Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 Big Ten Predictions

Over at CornNation, the team dropped our predictions for Nebraska and college football in general, but I thought I'd go into the Big Ten a little more in depth, now that I've finished my 2014 opponent previews.  And yeah, it's got a homer pick in it.

I'm not locked into these picks, and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to guarantee this is how it'll turn out. Because I also know that somebody will probably call me out if I'm wrong.

East Division

1. Michigan State

With the best defense in the east division, there's no reason to deviate from the reigning conference champs.

2. Ohio State

Don't sleep on Urbz...but my pick would have still been Sparty on top even if Braxton Miller were healthy this season.

3. Michigan

The narrative on Brady Hoke swung 180 degrees way too fast. I think Michigan could be better on offense this year with a more competent offensive coordinator, and that should put the in the upper half of the east.  That might not be enough to satisfy Weasel fans.

4. Maryland

Not quite sure what to think about Maryland's transition, so I'm sliding them in here.

5.  Penn State

I think they start really feeling the depth issues from the Sandusky sanctions this season.  Bill O'Brien and now James Franklin have done an amazing job working around the limitations, but can't deny that depth is going to be a concern.

6. Indiana

We know the Hoosiers have a pretty good offense, but the defense has been mostly non-existant.

7.  Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights were horrible throwing the ball and defending the pass in the "AAC" (aka the former "Big East") last season. To put it kindly, Rutgers is in B1G trouble.

West Divsion

1. Nebraska

Yep, I'm making the call. Part of it is faith in the Huskers. Part of it is the realization that as I reviewed the other contenders in the Big Ten's west division, the other contenders tend to have even more questions.  I think the arrival of Alex Lewis makes the offensive line better, even if officially there is only one returning starter.  The defensive line is ready to start making a name for themselves in the Big Ten.  The questions are:  can the freshmen hold onto the ball as sophomores?  And can somebody please block for a punt return?

2. Wisconsin

This is a team that could either race for the four team playoff...or have their season over before most people start decorating for Christmas. Too many questions at receiver and in the defensive front seven for me to list them on top of this list, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if they are a top ten team by the time Nebraska returns to Madison. So I'm picking them 2nd behind the team I'm simply more comfortable with.

3. Minnesota

They aren't the most talented team in the Big Ten. They're probably the best coached team, though. And I like what their sophomores might be capable of doing in the passing game.  Jerry Kill has been a success at each level as he's moved up, and I have no reason to doubt that he's doing the same with the Gophers. Is this a stretch? Possibly. But I think they're going to surprise somebody like they did Nebraska last season. Just hope it's not the Huskers.

4. Iowa

Bill Connelly's preview attributed Iowa's successful 2013 to extraordinary health on offense and defense. Probably can't count on that happening again in 2014 (AIRBHG, anybody?), and more importantly, there are questions in the back seven on defense.

5. Northwestern

It's now Trevor Siemian's show, for better or worse. But without their best runners (Venric Mark and Kain Colter), best passer (again, Colter, believe it or not), and now best receiver (Christian Jones), I think Northwestern still has too many questions to address.

6. Illinois

Tim Beckman looks like he'll swirl the drain again this season.  Some youngsters should give the Illini a chance to feel optimistic, but I think they're still overmatched.

7. Purdue

When does basketball season start?


jeff725 said...

Dirk Chatelain strikes again.

The ball hasn't even been kicked to start the new season and, already, we have to deal with a Dirk Chatelain brain-cramp.


Get rid of “Sirius?” So….is Dirk serious in his opinion or is he just jerking with Husker fans?

If it’s the former, then, by his logic, “There Is No Place Like Nebraska” and “Hail Varsity” will have to go, too (as well as Virginia Tech using “Enter Sandman”).

If it’s the latter, then Dirk has destroyed what little credibility he has with Husker fans. He’s nothing more than a hack. But…who does Dirk Chatelain write for? :)

Any thoughts?

James Leroy Wilson said...

I'll assume the Huskers will lose four games. I told a friend it would probably be Miami, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the bowl game. I suspect Wisconsin will take the division. Hope I'm wrong.

Husker Mike said...

Not the Wisconsin that played LSU last night...