Although it’s only July, we thought it was about time to start thinking a little bit about college football. What better way to kick things off than to take a look ahead at the Big 10 Conference. Traditional powerhouse football programs like Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan, and Penn State make the Big Ten one of the toughest conferences in the country every year. This year will be no different with 3 teams ranked in the top 10 to begin the year. The question is who will win the Big 10 in 2012?
2012 Big 10 Football Rankings
The Big 10 is always a defense first conference. MSU should have the stingiest defense in the conference as they will be returning 9 starters from a squad the boasted the top overall defense. There are some questions on offense but a solid running game should help new QB Andrew Maxwell settle in.
It never really seems to matter where people predict the Badgers to finish since they are always in the hunt for a Big 10 title when the season comes to an end. Like MSU, there are some questions on offense but Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball is back to dominate the running game and the defense should be as good as ever. The Badgers also have a rather favorable schedule as MSU and OSU will have to make the trip to Camp Randall Stadium.
The Wolverines easily could be the #1 team this preseason with a potent offense led by Denard Robinson and Fitz Toussaint. However, offensive juggernauts typically do not fare all that well in the Big 10. Michigan’s schedule is also rather difficult with a date with Alabama in addition to conference games against Nebraska and Ohio State on the road.
New head coach Urban Meyer has his work cut out for him rebuilding a team that finished 6-7 last year. However, OSU has a lot of talent coming in with the #1 recruiting class in the Big 10 which includes two 5-star and thirteen 4-star prospects. The new talent should help Coach Meyer install his new offense.
The Cornhuskers appear destined for Big 10 mediocrity this season. While they have a sure and steady offense with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead leading the way, there are still many questions on defense. They also have a tough schedule that includes road games against Ohio State and Michigan State.
Chalk this up as another lost season as PSU will be looking to get the Joe Paterno – Jerry Sandusky stink off the football program. They still have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball but no one knows what the 2012 squad is going to look like outside of tailback Silas Redd.
Purdue could be one of the bigger surprises in the Big 10 this year. They are fresh off a bowl victory in 2011 and will return most of their impact players. This team will go as far as QB Rob Henry will take them.
The Wildcats lost their QB – WR combo with Dan Persa and Jeremy Ebert leaving. However, Kain Colter gained some valuable experience last year and showed his is more than capable of running the offense. The big questions for Northwestern comes on defense. If they can figure out a way to stop anybody this team could surprise some people.
Most think the Hawkeyes are better than 9th in the big 10 but they lost a lot of talent from a mediocre 7-5 team. Iowa #6 ranked recruiting class just won’t have enough impact players to truly contend in the Big 10.
The Illini have a new head coach and there will certainly be some adjustment that will need to take place before U of I makes any impact in the Big 10. They do have some talent on defense so don’t be surprised if they pull off an upset or two but consistency will certainly be a problem.
If the Gophers were in the Leaders Division they might have a shot if quarterback MarQueis Gray can continue to develop. However, they are in the Legends Division and it will not be a fun season for them.
12. Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers finished just 1-11 last year. While we expect them to improve quite a bit over last season, it’s hard to imagine this team competing for much. Hey, at least the Hoosier have only one direction to go…up!
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