Posted on 24 May 2010.
With Spring Football officially in the books and summer workouts right around the corner, College FootBlog is taking a conference by conference look at the upcoming 2010 football season. In last week’s edition, we provided a breakdown and power ranking for each division of the ACC (see links for Atlantic and Coastal).
In this week’s two-part article, we take a look at the Big Ten, giving insight and analysis from last season, what we learned from the spring and what the outlook will be for this fall. In Part I of the Big Ten breakdown, we rank the preseason #6-#11 teams, which will be immediately followed by our top five.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald coaches with the same emotion with which he played (google images)
6: Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald does more with little than any coach in the FBS. His Wildcats will once again be counted out by most pollsters, but don’t be surprised if they exceed expectations again in 2010 (even in our poll). NU loses seven wideouts from last year’s team and must also replace quarterback Mike Kafka. Filling the role of trigger man for the NU offense will be Dan Persa, who had a solid spring and has more running ability than Kafka. The defense should be decent, led by a couple of senior linebackers, Quentin Davie and Nate Williams. Regardless of depth and overall talent, Coach Fitzgerald will have his team playing hard and smart, and that should be enough to get them to another bowl game this fall.
7. Purdue: The Boilermakers should be an interesting team in 2010. This year, former Miami Hurricanes’ quarterback Robert Marve is eligible and will get his opportunity to be the starter. If they are going to keep this power ranking, they must improve on their defense against the run, which gave up more than 170 yards on the ground per game. The Boilermakers proved to Ohio State last year that they can play well in West Lafayette, and with visits from Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana, Purdue will have a great opportunity to finish above those programs at season’s end.
8. Michigan: Rich Rodriguez is going to be coaching for his job this fall. After a 4-0 start last season, the Wolverines dropped seven of their last eight games, and the defense was…well…not good, ranking 82nd nationally in a conference that did was not known last season for having explosive offenses. Tate Forcier is a very exciting player at QB, and Denard Robinson gives defenses a change of pace, but all the offense in the world will not be enough unless the defense improves dramatically this season.
9. Indiana: Quarterback Ben Chappell returns for his senior season and despite throwing for nearly 3,000 yards last season, he must improve his TD/Int ratio, which was 17/15 last fall. The Hoosiers travel to Ohio State and Wisconsin this year and play host to Iowa and Penn State. Barring a huge upset, they will be 0-4 in those games, and it will be all they can do to escape the cellar of the conference. IU ranked 88th in total defense last year, and unless something changes in a big way, they will have a similar defense this time around. A bad defense and an offense that turns the ball over will make it difficult to stay above water in the Big Ten in 2010.
10: Minnesota: After a solid 2008 season, quarterback Adam Weber took a step backwards last season, throwing more picks (15) than he did touchdowns (13). The Gophers sported the Big Ten’s worst offense, and only managed 13 rushing touchdowns all season. They now have their third offensive coordinator in three years, which makes it hard to believe things will change for the better in 2010. Defensively, the entire front seven from last year’s middle-of-the-pack defense is gone. Final verdict–things are not looking good for the 2010 campaign in Minneapolis.
11. Illinois: The Ron Zook experiment will likely come to an end this season. Zook has always been an elite recruiter, but he has once again proven that he cannot put a championship football team together, despite having enough talent to compete with anyone in his conference. The departure of Arrelious Benn takes away the Illini’s only legitimate playmaker from last year’s team.
Look for our Top 5 Preseason Teams from the Big Ten tomorrow!