My 3 Bold Predictions for the Big Ten
Yet again the Big Ten will be led by it’s 3 headed monster, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. It is clear the other 11 teams will be lacking in talent and relevance this season. It would be nice for the Big Ten to have a team in the West surge to national prominence again, like Nebraska, but their transition into the Big Ten hasn’t quite worked out like some expected. I am looking forward to the round robin of conference games between Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Those are must watch games every year, and I expect nothing different this season. Now let’s take a look at some predictions.
Michigan will win the Big Ten and make the CFP
I know this may not seem like a bold prediction, but with most people playing it safe and picking Ohio State, I’m going to make a case for the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh has been the highlight of the college football offseason. From making appearances on different outlets to promote his program to the big splash he made with satellite camps, it was hard to not talk about Harbaugh and Michigan. Usually I am weary of getting behind a coach that says, “Look at me,” the way Harbaugh has, but I really think that’s what drives him. Being in the limelight is how Harbaugh is going to get Michigan back on the map and having a little cocky attitude along the way is only going to get his team to play with that swagger from Michigan’s glory days. And I think Harbaugh likes a good challenge. Last year he doubled Michigan’s win total from 2014, and this year I think he looks at the MSU and OSU games being on the road as his next challenge. He knows the MSU game got away from them last year and they will be looking to make a statement to OSU that Michigan is back and ready to compete. I think Harbaugh gets this team to buy in and they surprise alot of people this year. I have no doubt that Harbaugh will get his QB (whether it’s Wilton Speight or John O’Korn) ready to compete at a high level. The rest of the offense will be a repeat from last year and I only expect them to improve. The defense I’m a little more worried about as DC DJ Durkin left to be HC at Maryland and they lose their top 3 tacklers from a season ago. I think Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis will anchor the back of the D and the front 7 will mold together as the season goes. This Michigan team is good we’ll just see if they are ready to silence the critics and win the big games this year.
Minnesota @ Nebraska will decide who wins the Big Ten West
So Iowa kind of came out of nowhere last year to finish undefeated in the regular season and win the Big Ten West. This season they return their QB CJ Beathard and 8 starters from their defense, including All-American CB Desmond King. Many are concluding with these starters back will equal another Big Ten West crown. Not so fast my friend, Iowa showed weaknesses throughout last season, but was able to close all of their close games. This year they will have a bigger target on their back and don’t see them from escaping every close game with a win. Insert Minnesota @ Nebraska on November 12. I like Minneosta because they have by far the easiest Big Ten schedule and will return RB, Rodney Smith from injury, and their steady QB Mitch Leidner. Their defense loses a couple of key pieces, but I expect they will do fine with their schedule. Looking at Nebraska, I think they showed what they could be in last year’s bowl upset over UCLA. I don’t think many aren’t expecting Mike Riley to succeed at Nebraska, but I see him exceeding expectations this year behind a defensive that will be led by their D-line up front and an offense that will really shine with Tommy Armstrong at QB — that is if Armstrong can limit turnovers. He threw 16 INTs last year and Nebraska had a dreadful -12 TO Margin. If they can improve that this year I expect them to compete for a Big Ten West crown.
Purdue starts the season 5–0
In Darrell Hazell’s first 3 seasons Purdue has won total 6 games and only two conference games. So how in the world are they going to start 5–0?? This team has 8 returning starters on offense and 8 returning starters on defense. They know Darrell Hazell’s job is on the line and I think they are going to show alot of heart to start the season. After their first 5 games and their schedule turns towards the meat of conference play, I don’t see them continuing their hot start, but I think it will be enough to keep Coach Hazell in West Lafayette for one more year. A couple of names to look out for are Soph RB Markell Jones (10 rushing TDs in 2015), Sr WR DeAngelo Yancey (7 rec TDs in 2015) and Sr DT Jake Replogle (12 TFL in 2015).
That wraps up my thoughts on the Big Ten for 2016. Since I didn’t get to my MAC prediction today I’ll be coming out with a 3-peat of predictions for tomorrow — featuring the MAC, the AAC, and finally the SEC. Looking forward to breaking it down. Thanks for reading!