Don't look now but we are less than a month before college football breaks camps and laces it up for real. The Big Ten has had three seasons in a row where the out of conference and bowl records were very disappointing. Not sure if much will change this year as most of the Big Ten lost key players and are now replacing them with unproven Freshmen or Sophomores. But, either way they still will hand out a Big Ten Football crown so Handicapper Craig Trapp will preview and predict the teams for the 2009 season.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2): An early season game with USC at the Horseshoe will tell us how this young Buckeye can be. Lucky for the Bucks the Big Ten is down. Only a trip to Happy Valley should give Ohio State a loss or a chance of a loss. Pryor will be the key to this team if he can progress and improve passing the ball this team could find themselves in another BCS bowl. Make sure you check out Craig's full breakdown of the Bucks 2009 team!
2. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2): Rick Stanzi is going to have a breakout season at QB for Iowa this year. The added maturity that he acquired last year in leading them to a bowl win and big upset of PSU will definitely help him this year. The defense lost some key personnel but this explosive offense will make up for there weaknesses. Only a brutal schedule keeps them from winning the Big Ten this year. Road games at: Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3): The schedule is so easy for PSU this year that if things would fall just right you could see an undefeated season. Playing both Iowa and Ohio State at home should give them a chance to win the Big Ten this year. But the bad news is returning QB Clark has lost his top three weapons and not much experience behind them. Joe Pa will have to pull some magic again and hope that the youth comes through if he is going to repeat as Big Ten champ in 2009.
4. Michigan State Spartans (8-4): Might have the biggest upside of any of the Big Ten teams this year. The defense will be one of the top defenses in all of the country. Early in the year the offense will struggle with so many new players gaining experience, but watch out once they do. Other than Ohio State this MSU has the best young talent of any team in the Big Ten. Most likely a year away from competing for a title but will be a very dangerous Big Ten opponent.
5. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-4): Talking about a team going from the penthouse to the outhouse. 2007 saw Illinois go to the Rose Bowl only to fall and hard times in 2008 missing the bowl season all together. Without a doubt Ron Zook is on the hot seat and must win this year. QB Juice Williams must improve in his decision making for this team to get back to the postseason. The defense last year was a no show and think it will be more of the same in 2009. For this team to win they will have to put up huge offensive games and not sure you can win consistently doing that.
6. Michigan Wolverines (8-4) Coach Rod has huge improvement this season but still is a year away. Also check out Craig's 5 surprising teams for 2009!!
7. Northwestern Wildcats (7-5) Last year was very exciting team offensively and will be again
8. Wisconsin Badgers (6-6)The lack of playmakers will once again hurt them.
9. Minnesota Gophers (5-7) New stadium same results
10. Purdue Boilermakers (4-8) Now you will know why Coach Tiller left
11. Indiana Hoosiers (3-9) Back at the bottom
Another year goes by and the Big Ten will once again struggle winning against the power conferences. Would not be surprised if the Big Ten ends up winless in bowls again this year. Only Ohio State can make noise this year and even the Buckeyes have big question marks going into this season.