College Football 2011: Who's Going to Win the Big 10?
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 off-season?
It's been an horrific off-season 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-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, 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 match-up 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 off-season, 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.2. Expect 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 10 Championship Game for a Rose Bowl berth.
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