Last year’s Big Ten league was pretty terrible. Only four teams ranked, and the two that did (Michigan and Nebraska) were ranked 24 and 25, and the second best team, Northwestern, finished 17. Ouch. In fact, the Big 10 hasn’t won a national championship since Ohio State in 2002. So, let’s review the teams for the upcoming 2013 season.
1.) Ohio State
Urban Meyer had an awful year last year with a 12-0 record. He is not known for keeping his players in line, either at his previous post as Gators head coach and the Aaron Hernandez shenangians or with his current Buckeye players. He really needs to step up, but with players Braxton Miller as QB and Carlos Hyde as RB, they have a shot at ending the SEC’s reign.
The Detroit native, Devon Gardner, will start his junior year season as the starting QB after only playing a little last season, and at WR for parts of his first two years. Brady Hoke has done an excellent job recruiting high quality talent, such as newbie running back Derrick Green, to support his pro-style offense, and the go away from the spread offense of previous coach Rich Rodriguez. They’re looking good this year!
While the Wildcats were the second best team of the Big 10 last year, they still weren’t particularly noticeable. They still have the very talented senior running back, Venric Mark and the equally thoughtful coach, Pat Fitzgerald. This year, the Wildcats have a huge advantage as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State will play on their home grass.
The Huskers have had a rough go of it lately. Every season they have huge expectations, and the last two seasons have been particularly bad, specifically when Wisconsin creamed them 70-31 in the title game. This year isn’t shaping up too great either with another year of Martinez.
5.) Penn State
Under penalty last year for the Sandusky scandal, The Nittany Lions should do well this year under Bill O’Brien. Unfortunately, they are still ineligible for the postseason for three more years. The team is made up of high quality tight ends, like Breneman
6.) Michigan State
The Spartans defense looks stellar again this year, as they did last year. Their offense game, on the other hand, needs a ton of help. They lost a key player in RB Le’Veon Bell. Their passing game needs a ton of help too. On their side is a weak schedule in their favor which might propel them into a quality bowl.
The new coach, Gary Andersen, hails from Utah State, after previous coach Bret Bielema departed for Fayetteville. The Badgers will continue on with the power running game, but the new OC has big plans to improve the passing game. The Badgers are blessed with an easy schedule, they don’t play Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska, so they’ll lack the game play to somehow get into the Rose Bowl for a fourth year.
The Hoosiers had the most passing yards per game in the Big Ten last . Indiana has an abysmal track record, with having played in one bowl in the last 20 seasons, but this year they have an advantage with an easier schedule than 2012. Head Coach Kevin Wilson has his choice this year of starting QB with Cameron Coffman, Tre Roberson, and the rising sophomore Nate Sudfeld.
The Boilermakers have high hopes with new coach from Kent State, Darrell Hazell. Hopefully he is able to work some magic on this team, who have only had one double digit win since 1979. Ouch. A lot of things are not on Purdue’s side, like a challenging schedule and an inexperienced backfield.
Last year was pretty lackluster for the Gophers with only a 6-7 season with a loss to coach-less Texas Tech in a pre-New Year’s Day bowl. Minnesota takes on terrible opponents in the non-con schedule , so there is a good chance they could be 4-0 heading into conference play.
Coach Ferentz is back again and his team is just above .500 since 2005, if the fluke 2009 Orange Bowl season was toss out that is. An unnamed QB starts this year and they have a tough schedule. The 2013 season is not shaping up well for the Hawkeyes.
Senior QB, Nate Scheelhaase is expected to have another stellar season, Heisman-worthy, even. The team, though, might be a different story. Scheelhaase, is a run-first, pass-last type of guy. Good news for Illinois, though, is that they move tot he West division next year.
So there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2013 Big Ten Football.