Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preseason Big Ten Power Poll Ballot

With the death of the BlogPoll, the CN staff decided to implement a staff "PowerPoll" of the Big Ten teams. In the interests of full disclosure, here's my preseason ballot.  Remember, this is a "Power Poll", which ranks the teams in terms of perceived strength  Because each team plays a different schedule, it doesn't necessarily mean that this is a predicted order of finish.  And because it's preseason, it's all just a guess.

1: Ohio State

With Braxton Miller back after an undefeated season, it's hard to vote anybody else on top at this point.

2: Nebraska

Most of the offense is back, which should be even better in 2013. And I'm cautiously optimistic about the defense; no, Bo Pelini didn't forget how to coach defense. He may have made some mistakes in recruiting early on; let's see if he's figured it out.

3: Michigan

The Weasels are the trendy pick, but I have enough questions about their running backs, receivers, and secondary this season. And that's even assuming that Jake Ryan returns at 100% in October...which I really doubt.

4: Northwestern

The Wildcats are a team you want to rank higher, but I can't get over how Nebraska dominated them last year - outside of the special teams debacle.  Look at that stat sheet again if you can't look past the final score.

5: Wisconsin

Despite a new Bert-free coaching staff, I don't see the Badgers dropping significantly.

6: Penn State

I don't know when the Sandusky-scandal sanctions will finally take hold, but Bill O'Brien is a heck of a coach.  Underestimate Penn State at your own risk.

7: Michigan State

That defense is amazingly good.  But that offense is amazingly putrid.  Last season, LeVeon Bell salvaged the offense, and he's off to the NFL.  If anybody thinks that Andrew Maxwell is going to be any better in 2013, just remember that the quarterback competition went from a two-man race to a three-man competition to a four-man "Can anybody throw a decent pass" debacle.  They say when you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one.  What does it mean when you have four?  Simple.  It's a mess.  I reserve the right to upgrade Sparty if they decide to burn Damion Terry's redshirt and play him, but with no quarterback, a converted linebacker at running back, and receivers who can't catch the ball, I just don't see how the Spartans can be seriously be considered a contender.

8: Minnesota

Jerry Kill has a reputation for putting together solid teams.  I almost could rank the Gophers ahead of Sparty.  I think they'll surprise in 2013.

9: Indiana

The offense should be pretty good and they may also pull of an upset or two.

10: Purdue

A few too many questions with a new coaching staff.

11: Iowa

Other than linebacker and the offensive line, I have a hard time finding much to be optimistic about in Iowa City.

12: Illinois

Will Tim Beckman even survive the season?

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