The Big Ten went just 1 – 6 in bowl games last season. They were criticized greatly and the whole conference will need to bounce back to convince people the winner deserves to be in the running for the National Championship. The good news is that much of the Big Ten is improved but who will win the conference championship?
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State has a lot of question marks. The Nittany Lions lose 16 of their starters. Usually a team would have no chance with that many losses but with Darryl Clark, Evan Royster and Joe Paterno leading the way I wouldn’t count them out.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Terrelle Pryor is a very talented young player but a little over hyped. Let’s see what everyone thinks of Pryor after the USC game. If he handles the USC game then maybe they win the Big Ten but I doubt that is the way it will go down.
The Hawkeyes had the 13th defense in the nation last season and bring back most of their defense. The Hawkeyes lost their best offensive player, running back Shonn Greene. The defense will keep the Hawkeyes in every game but they might not have the offense to score the big touchdowns late in games.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Juice Williams is one of the stars of the Big Ten. Williams led the Illini to the 19th ranked offense in the nation. The defense is only average though and Illinois just doesn’t have the firepower to compete with the top teams in the Big Ten.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last season the Gophers started the season 7 – 1 then ended the season by losing five in a row. Minnesota brings back their quarterback, offensive line, receiver Eric Decker and eight of their defensive starters. The only question is, are they a 7 – 1 team or a 0 – 5 team? My guess is somewhere in between.
The Badgers will not have much of a passing attack in 2009. Wisconsin will have to go at it with some old school defense and rushing. They should do alright with that strategy but they’ll finish somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten.
The Wildcats lose three defensive players but the offense will be okay. The passing attack will be fine but the rushing attack isn’t. On both sides of the football Northwestern will be middle of the road and so they will be in the middle of the standings.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State had a good 2008 including a win over the Wolverines. The Spartans lose too much on both sides of the ball in 2009. The defense will still be alright but not great, but offensively Javon Ringer is one of the biggest losses in the Big Ten.
The Michigan Wolverines can’t be any worse than last year can they? The quarterback is still young but will hopefully be better. The receivers do return so they may improve offensively. The defense is still not very good.
The Boilermakers are one of the few teams that have many players returning. The problem is Purdue wasn’t very good last season so how much better will they be with the same players? They could be slightly better but they probably still lose the same amount of games.
The Indiana Hoosiers bring back a lot of their offense including the quarterback and offensive line but that isn’t a good thing. The Hoosiers offense isn’t very good and with other Big Ten teams getting better that is bad news for Indiana.