College Football Predictions: Six Big Ten Predictions for 2011
The landscape of Big Ten football has changed dramatically in the past year.
Nebraska joined the conference from the Big 12, the conference has been split in two, and a title game will determine the conference champ.
Oh, and then there is the Ohio State saga.
To sit back and predict anything for the Big Ten in the coming year is a huge task. Here goes nothing.
Michigan's Return to Prominence? Not so Fast, My Friend
Leon Halip/Getty Images
New coach Brady Hoke has his work cut out for him with the maize and blue.
The Wolverines are not that far from being a bowl contender, but as with any coaching change in college, the mistakes of the previous administration are not easily undone.
Denard Robinson is a great athlete, but not a good quarterback in terms of sound mechanics.
Robinson worked well in Rich Rodriguez's system that he adopted from his time at West Virginia.
It will be interesting to see if Robinson will be able to adapt to Hoke's scheme.
The New Kid in Town: Nebraska
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Nebraska was a program on the rise in the Big 12.
Bo Pelini has built a great program, but will their style of play translate to the tough, physical play of the Big Ten?
Nebraska's quarterback situation is up in the air with Taylor Martinez falling out of favor.
Also, Nebraska has extended a scholarship offer to Bubba Starling, who was drafted in the MLB draft last night by the Kansas City Royals with the fifth overall selection.
There are plenty of if's surrounding Nebraska and their quarterback situation. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out in their first year in the conference.
JoePa Is Going Nowhere
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Fast forward to November 2011.
Joe Paterno is a month away from his 85th birthday.
As Penn State hopes for a berth in the inaugural Big Ten championship game, the retirement talk will heat up once again around Happy Valley.
He will never retire unless his body retires him.
As long as there is blood coursing through his veins, the "lion king" will remain atop Mount Nittany for as long as he can.
Ohio State: The USC of the Midwest
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
The specter of Jim Tressel will haunt the Buckeyes, just as Pete Carroll's has with USC.
Not to mention their embattled quarterback who may not return after serving a five-game suspension.
That leaves Joe Bauserman, a true sophomore, as the leading candidate to fill Terelle Pryor's shoes.
I foresee a long year for the Buckeye faithful.
Not to detract from the talent that is surely there, but there is too much inner turmoil to overcome to achieve the success that everyone is accustomed to in Columbus.
Iowa and Wisconsin: The Heavyweights
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Maybe its something in the water, but Iowa and Wisconsin always seem to produce a healthy stock of linemen.
On both sides of the ball, the linemen of Iowa and Wisconsin are synonymous with tough, hard nosed, physical play.
As a result, both teams are always in contention for the Big Ten crown.
Expect the same in 2011.
The Champion Is...
Too close to call.
With the introduction of divisions, (don't get me started on Legends and Leaders), this makes predicting a conference champion more difficult.
However, for prediction's sake, I will go out on a limb and predict the title game match-up.
At Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, the 2011 Big Ten championship game will be between Iowa and Wisconsin.
The true definition of Big Ten football will be on display in its inaugural championship game. Not the most trendy or sexy match-up (sorry Michigan-Ohio State), but it will have to do.