's offense.
Final Prediction: They have a soft non-conference schedule to start the season with Oregon State (a game you would think they should be able to win) as the toughest team. Conference play starts with a tough one in Nebraska, but they also get Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota. A bowl game will come easily and they will compete for the conference title.
This was an exciting team in the first half of the year, but really deflated following a classic win against Iowa where their starting quarterback was injured in the game winning play. They limped along on the rest of the year, showing just how important Dan Persa was to that football team. Him being healthy will be key to this team as well one would think.
Final Prediction: Eastern Illinois and Army are a nice couple of early games to have, and Rice is tucked away in a November 12th game. However they start off with a rather tough Boston College team. This team hasn't won a bowl game since 1949, and this could be the team to win one.
Iowa is going to be a completely different team from the ones of the past two years. 6 players they lost were drafted, meaning that this will be a rebuilding year. However, they have been a top recruiter in recent years, and may be able to replace that talent just fine. They have a very good offensive line and that is how you build an offense.
Final Prediction: They start with 4 very very winnable games, with the toughest being Pitt (who after a crazy off-season, doesn't look to be all that good). With Indiana and Minnesota on their schedule, a bowl game will be very easy to come by. The conference is rather weak, so don't count Iowa out.
The Vest is gone, Pryor is gone, and they have an interim coach. This all spells rebuilding. However, in the rather weak Big Ten, they still stand a chance to win the conference. The talent doesn't just go away. However, some of their key players are missing the first 5 games because of the suspension.
Final Prediction: Akron and Toledo will be two easy wins for OSU to start the season. Miami is the toughest non-conference player on the schedule. Michigan State, Nebraska, and Penn State will all be rather tough, with Illinois sort of a wild card. I think overall, it will be a pretty tough season for the Buckeyes but 7 or 8 wins could still happen.
Joe Paterno is remarkably still kicking, but the 7-6 season of last year was somewhat disappointing. Nothing really got decided in last years quarterback situation, but they have really nice running backs, and a decent offensive line. There are questions on the defensive side, and its hard to tell if Linebacker U is back, or gone forever.
Final Prediction: They should coast to an easy 4 wins in their first 5 games, however game 2 is against Alabama, and they will certainly be the underdogs in that game. They finish the season with Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, which could easily turn into 3 losses. Look for another mediocre season and a few calls for Paterno to step down.
They had a great season last year but were crushed by Alabama in their bowl game, leaving a sour taste in their mouth. Mark Dantonio has done a really nice job making this program relevant. They are having to make changes on their offensive line, and that is probably not good news and they lost two
stud linebackers to graduation. They have a solid quarterback, but it is doubtful he can carry them.
Final Prediction: Youngstown State, and Florida Atlantic are a nice way to start. Notre Dame will be a fun game to see as we will see just how good these two teams are. Their schedule is easy enough to coast into a bowl game.
The thing about a bad coaching hire is that after 3 years of failed rebuilding, you have to endure some more rebuilding. First year head coach Brady Hoke will now have to start to build his program. He has a solid quarterback in Denard Robinson who was a Heisman favorite a few weeks into last season. The defense was horrendous under Rich-Rod, and that has to improve for Michigan to even return to mediocrity.
Final Prediction: A loss in week two to Notre Dame will be offset by wins over Eastern and Western Michigan, San Diego State (Hoke's old team) will present an interesting challenge,and one wonders if Michigan can handle any of the gauntlet to end the year with Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase has proven to be a fun player to watch, but not necessarily a good passer, yet. Coach Ron Zook is 28-45 and needs an awesome year to save his job. The team lost its two best defensive players, but reports are that they may still be in good shape on that side of the ball. The team puts such an emphasis on running the ball that the loss of their star running back may paradoxically not be a bad thing. They lost Rashard Mendenhall the year before and were still okay. They were a team that had major special team problems last year, and that just can't happen again.
Final Prediction: They start the season with Arkansas State and South Dakota State, which better be two easy wins. Usually, having Michigan and Ohio State on your schedule would be negative things, not this year. That schedule is easy enough that they better win 9, but I would be surprised if they win 6. Its over for Ron Zook at Illinois.
Maybe this team is starting to turn this thing around. Hope is entering his third year, but they haven't been to a bowl game since 07. They lost the last 6 games of last season and looked just terrible in that streak.
Final Prediction: They start the season with Middle Tennesee, Rice, and SE Missouri State. They should win these three games (if they don't, they have some major problems). That leaves only 3 more wins to find to get to a bowl game. They should be able to find wins against Minnesota and Indiana. That means they have to figure out how to win one of the following games, Notre Dame, At Penn State, Illinois, at Michigan, At Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa. None of these games are really easy, but a decent team should be able to turn this schedule into 6 wins. The big question is whether Purdue is
the decent kind of team.
New coach but same problems. They just aren't as talented as the other teams in the Big 10. They are an easy win for opponents and it will take a long time to rebuild this thing.
Final Prediction: Starting the season against USC will be an automatic loss and the way this team has played in recent seasons doesn't make games against New Mexico State or North Dakota State automatic wins. I don't see them winning any conference games.
This was a hard team to watch last year, and with that comes a new coach in Kevin Wilson. New coaches always make it hard to speculate how good the team will be. Wilson was good in Oklahoma as the Offensive Coordinator. However, he is going to have a lot less talent on that side of the ball in Indiana. One of the big questions will be whether he can do more with less. This team was destroyed in almost every single Big 10 game last year, and we would be foolish to think that this can turn around easily.
Final Prediction: The schedule has a few softies with North Texas, Ball State, and South Carolina State. The conference will be too much for them though. They will be lucky to take more than 1 of those games. Give 'em time.
Fun pointless tidbit: The Hoosiers do have a football team.