The Country’s Top Conference? A Big Ten Season Preview

The Big Ten returns this season as one of the most highly anticipated chasms of the college football universe. The conference boasts 4 of the top 11 teams in the AP Top 25 and also has three other schools receiving votes. After having ten of it’s teams play in bowl games last year, the conference is poised to have repeat success. The conference has four teams with legitimate chances at the College Football Playoff and that should should make for a fun season.

Predictions

Big Ten East Champion:

Ohio State- The Buckeyes return 15 starters from a squad that reached the College Football Playoff last year. J.T. Barrett leads an offense under a new offensive coordinator while their defense will roll out one of the most talented front sevens in the country. I think the Big Ten East will come down to the final game of the season against the Wolverines. Winner will represent the East in the championship game.

Big Ten West Champion:

Wisconsin- The truth is that no one will come real close to challenging the Badgers for this spot. I think Northwestern and Nebraska both have an outside chance but its the Badger’s to lose. The Badger’s will be led by a very talented defense and bolstered a underrated defensive line and a solid secondary. On offense, Alex Hornibrook will look to improve on an impressive freshman season. Tight end Troy Fumagalli will be the key to their offense as he was the leading receiver last season and should only get better.

Standings:

2017 Big Ten Standings Projection
East: Conf. Record West: Conf. Record
Ohio State 8-1 Wisconsin 8-1
Michigan 7-2 Northwestern 6-3
Penn State 7-2 Nebraska 5-4
Michigan State 4-5 Iowa 5-4
Indiana 4-5 Minnesota 5-4
Maryland 1-8 Illinois 2-7
Rutgers 0-9 Purdue 1-8

Offensive Player of the Year:

Saquon Barkely, RB, Penn State

Myself and others at N2K think that Barkley has a real shot at winning the Heisman this year. He is an extremely talented back that reminded some of Barry Sanders. I expect him to make a push for the Heisman as well as be named the best player in the Big Ten

Others To Consider- Justin Jackson, JT Barrett, Alex Hornibrook, Mike Weber

Defensive Player of the Year:

Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

Jewell has been a tackling machine over his career at Iowa. He has 301 total tackles in his first 3 seasons at Iowa to go along with 9 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles and 4 interceptions. Jewell is all over the field for the Hawkeyes and his play is recognized, being named to the Preseason All-American team this year.

Others To Consider- Tyquan Lewis, Rashaud Gary, D’Cota Dixon

Week One Matchup to Watch:

Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators. 3:30 P.M on ABC

This matchup features the #11 and #17 ranked teams in the country. Both teams have interesting quarterback situations as neither team has announced who will be under center on Saturday. For the Wolverines, it will either be returning starter Wilton Speight or career backup, John O’Korn. For the Gators, it is a little more tricky. We will see either Malik Zaire, a transfer from Notre Dame, Luke Del Rio, or Feleipe Franks. Its also possible we see a mix of two or even all three of the signal callers. Another thing to look for this Saturday is how both defenses play. Again, both teams are in similar situations in that they both lost a lot of talent to the NFL but are reloading with incredible talent. For the Wolverines, Rashan Gary will have a chance to shine. As a top recruit coming out of high school, this defensive line has disruptive ability and will be able to show it in his first season as a starter. For the Gators, expect the same from Antonneous Clayton. This sophomore will step into a starting role at defensive end for the Gators who are loaded with very young talent. The difference in this game will come down to the secondary. Both teams have a rather inexperienced defensive backs but I think Michigan holds the edge having a trio of sophomores and a junior all with some meaningful experience. I think that David Long could have a breakout year and with Florida being without their best receiver and Michigan’s ability to dominate the line, I think that Long and the others will be able force a couple turnovers and win this game for the Wolverines.

Final Score: Michigan 20, Florida 16

 

 

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