Big Ten Football Preview: Ohio State Will Surge, Penn State Will Purge

Nick ChartersCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2008

As it is for any other Big Ten Football season, there is a powerhouse...or two, a few decent teams, and then the rest. This year is no different.

You have the powerhouse in Ohio State, which is not only supposed to win the Big Ten but go on to its third National Title game in three years. Look for freshman five-star recruit Terrelle Pryor to be used much like Tim Tebow was in  his freshman year. Not to mention Chris Wells at tailback. Pair their tactical offense with one of the best defenses in the nation and...well, you get the idea. 

You have your above-average teams like Illinois and Wisconsin that add drama to the equation of becoming a Big Ten Champion. There are up-and-coming teams like Indiana and Northwestern. Both have had improving years and look as though they are only getting older, wiser, and better.

A team with many question marks this year is the Michigan squad. Losing four key players and a coach is never easy. Especially when the replacement coach runs a totally different-style offense. Look for Michigan to finish a game or two above .500. 

Michigan State and Penn State are two more programs that are hit or miss. With Joe Paterno getting yet another year older it will be interesting to see how his Nittany Lions rally together despite ESPN's investigation into the university's criminal records. Michigan State should have another decent year. Losing to the teams they are worse than and beating the teams they should. 

Minnesota and Iowa have lost some luster over the years. They went from being contenders to not factoring in all in a matter of a year or two.

Here is how I see the top-five Big Ten standings:

Ohio State: Running the table to another Big Ten title.

Illinois: Juice Williams will not be able to repeat the upset of Ohio State for two straight years.

Wisconsin: PJ Hill at tailback with an improved line makes this team dangerous, but they do not have a good track record of being able to compete with more physical teams.

Michigan: Look for a few rough games while they try to find their legs. It will be tough, but, with weaker teams like Minnesota and Iowa, it can be done.

Michigan State: I do not think Penn State will be able to handle JoePa and the constant reminder of the team's recent off-the-field problems. State is a solid team; it  just needs to work on closing games out.