NCAAF: Big Ten Preview

August 11, 2010

Tiger Woods is struggling, Johnny Cueto is kicking, and Darrelle Revis is still holding out. With all that is going on in the sport-o-sphere, I’m kind of sad that I’m not covering any of it. However, I’m excited to be close enough to the start of college football to be giving my predictions, and I’m especially excited that today I get to cover the Big 10 conference. Just keep holding out Revis, so that I have something to talk about once my preview is completed.


The Big 10 may finally be ready to challenge the SEC for the title of “Best Conference in College Football”. After a promising bowl season last year, in which the Big 10 won four of their seven bowl games and finished with four teams in the Top 15 in the final rankings (the first conference to do that since…the Big Ten, in 1999), 2010 could finally be the year that they gain respect from the media once again. Come early January, all eyes may be on a certain Big Ten team to see whether or not they can compete in yet another national title game, and silence the critics that have screamed “overrated” ever since this certain team’s meltdown in the 2007 title game.

Team(s) With the Best Shot at a National Championship Bid
Ohio State

It may not seem like it’s been this long, but it’s been five years since anyone other than Ohio State has won the Big 10 title. The Buckeyes hope to continue that streak for at least another year, with arguably the best team to be assembled in Columbus since the 2006-2007 season. It is widely believed that Terrelle Pryor is finally ready to lead the Buckeyes, after he showed significant improvement last year and played extremely well in leading the Buckeyes to victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl. If Pryor really is ready, the Buckeyes have the pieces around him on offense and the usual lockdown defense to make it back to Glendale.


Obviously, the Hawkeyes will have to focus on one game at a time, making sure they don’t stub their toe against a Northwestern like last season. However, the fact that their season will likely come down to one game, on November 20th versus Ohio State, is common knowledge to just about everyone following college football. In order for that game to have such meaning, they will have to be more efficient on offense than they were last season. Coming from behind makes for great storylines, but it isn’t the best way to preserve an undefeated season.

Watch Out! (Team That Could Surprise)
Michigan State

The reason that the Spartans could do well this year is that they return a lot of key starters, and their schedule is pretty favorable. Michigan State gets to play their first five games at home (the game against Florida Atlantic is in Detroit, which is essentially a home game), and they don’t have to deal with Ohio State this year. Kirk Cousins is a good, productive quarterback, so if the Spartans can find a running game (which coach Mark Dantonio is known for having), then they could surprise some people.

Out-Of-Conference Game To Watch
Penn State vs. Alabama (September 11th)

I really think that Penn State could be trouble for Alabama. With Penn State having to replace so many starters on both offense and defense, this could be a team that comes out of nowhere. Of course, Penn State may end up being totally befuddled by Alabama, making this game one not to watch. However, I’m going to say that the Nittany Lions will still be pushing Alabama by the fourth quarter in this one.

In-Conference Game To Watch
Ohio State vs. Iowa (November 20th)

Chances are, this game will probably decide who wins the Big 10 title. However, this game could have much bigger implications as well. If both teams manage to stay perfect up to this point in the season, the winner could be headed to Glendale in January. Clock management will probably be a factor in this game, just as it was last year.

Conference Predictions

1. Ohio State (12-0, [8-0])
2. Iowa (10-2, [6-2])
3. Wisconsin (10-2, [6-2])
4. Penn State (9-3, [6-2])
5. Michigan State (8-4, [4-4])
6. Northwestern (8-4, [4-4])
7. Purdue (7-5, [4-4])
8. Michigan (5-7, [3-5])
9. Illinois (3-9, [2-6])
10. Minnesota (3-9, [0-8])
11. Indiana (2-10, [0-8])

Next, I’ll be taking a half step back and a leap South as I preview the Sun Belt Conference.

– K. Becks

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