Big Ten Football: 5 Predictions for Rest of the Season
While Big Ten play is just getting underway, we are starting to get an idea of how the rest of this season will break down and play out. The B1G is definitely full of surprises early this season, largely in the respect that six teams are ranked in the coaches poll.
So far, only three teams in the B1G have a losing record, which will make for some interesting games going forward.
While the most shocking in-conference moment has happened already in the thrashing that Wisconsin put on Nebraska, the larger story might have to be the fact that Ohio State is 0-2 in conference play already and has two more games in a row against ranked opponents.
Looking ahead towards the B1G championship game and the final winner of the conference, there will be some interesting stories that will play out in the coming weeks.
Illinois Will Fall in Trap Against Purdue
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This weekend, the Illini will do battle against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a game which will have the entire Illinois campus rocking. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, their disappointing B1G start will continue as I have bought into what Ron Zook is putting out there, to an extent.
There is just too much adversity facing OSU this season, and it will be tough for them to bounce back and make it to a bowl.
Moving to the next week, Illinois goes to Purdue for a would-be easy game, however, they have three huge games the following four weeks against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. While I have personally never been one to buy into trap games, this is as clear of one as any on Illinois' schedule.
The Boilers have faced their share of problems this season, however, they are finally starting to click in all facets of the game. Their defense is starting to come around after the loss of their leader Ryan Kerrigan, and offensively, the Boilers can bring in fresh legs often to keep their run game going.
Minus an average passing game so far, the Boilers stats are pretty shocking, albeit they haven't played the toughest of competition. The players seem to really like playing for head coach Danny Hope, and if the Boilers want to keep him in West Lafayette, they will need to pull off a few upsets like this to get to bowl eligibility.
In the end, I feel the Boilers will run the ball to control the clock and play tough defense in a low scoring affair. If the Boilers do pull off this win, the Illini will not have a shot at getting to the B1G title game.
Michigan State Will Beat Michigan
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On Sunday, the battle for the state of Michigan is on when the Michigan Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on Sparty. This is a battle of top 25 teams and also to determine who is the only undefeated team in the Legends division.
While all eyes have been on Brady Hoke and his first season at the helm of Michigan, they are very overrated in a sense that they haven't truly done anything too impressive. Looking at common opponents, yes Michigan beat Notre Dame while State got demolished by the Irish, however Sparty has looked good since then, playing complete games led by their defense.
Everyone has their attention on Denard Robinson, who has been playing top notch football so far this season, albeit against very average defenses to put it nicely. Despite that fact though, what he is doing is nothing short of impressive.
He is off to the same start as last year where he put up huge numbers early, and then, when B1G play started, he was nowhere to be found.
I see Michigan State pulling an upset at home to give the fans something to celebrate, also ending Michigan's hopes to win the B1G in the same strike, but more on that later.
Russell Wilson Will Win the Heisman
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The Wisconsin Badgers' starting quarterback who transferred in from NC State is having one outstanding season leading the Badgers to an unbeaten record so far, including a win in dominating style against Nebraska.
There is still a lot of football left to be played, however, if the Badgers can remain unbeaten through the B1G schedule, there is a good chance he will be in play for the Heisman Trophy.
Through the halfway point, Wilson has 1,391 yards, a 74.8 completion percentage, 13 touchdowns with only one interception. He is playing smart and leading this offense, which is run oriented, to wins by not making mistakes and being a fantastic leader.
Look for his stats to be padded a bit this weekend when the Badgers take on the Hoosiers of Indiana.
With the offensive line that Wisconsin produces year in and year out, it makes the job a lot easier for a quarterback, giving play action even more disguise for the offense.
Nebraska Will Bounce Back from Loss and Win Legends Division
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Nebraska is too good of a football team to let a horrible loss to Wisconsin define their season. They have a solid quarterback in Taylor Martinez, who offers a dual threat and keeps the opposing defenses on their heels. Martinez has at least one rushing touchdown in each game so far this season.
On top of elite quarterback play, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is a defensive oriented coach which has always been a staple to his Nebraska teams. If you have ever heard the name Ndamukong Suh or Jared Crick, these are products of Bo Pelini defenses.
While there are still some challenging games on their schedule, the fact that none of them have seen Nebraska and aren't familiar with their offense will help Nebraska. I don't think that there is much stock in Michigan or Michigan State, the Penn State game could be the toughest test left on their schedule going into Happy Valley.
Wisconsin Stays Undefeated, Will Play for National Championship
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This might not be the boldest of predictions, however, the Badgers seem to be closer and closer to cracking into the elite three teams in college football. With the depth of the SEC, it would not be a surprise to see no undefeated teams come out of their conference which will put an interesting debate on the table.
Should an undefeated Wisconsin play for the championship over a one-loss SEC team?
Personally, I understand that all the recent champions come from the SEC, however I would not be able to pass up an unbeaten team from the B1G or even Boise State for a one loss team, regardless of the resume.
Wisconsin has shown this year that they have the team to beat in the B1G after their dominating performance of Nebraska.
The interesting question will play out if there are four unbeaten teams at the end of the season, who plays for the title, and is there a split championship? Let's say that Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU and Boise are all unbeaten at the end of the season. Who plays for the title?
As a B1G student and advocate I would love to see Wisconsin represent in the title game, however, in that scenario I do not see Wisconsin getting in.
I do think that the SEC will not stay undefeated, and we will see a Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin championship game.