As the summer months approach, we get closer and closer to August, which, at least to the college football fanatic, means that two-a-days are just a couple of months away, and the CFB season will be underway. Last week, we broke down each division of the ACC, and this week, we take a crack at the Big Ten.
1. Ohio State: Look for quarterback Terrelle Pryor to build off his Rose Bowl performance last season. Running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will follow another strong and experienced offensive line. Brian Rolle leads the defense along with All-Big Ten Second Team selection Thaddeus Gibson anchoring the defensive line. The Buckeyes have a difficult trip to Iowa City, but an improved Pryor and the Buckeye running game could simply be too much for the Hawkeyes to handle, even in Iowa City. Pryor’s athleticism coupled with head coach Jim Tressel’s dominant defenses should be too much for the rest of the Big Ten.
2. Wisconsin: Look for running back John Clay to put together an even better season than a year ago, when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. If he does as expected, he will make the trip to New York for the Heisman presentation at season’s end. Bret Bielema put a 10-win season together, which was capped off by a dominant performance against the Miami Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl. This could be the season that puts Bielema over the hump, but in order to do so, he will have to out-slug Iowa at Iowa City on October 23rd.
3. Iowa: Running back Adam Robinson returns after a solid 2009 campaign, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi and favorite target Marvin McNutt return as well. The losses on the offensive line, most notably, last year’s Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Bryan Bulaga may have a negative effect on the ‘Hawks ground game. Kirk Ferentz is one of the most talented coaches in the country and will have another great defense, but unless Stanzi is more consistent this year, Iowa will have a very difficult time winning out, although they do get Ohio State and Wisconsin at home this year.
4. Penn State: Joe Pa’s squad should be solid again this year, but replacing quarterback Daryll Clark will be a tall order. Running back Evan Royster and a seasoned offensive line that, coming out of spring ball looks to have four seniors and a junior should help the starter at QB, which appears to be sophomore Kevin Newsome going into summer workouts. Defensively, the Nittany Lions lose Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Jared Odrick all three starting linebackers, but as usual, Paterno has more than adequate talent in the wings. A strong running game another stout PSU defense should keep PSU in the hunt this season.
5: Michigan State: Quarterback Kirk Cousins returns for the Spartans and will try to build on his 2,600-yard, 19 touchdown performance from last season. Defensively, MSU returns senior linebacker Greg Jones that adds CB Johnny Adams after missing last season. Head Coach Mark Dantonio is now entering his fourth year in East Lansing but he is 0-3 in bowl games so far. Dantonio has recruited some solid players and they are beginning to fill starting roles. He must improve on last year’s 6-7 record, and that seems likely with Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue all at home this season. The Spartans also have hated Notre Dame in their backyard this year as well and will look to take advantage of the new coaching regime for the Irish.
Check back next week for more articles and predictions for the upcoming CFB season, and let us know your feedback!