Big Ten Football Predictions 2011: So Who's Going to Win the Big Ten?

Alex FergusonSenior Analyst IIAugust 30, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 30:  Assistant Head Coach Luke Fickell speaks to the media during a press conference before the start of Spring practices at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at The Ohio State University on March 30, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Fickell will serve as the interim head coach during the 2011 season when head coach Jim Tressel serves a five game suspension.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Big Ten welcomes Nebraska and splits its conferences into two divisions. The two names for the division—Legends and Leaders—are absolutely stupid, but sadly won't go anywhere at the end of the season unless Joe Paterno retires (but he's got the damn trophy named after him). 

Anywhere, here are our five big questions.

1. Can Ohio State Rebound from a Terrible Offseason? 

It's been an horrific offseason for the Buckeyes, losing coach Jim Tressel and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor in one fell swoop in the "Cash for Tats" scandal. Anyway, Luke Finkel's in charge now as the "interim coach," and despite losing starting talent for the first five games, we think they'll start the season a comfortable 4-0 with the "toss-up game" at home to Michigan State.

Then, when running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVir Posey come back (as well as starting tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas), the Buckeyes walk straight into Nebraska for a showdown with the Cornhuskers. We can't wait.

Oh, and we think Joe Bauserman will take over quarterbacking duties, although everyone's going to be talking about Braxton Miller by season's end. The kid's a freak. 

2. How About the Michigans? 

Michigan State is in better condition than Michigan. That's probably because they don't need to deal with a crappy defense, for which they return six returning starters. And while we love Michigan's Denard Robinson (the guy's the Human Joystick Version 2011) at quarterback, Kirk Cousins has filled the Spartans fans with confidence.

MSU's Edwin Baker is going to frighten Big Ten defenses at running back—while let's be honest, we don't think Denard Robinson needs a running back—and receiver Junior Hemingway might cause some problems for the secondaries if No. 16 doesn't.

Let's be honest, Brady Hoke (Michigan's new coach) is going to have to sort out the defense. If he does, then the game against Notre Dame at The Big House in Week 2 is going to be a monster. 

3. Coming: The Children of the Corn

Nebraska has arrived and should go 4-0 before they go to Camp Randall for a monster matchup with Wisconsin. Taylor Martinez is the man to watch—although coach Bo Pellini's quite the highlight, because watching him lose it is always fun.

If Martinez falls apart like he did in 2010, then the pressure's going to be on running back Rex Burkhead to produce. But the great thing for Pellini is that his defense returns seven starters, including two of 2010's best tacklers—LaVonte David and Jared Crick—both of whom will be drafted next April. 

4. From Red to Red

Wisconsin has had a lot of media love this offseason, with taking in NC State's quarterback Russell Wilson and putting him in Badger Red. He's going to be an awesome asset for Wisconsin, who are also going to have Montee Ball running the ball down people's throats behind the team's giant offensive tackles.

Fan favourite WR Nick Toon's going to continue to be a great target for Wisconsin, which is tipped by many to go to the Rose Bowl. We'll see how good this team is when they play Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State in an ugly October. 

5. Who's Going To Be Quarterback at Penn State?

Who's going to be Penn State's QB this year—Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin? No one really knows. Until the Nittany Lions have this settled, no one really knows how JoePa's men are going to get on this year.

Another clue's going to be the home game against Alabama on Week 2...

Players To Watch: Denard Robinson (Michigan), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin), Taylor Martinez (Nebraska), Michael Mauti (Penn State), Derek Moye (Penn State), Dan Persa (Northwestern), Montee Ball (Wisconsin).

Games To Watch  

Alabama at Penn State

Sorry friends, this Week 2 clash in Happy Valley might not be a "Big Ten clash," but it's a massive game with an atmosphere to match. Should be electric.

Ohio State at Nebraska

The superpower of the Big Ten mixing it with the new arrival. We can't wait.

Wisconsin at Nebraska

Russell Wilson's a great quarterback? We'll see against the Blackshirt defence! 

Notre Dame at Michigan

Always fun. Now, even better under the lights, with a ranked (not rank) Notre Dame coming into Ann Arbor! The Brady Hoke era starts here.

Ohio State at Miami

Note: This game might not be relevant due to NCAA ruling on both sides.

Michigan State at Notre Dame

One of the greatest finishes of 2010 was at this game. We can't wait for the 2011 installment.

Michigan State at Ohio State

These two haven't played since 2008—but MSU's a hell of a lot better since then.

Northwestern at Boston College

Dan Persa's Heisman campaign could get a bit of kick in this ACC-Big Ten clash.

Michigan at Michigan State

Denard vs. Kirk Part Two. Except with better D.

Nebraska at Penn State

This one's going to have "atmosphere." A lot of atmosphere.

So Who's Going To Win It All? 

Ohio State beats Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game for a Rose Bowl berth.


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