Well the conference that is tagged as being the slowest in all of college sports received a boost of speed this offseason with the addition of Nebraska which defected from the Big 12. Nebraska is tabbed by many to win the conference especially with all the suspensions that the Ohio State University has to endure because of a tattoo for jerseys exchange which the NCAA ruled “illegal.” The scandal forced the great coach, Jim Tressell to retire from his post, and he should have took Joe Paterno with him, but that’s another post. Its shameful that the only way that Tressell could be beaten is by the NCAA showing him the door. Under Tressel’s watch the Ohio State University has either won or won a share of the Big 10 crown for SIX straight years! That man can eat for free in the state of Ohio. This year though the conference will also have a new look. Split into two divisions for the first time ever the Big 10 will host a Big 10 title game to guarantee an outright champion. Speaking of those two divisions, Leaders and Legends, the Big 10 was also the butt of many jokes as the two names are pretty bad. East and West would have been just fine. Leaders and Legends? Joke. This conference has been hammered in big bowl games, and big games period. The loss in the Rose Bowl to TCU was just another slap in the conference’s face. The only Leader and Legend and that conference is the great Jim Tressel, Joe Pa you should have been shown the door earlier this decade.
Leaders(Rolling my eyes)
1.Penn State, 9-3 – Penn State is in prime position to take the division. Unfortunately for Ohio State fans without Tressel and with a guy named Joe Bauserman starting at QB, the division belongs to Penn State. Joe Pa has his best team since 2008, which really isn’t that hard as that team was awful, but good enough to win a share of the Big 10 crown and then woodshedded by USC in the Rose Bowl. The team is still not settled on a starting QB. As Offensive Coordinator Galen Hall has to pick between garbage and trash, excuse me, Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin. Both QB’s completed under 60%, but should improve, the key word is “should.” All world Evan Royster has graduated school and torched the great Curt Warner’s rushing record which stood for 25 years! The new back is Silas Redd who is a talented shifty back with power. The running game should not miss a beat, especially with 3 starters coming back to the offensive line. The Defense is also pretty big as well as the front 7 is huge, but where is the speed? Last season the defense gave up tons of yards in the running game, 4.5 yards a pop! While the secondary allowed opposing QB’s to complete 60% of their passes. This has to be fixed quick if the Nittany Lions are to win the division. Fortunately the schedule really sets this team up for a run to the Big 10 title game, even with the two road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State at the end of the year.
2. Wisconsin, 9-3 – Welcome to the Big 10 Russell Wilson, its prime and ready to be taken! With the addition of Russell Wilson this team is ready to become a true factor in the Big 10 title race. Lat year Wisconsin finally won a share of the conference and went to the Rose Bowl, where they furthered embarrassed the conference losing to TCU. Well this is a new season and Russell Wilson will be teaming with stud runningbacks Montee Ball and James White to form a potent rushing attack that should rip apart this division. All of this should have Nick Toon smiling as he is primed for big senior year now that he will be hooking up with Wilson. The defense though is another story. JJ Watt has graduated and their are no sure fire studs in line to replace him. Wisconsin’s defense is not even that big for when conference play begins which will become a problem the second half of the season. Trips to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois are no cake walks as well. If the defense can come alive, and Russell digests the playbook quickly, another Big 10 title could be in the making. But those are big IF’S.
3.Ohio State, 8-4 – The loss of Tressel is just too much to over come. Even with the suspensions of Dan Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, and Soloman Thomas, for the first 5 games, the team could have still won the division. Tressel though is just too much to over come. QB Terrel Pryor is also gone and is now playing for the Oakland Raiders, and Joe Bauserman is taking his place. The good thing is that Bauserman is a senior and knows the playbook, the bad thing is that Bauserman was offered a scholarship to be a permanent backup quarterback and was never to start a game. If he can perform a handoff to HUGE runningback Rod Smith and Boom Herron then he should be fine. Rod Smith is posed to have a big year, the 6-3 220 battering ram will have a field day running behind Ohio State’s huge offensive line which features soon to be NFL starter Mike Brewster. Ohio State’s defense is also stout as if features former high school All-Americans at every position. MLB Etienne Sabino has super star written all over him. The south Florida product should run rampant behind his two DT’s Garrett Goebel and Big Johnathan Hankins(6-3 335lb big). The secondary will be breaking in 3 new starters, but everyone should be ready by November when Ohio State plays Michigan in the Big House. No matter what happens this season, all Ohio State fans want is to beat Michigan, again.
4.Illinois, 8-4 – It all begins and ends with QB Nathan Scheelhaase. The dual-threat QB can turn this whole division race upside down with a great season. He does possess the wheels and should be able to blow past defenders with his speed as he racked up 868 yards last year running the ball. He also threw 18 touchdowns last year, but must get his completion percentage above 60%(58% last season). He does have his number one wide receiver back in AJ Jenkins, but a #2 must emerge for the passing game to work. The running game will be fine as Jason Ford will churn out chunks of yardage. Star Martez Wilson is gone and is now playing in New Orleans, but the DT’s combine for 620 lbs of beef! Akeem Spence and Craig Wilson should clog the middle and allowing Ian Thomas to be the next great Illinois linebacker(Simeon Rice, Kevin Hardy, Martez Wilson). Terry Hawthorne and Tavon Wilson return to man the corner position, but have to do a lot better as they stayed on COOKED. In the end this team is coached by Ron Zook, another poor season and that will be it for him. Of course he could win the division as the only big road game is Penn St, and gets both Ohio State and Wisconsin at home. Will the division be “ZOOKED!”
5.Purdue, 5-7 – Do you remember when this team was good?! Man that was a long time ago! Well nothing has really changed, the team is still awful and its not going to stop being awful until all the heavy hitters in this division get hit with probation. Purdue has the right nickname though “Boilermakers” teams play them to get their stats up!
6. Indiana, 3-9 – HS phenom chose Indiana as his home for the next four years, I have no idea why?! His brother is on the team, but I guess this guy wanted to kiss the NFL goodbye as he will receive horrible coaching from one of the worst, “new coach Kevin Wilson come on down!!!!!”
Legends (hack hack)
1. Nebraska, 11-1 – Good bye Big 12 hello Big 10! Some may view this as a step up in competition, others may see it as a step down. What ever the case may be Nebraska is the fastest team in the conference! Taylor Martinez returns at quarterback where he will run right by the slow Big 10 defenses that he faces. But that’s not all, he has help with Rex Burkhead(951 yards) and super freshman Aaron Green to take some carries as well. Tight end Kyler Reed is a playmaker who averaged 18 yards a catch last season, and will be counted on to make the big grab as well this season. The problem with this team will come with replacing three starters on the offensive line. The defense though is stout! Defensive tackle Jared Crick is ready for first round money and will show why this season as he will gobble and throw to the side offensive lineman that stand in his way. First team Big 12 middle linebacker Lavonte David is also back and will continue to deliver blows to opposing ball carriers. This is a fast, big defense that features one of thee top coverman in the nation with Alfonzo Dennard. The Black Shirts are back, and will show their worth in this year’s Big 10 season. If they can get through the schedule. At Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan with home dates against Ohio St, Michigan State, and Northwestern is nothing to smile about.
2.Michigan State, 9-3 – Kirk Cousins is ready to light these secondaries up! Cousins is a 3rd round draft pick at worst! He also will have wideouts BJ Cunningham and Keshawn Martin to sling it too! Running back Edwin Baker rushed for over 1200 yards last season, and will continue to build on that, but only if the o-line can find some able replacements. The offensive line loses 4 starters from last year’s team, and the replacements do not look promising. The defense though is another story. Cyborg William Gholston is on campus and healthy. Under HC Dantonio’s teaching, its expected that he have a huge sophomore year. The schedule though is brutal. Trips to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwestern is pretty tough stretch no matter the team. If Dantonio can guide this team to the Big 10 title game, the Spartan faithful may have seen the last of their great coach as Buckeye nation may call him back home.
3.Northwestern, 8-4 – Pat Fitzgerald has been building a winner here quietly the past couple seasons. All of these future doctors and lawyers may finally enjoy a bowl victory as Coach Fitz has a winner. It all starts with the defense though as he field a team with a lot of size! Vince Browne may have to put his professional career on hold as he may be in the NFL for a couple of seasons. Browne registered 7 sacks last year and is out for even more. If his fellow dlineman come to play, Browne won’t ever see a double-team and will take advantage of the futile offensive tackles he faces. The rush defense must step up though after allowing teams 5 yards a pop last season. Knowing coach Fitz that was just an aberration as the defense is going plug any hole with the two big DT’s in Brian Arnfelt and Jack Dinardo. The schedule is manageable as well as Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State all come to Evanston.
4.Iowa, 7-5 – Captain Kirk always brings the best out of his boys. He continues to bring in mid-level talent and maximizes them to their full potential. Now can he get some studs!? It would be amazing to see what this coach could do with talents found in USC, Texas, or LSUs of the nation. But he coaches at Iowa. Iowa team has a lot of losses this season as a new QB and RB have to emerge. Not a problem as Captain Kirk also has stud wideout Marvin McNutt back to go along with his corn bread eating offensive line which only lost a starter. FS Micah Hyde will take care of the secondary, as well as Mike Daniels on the front line. On paper this team looks like it could only win 5 games. But this is a Captain Kirk Ferentz coached team, don’t bet against the captain.
5.Michigan, 6-6 – No this team is not back. On the way…..we shall see. Rich Rod did leave new coach Brady Hoke a star at QB in Denard Robinson who boasts a 4.2 forty. Now can he operate under center??? We shall see. The running backs were awful last year, and the same ones come back this year. The receivers, ehhh, they were ok. Roy Roundtree is good, but could be better, but enough about the offense, the problem is the defense! Who can they stop?! At times it looked like a junior varsity team out there! DT Mike Martin is a stud in the middle, can other players please step up? Just show clips of the Wisconsin game, or the Ohio State game, even UMASS averaged 4.4 yards a carry against this defense. Excuses…..any one???
6.Minnesota, 3-9 – This team fired their best coach ever in Glen Mason because he could not deliver a Big 10 title. Well no one has delivered this team a Big 10 title, but Mason brought the team to 7 bowl games in 8 years. More than any other coach before him. The audacity for this team to fire Glen Mason! Get ready Gopher fans, cause it will always be bad for ya. Gopher fans are the Chicago Cub fans of the baseball, never good.
Rercruiting: Ohio State
Another area where Tressel dominated was the recruiting front. DOMINATED is the key word as he continued to produce top 10 classes every season. This season was no different as he set up the next coach right with super star in the making Braxton Miller at QB. He didn’t stop their though as he snagged LB Curtis Grant from the Tidewater, VA and three top 20 defensive lineman. Future looks bright for the next coach, someone should write Tressel a thank you card.