Fourteen schools all alike in dignity, in fair middle America where we lay our scene…
The story of the Big 10 in recent decades has had enough twists, turns and headlines to match any of Shakespeares great comedies. It is a conference that is always full of surprises. From last seasons late night show that was Purdue upsetting Ohio State. To that same State team destroying Michigan in a fixture so important it is known simply as ‘the Game’. With its two premier teams back to full strength and a supporting cast of middling sides that few other conferences can match, it is clear this season is going to be another drama filled ride for fans of any Big 10 school.
Big 10 East – A Tale of Two Powerhouses…
Michigan and Ohio State, a rivalry that is almost as old as the game of college football itself. It is a game that is appointment viewing for any college football fan. It will decide the Big 10 East once again this season.
The favourites – Ohio State. State come into the season defending the Big 10 title they won last season with a new head coach and a new quarterback. In Ryan Day they have a coach with very little experience, but someone who did well in a four game stint filling in for former Head Coach Urban Meyer at the start of last season. He is joined by transfer quarterback Justin Fields. Fields is inexperienced, but the athletes around him are stellar. It is that athletic ability that should lead State to another division title.
On the defensive side, star rusher Nick Bosa has left for the NFL. In his place is another rusher just as good. Chase Young could conceivably be the number one pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s sure to make a massive impact next season.
The biggest challenger to OSU is Michigan. The Wolverines have failed to perform on the big stage under legendary head coach Jim Harbaugh. Can they take the next step? Quarterback Shea Patterson isn’t a top calibre passer, but with the weapons he has on offense this team should score points. On the defensive side of the ball, Don Brown is replacing lots of talent. But the veteran coordinator has a nasty secondary with shut down potential. Michigan has been consistent against the middle of the pack teams, they will need to hit the OSU game unbeaten to have any chance at the division.
Best of the Rest
In addition to the powerhouses; Penn State and Michigan State have the potential to cause problems. Both have nasty defences, but with Penn State losing a lot of talent at quarterback and running back, I’d expect Michigan State to be the real challenger to the top two. Outside of those four teams the teams in the bottom half of the division still have some way to go before challenging. Maryland will probably have multiple 1,000 yard rushers and will certainly cause someone a scare. However Indiana and Rutgers could be two of the worst teams in the country.
Favourites – Ohio State
Dark Horses – Penn State
Division MVP – Chase Young
Biggest Game – Michigan vs Ohio State – The Big House – 30th November
Big 10 West – The Three Musketeams…
The Big 10 West has the potential to be one of the closest conferences in the country. The top three teams boast one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the country, two of the nations best offensive lines, almost certainly the nations leading rusher and the best pass rusher in the nation.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have the tools to make a serious run at the division this season. They are strong on both sides of the trench, with an experienced head at quarterback and underrated athletes across the field. They have a good schedule, with the big tests coming against Michigan and the two other strong sides in their division. Win two of those three and they could be heading to Indy for the conference championship game.
Scott Frost a former legendary quarterback at Nebraska was a dream head coaching hire for the fanbase. The talented former UCF coach is now into his second year and things look like they’re beginning to come together. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is one of the most exciting playmakers in the country and has the potential to take this team to a title. Nebraska is slightly inexperienced, but Frost has turned over the roster incredibly quickly. Frost built a monster at UCF, it looks like he could be doing the same with Nebraska.
Wisconsin comes into 2019 off a down year. Standards weren’t met across the board and the team is ready to put things right. Star running back Jonathon Taylor enters the year as the biggest offensive name in this conference. Taylor is a throwback who has the potential to put up a ton of yards behind this offensive line this season. With an inexperienced quarterback under centre, Wisconsin is going to have to rely on Taylor and the defense to win this division.
Best of the Rest
Minnesota and Purdue both have potential to be exciting on offense. Purdue sophomore Rondale Moore is a gamebreaker who you should tune in to watch at every opportunity. Whilst both teams should be fun to watch, I can’t see them challenging the top three. Reigning division champs Northwestern will take major steps back given the talent they have lost and Illinois will need a major rebuild to contend.
Favourites – Wisconsin
Dark Horses – Iowa
Division MVP – Adrian Martinez
Biggest Game – Wisconsin vs Iowa – Camp Randall Stadium WI – November 9th.
I am not a believer in Shea Patterson, for that reason I don’t think Michigan makes it out of the East. I think we will see a repeat of last year with Ohio State representing that side of the conference in the championship game.
In the West I am a believer in Adrian Martinez and Scott Frost. I think Nebraska makes it out of the West over Iowa and Wisconsin just because they have by far the best passer of the three teams.
Conference Champion – Ohio State
I think Ohio State wins the conference without losing a game earning them a spot in the college football playoff. OSU has superior athletes to the rest of the conference and the continuity in transitioning to a head coach who was already on staff is huge. Nebraska have the talent to cause a huge upset on the biggest stage, but it is very unlikely they can actually pull it off.
Image – Medium