BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012-2013 Big Ten Projections

The Big Ten, or should I say Big 12, is always one of the elite conferences in football with the most tradition. Michigan has risen from the dead and are coming off a Sugar Bowl win. Ohio State gets high profile coach Urban Meyer, but will be on probation for one year and not be able to compete for a Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin will continue to be a strong contender in the Leaders Division with Heisman Candidate Montee Ball leading the way, and Nebraska and Michigan State will look to finally make an appearance in a BCS Game.

LEADERS DIVISION            W-L                       Analysis

1. Ohio State                          10-2                       Ohio State hired Head Coach Urban Meyer, but it will not matter if Ohio State wins the Leaders Division this year, because they were placed on probation this season. This means even if the Buckeyes win their division they cannot play in the Big Ten Championship game, nor will they receive a bowl-bid. This will be a season where Meyer will see what type of talent he has. The Buckeyes have a total of 15 starters returning from last season. Sophomore Quarterback Braxton Miller looked great at times last season, but often struggled to move the offense and get them into the red zone. Braxton Miller's highlight last year was when he threw a 40 yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining in the game to beat the Wisconsin Badgers 33-29. Ohio State's offense was inconstant all year and Meyer I'm sure will bring a much better offensive scheme to the field this season. The Buckeyes offense brings back Sr. Tight End Jake Stoneburner, who had 14 receptions for 7 touchdowns, and Sr. Running back Jordan Hall. Hall cut his foot in June though and will end up missing the first ten weeks of the season. The Buckeyes defense played well last season and seemed to keep them in tight games. The Buckeyes were ranked 19 nationally on defense giving up an average of 323.5 ypg. The Buckeyes defense also returns star caliber playmakers and potential all-Big Ten Conference 1st team candidates Sr. DE John Simon,  Jr. DT Johnathan Hankins, and Jr. FS CJ Barnett. The Buckeyes will look for revenge against Michigan State on Sept. 29th, after they were nearly shutout at home last season. They will also look for revenge at home against Nebraska on Oct. 6th, after they gave up 28 unanswered points and lost in Lincoln 34-27. The Buckeyes last two games will also be challenging as they travel to Wisconsin, and then host rival Michigan, who they lost to on a last minute drive last season. You don't think Urban Meyer is focusing on that game on Nov.24th already? Realizing they could potentially ruin the Wolverines season. Think again.

2. Wisconsin                            10-3                           Wisconsin has won the Big Ten two years in a row and have made two consecutive Rose Bowls. Head Coach Brett Bielema and his Badgers will be in the hunt to win yet another Big Ten Championship and finally get a win in Pasadena. The Badgers return five starters on offense and will still be stelar with one of the best backfields in the country again. Heisman Candidate Sr. RB Montee Ball ran for 1,923 yards and 34 total touchdowns last season. The backfield also consists of Jr. Running back James White, who will complement and help take some of the work load off of Ball. The offense loses dual threat Quarterback Russell Wilson, but brings in another transfer from the ACC Conference. Jr. Quarterback Danny O'Brien, a transfer from Maryland, will look to help the Badgers make another championship run in the Big Ten. Lastly, the offense brings back Jr. Wide Receiver Jared Abbrederis, Jr. Center Travis Frederick, and Sr. Left Tackle Ricky Wagner, all of whom are potential 1st team all-Big Ten players. The Wisconsin defense will return six starters this season, which includes two of the top Linebackers in the country Senior Mike Taylor and Junior Mike Borland. The Wisconsin defense will look to be another top 15 defense in the country and try to be one of the best at defending the pass like they were last season. The Badger Defense gave up an average of 163.6 ypg. That placed the Badger defense at number four in the country. This year, the Badgers will start off to an easy 4-0, then travel to Lincoln for a night game at Memorial Stadium. Last year, the Badgers welcomed the Cornhuskers to the Big Ten by trouncing them in Madison 48-17. The Huskers will be looking for revenge. A trap game could come two weeks later when they play at Purdue. The Badgers then get both Michigan State (Oct. 27) and Ohio State (Nov.17) at home. The Badgers will finish second in the Leaders Division, but get the nod to play in the Big Ten Championship game to earn another trip to Pasadena, because Ohio State is ineligible to play in the championship game.

3. Illinois                                 7-5                              The Fighting Illini started the season off to a surprising 6-0 start and was ranked 16th in the country. Then Head Coach Ron Zook and the Illini fell flat on their face and lost their last six season games of the season in a row. They are the first team to ever start the season 6-0 and end the season by losing their last six. One positive thing is the Illini found a way to win their bowl game over UCLA 20-14. Zook is out and Toledo Head Coach Tim Beckman is in. Beckman's team returns 14 starters and dual threat Jr. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The offense fell apart last season and the Illini ended the season ranked 91st in scoring at 22.6 ppg. But, Beckman will make improvements in the offense and So. Running back Donovan Young will need to be a major part of it. The Wide Receiver position is bare without A.J. Jenkins, who was a 1st round draft pick for the San Francisco 49ers this year. The defense will be good this year once again and hopefully be able to help win the Illini some close games this season. The Illini defense was impressive and ranked 15th in the county in ypg at 286.2. The defense also only gave up an average of 19.6 ppg, which was the 15th best in the country. The defense returns dynamic Jr. Linebacker Jonathan Brown. The Fighting Illini will reach seven wins, even with a tough road schedule. Sept. 8th the Fighting Illini will travel to Tempe to face Arizona State. This win could put them in a position to start the season off 5-0. Illinois will travel back to back weeks to Wisconsin and Michigan and most likely lose both of them. After those two challenging weekends, the only other for sure loss will be at Ohio State on Nov. 3rd. Illinois will have a good chance of winning their last 4 of 5 games if they can play consistently. Illinois could potentially hit eight wins this season.                     

4. Penn State                            7-5                              If there is a team that I want to see succeed this year it is the Nittany Lions. Happy Valley has been anything but happy this past year with the death of Penn State icon Joe Paterno and everything surrounding the whole Jerry Sandusky scandal. It's been tough on the players and everyone associated with Penn State. Somehow Penn State was able to almost win the Leaders Division last season, but Wisconsin ended their dreams by crushing them in Madison 45-7. With all the controversy surrounding the program, Penn State brings in the New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien. O'Brien couldn't have come in during a tougher time at Penn State. There has been some controversy over the hire, but hopefully O'Brien will succeed and win Penn State fans over. Penn State has gone back and forth the past few seasons with quarterback Senior Matt McGloin and Junior Rob Bolden. O'Brien, who will serve as head coach and offensive coordinator,  named Matt McGloin as the starter for the upcoming season. McGloin will need to be more consistent this season and the backfield will need to continue to be strong even with the loss of Jr. Running back Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards and 7 touchdowns. Red Currently transferred to USC. The defense again will look to be a strong force for the Nittany Lions after ranking 5th in the nation last season and only giving up an average of 16.8 ppg. The Nittany Lions return one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten Sr. Gerald Hodges. Penn State should start off 4-0 on the season with home games against Ohio, Navy, Temple and an away game at Virginia. The fourth game of the season will be tough for Penn State as they travel to Illinois. Penn State will be tested in their last five of six games of the season.  Penn State should be satisfied with a seven win season. Seven wins will not get the Nittany Lions Bowl eligible though, because of a four-year bowl ban they recently received.

5. Purdue                                 6-6                               If there is a year for the Boilermakers to make a run in the Leaders Division this is it. Purdue returns eight on offense and seven on defense. In five of Purdue's seven wins last season they won by eight points or less. An offense that only averaged 26.9 ppg and was seventh in the Big Ten last season looks to improve under Sr. Quarterback Caleb Terbush. Terbush is joined by Sr. Running back Ralph Bolden and Sr. Wide Receiver Antavian Edison. The Boilermaker defense ranked almost dead last in every defensive category in the Big Ten last season. Purdue is fortunate to have Sr. Kawann Short at the defensive tackle position, who was fifth in the Big Ten last season in tackle for losses with 10.5. Purdue will get challenged in their second game of the season at Notre Dame, then have two winnable games at home against Eastern Michigan and Marshall. The next three weeks will be their most challenging contests of the season. Purdue with host Michigan (Oct.6) and Wisconsin (Oct. 13). Then travel to Ohio State (Oct. 20), who they upset last season in overtime 26-23. The last five games will either make or break the Boilermaker's season though. They will play road games at Minnesota (Oct. 27), Iowa (Nov.10), and Illinois (Nov. 7).  Their home games will be against Penn State (Nov. 3) and Indiana (Nov. 24). The Boilermakers will win three of these games to become bowl eligible, or prove they are better than last year and win all five games to give them a total of eight wins.

6. Indiana                                 3-9                              It is going to be another tough go around for the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers went 1-11 and their one win came against FCS opponent South Carolina State 38-21. The Hoosiers will return a total of 15 starters, which could potentially give them two more wins than last season. Unfortunately, Indiana has four total seniors in their starting line-up, meaning next year and the year after they will have a chance to possibly be a 6-6 team. The best player on Indiana is Jr. Wide Receiver Kofi Hughes, who had 536 total receiving yards and only 3 touchdowns. The Hoosiers SHOULD win their first three games of the season against Indiana State, UMASS, and Ball State. The only Big Ten game I can see Indiana pulling off is an upset at home against Iowa (Nov.3), that might even be a stretch. 2nd year Head Coach Kevin Wilson should be grateful if his team can find a way to hit four or five wins this season.

LEGENDS DIVISION          W-L                              Analysis

1. Michigan                             11-2                              The Michigan Wolverines are on cloud nine after going 11-2 and winning the Sugar Bowl last season. Head Coach Brady Hoke meant business when he was hired and has turned this program back into one of the top programs in the country. Michigan returns 13 starters from last season. The offense consists of potential Heisman candidate and dual-threat Sr. Quarterback Denard Robinson. Last season, Robinson rushed for 1,176 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Robinson's passing was much improved from the the 2009 and 2010 season as well. He averaged 15.3 yards per completion and passed for 2,173 yards with 20 touchdown passes. The Wolverines also potentially return Jr. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, if he is let back onto the team after a DUI arrest in July. Toussaint became the starter half way through the season and became a force in the Michigan offense with 1,041 yards and 9 touchdowns. Senior stand out Wide Receiver Roy Roundtree also returns and looks to be Robinson's main target along with 5'8 Jr. Wide Receiver Jeremy Gallon. This year, the defense will look to be even more solid than they were last season. A Michigan defense that gave up an average of 35.2 ppg in 2010 under Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson only gave up 17.4 ppg under Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison last season. Sr. MLB Kenny Demens returns and looks to be an important aspect this season as he had a total of 94 tackles least season. The Wolverines open up the season against National Champion Alabama in Cowboy Stadium (Arlington, TX). The Wolverines may start off the season 0-1, but that is acceptable. On Sep. 22nd, the Wolverines will travel to Notre Dame and look to win their fourth straight over the Irish. Michigan will need a win over Notre Dame to give them a confidence booster for Big Ten Conference play. The Wolverines should go 7-1 or 6-2 in Big Ten play. Michigan will be challenged in three Big Ten Games. Michigan will see if they can end their four game losing streak to in-state rival Michigan State on Oct. 20th. Michigan will travel for a night game at Nebraska on Oct. 27th and also travel to Columbus on Nov. 24th to take on the Buckeyes. Michigan should be a lock for the Big Ten Championship and be Rose Bowl bound for the first time since the 2006 season.

2. Nebraska                              9-3                             The Nebraska Huskers for the past three years have been so close to making their first BCS game since the 2001-2002 season. Before the Huskers departed to the Big Ten, Nebraska lost two consecutive Big 12 Championships to Texas (2009) and Oklahoma (2010). Last year, the Huskers were humiliated on the road against Wisconsin and Michigan losing by a combined total of 59 points. The Huskers then were upset by Northwestern 28-25. If there is something the Huskers need to avoid, it is losing games they should easily win. Nebraska will be in the race again to win the Legends Division. The Huskers return 14 starters from last season. Jr. Quarterback Taylor Martinez returns for his third season and looks to improve as a passer. Martinez has established himself as a great runner, but when Nebraska cannot run the ball,  Martinez and the Huskers have struggled. The Huskers also return the heart and soul of the team Sr. Running back Rex Burkhead. Burkhead is a powerful and physical runner that rushed for 1,357 yards and scored a total of 17 touchdowns last season. The Huskers return seven starters and look to be the defense they were in 2009 and 2010. Huskers return Sr. Defensive End Cameron Meredith, Sr. Defensive Tackle Baker Steinkuhler, and Sr. Middle Linebacker Will Compton. 1st year Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis will be tested in his first season in the Big Ten and looks to improve a defense that ranked 37th in the country last season giving up an average of 350.7 ypg. The Huskers will start this season 4-0, then be tested at home against Wisconsin on Sept. 29th and at Ohio State on Oct. 6th. The most important game for Nebraska this season will be when they host Michigan on Oct. 27th. This could decide who wins the Legends Division. The Huskers will also need to avoid upsets at Northwestern on Oct. 20th and at Michigan State on Nov. 3rd. The Huskers potentially will be looking for a BCS At-Large big if they cannot win the Big Ten Championship.  

3. Michigan State                     8-4                             If you want to talk to someone about bad luck, just ask Spartan Head Coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans have been the odd man out of the BCS two years in a row. In 2010, the Spartans were in a three way tie for the Big Ten Title with Wisconsin and Ohio State. Wisconsin won the tiebreaker and went to the Rose Bowl and Ohio State received an At-Large bid to the Sugar Bowl. Last season, the Spartans won the Legends Division and could not beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl and Michigan, who Michigan State defeated earlier in the season 28-14, received an At-Large bid to the Sugar Bowl. The Spartans return five on offense and eight on defense. Jr. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell will have big shoes to fill after the departure of current NFL Quarterback Kirk Cousins. Maxwell only threw 26 passes all season last year and will hopefully have the tools to run the offense. The Spartans lost their four top receivers last season, so the Spartans will need to rely on Jr. Running back Le'VEON Bell, who ran for 948 total yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The Spartan defense will be even better than they were last season. The defense includes three potential 1st team All-Big Ten players in Jr. Defensive End William Gholston, Jr. Safety Isaiah Lewis, and Sr. Cornerback Johnny Adams. The Spartans were relentless on defense last season ranking 10th nationally and only giving up an average of 18.4 ppg. They were also ranked 6th nationally and 1st in the Big Ten giving up an average of 277.4 ypg. The Spartans will once again be in the hunt for a BCS bid. Michigan State begins the season at home against Boise State in a Friday night showdown. Then on Sept. 15th the Spartans will be at home against Notre Dame. These games will show the nation if Michigan State is still an elite team or not. Michigan State's Big Ten fate will be determined in weeks eight through ten. The Spartans must travel to Michigan (Oct. 20) and to Wisconsin (Oct. 17) consecutive weeks, then host Nebraska on Nov. 3rd. Prior to these games, Notre Dame should be 3-1 at this point in the Big Ten, only losing to Ohio State. If the Spartans go 2-1 against Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska,  the Spartans could win the Legends Division.

4. Iowa                                     8-4                                Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes have struggled the last two seasons. The Hawkeyes are looking to improve as an overall team this season and give Hawkeye nation something to cheer about. Recently, the Hawkeyes have had a huge victory over a highly ranked team. For example, in 2010 the Hawkeyes upset #5 Michigan State 37-6 at home and last season upset #13 Michigan 24-16 at home. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes have lost games that they absolutely needed to win. Two years in a row Iowa lost to Minnesota, who has only won six total games in the last two seasons. The Hawkeyes have 11 returning starters from last season. This is going to need to be a breakout year for Sr. Quarterback James Vandenberg, who is possibly is the best pocket passer in the Big Ten. Vandenberg lost top Wide Receiver Marvin McNutt, but will have Senior Wide Receiver Keenan Davis as his main target. Davis will need to be a threat in the Hawkeye offense, because there will not be much depth at the running back position. Last season, The Hawkeyes were last in the Big Ten in rushing with only 137.7 ypg. With the Hawkeyes having questions with the running game, this could bring more action to Jr. Tight End C.J. Fiedorowicz. Iowa's defense will be a mystery this season as well. Sr. Cornerback Micah Hyde will look to be a leader on defense, along with Jr. Linebackers Christian Kirksey and James Morris. The Hawkeyes should be 5-0 when they travel to Michigan State on Oct. 13th, unless they slip up against Iowa State again.  The Hawkeyes have a reasonable schedule as they do not have to face Wisconsin again this season. Iowa's toughest two weeks in a row occurs at the end of the season, where they must travel to Michigan on Nov. 17th and host Nebraska on Nov. 23rd. The Hawkeyes should be good enough to go 8-4 this season.

5. Northwestern                        7-5                                  The Fighting Fitzgeralds are again ready to pull off more than just one upset this season with only ten returning starters. The Wildcats went 6-7 last season, but were still 1st in passing and 2nd in total ypg in the Big Ten. The Wildcats return Jr. Quarterback Kain Colter who will take complete control of the offense this season. Colter came in during the second half of the game in Lincoln last season and stunned the Huskers 28-25. The offense happens to lose its top wide receivers and starting running back. The leading rusher for the Wildcats last season was Quarterback Kain Colter who rushed for nine touchdowns, and will look to be a dual threat player once again. As good as the Wildcat's offense was last season, the Wildcat defense ranked no better than 10th in defending the pass or run in the Big Ten. The Wildcat defense gave up an average of 27.7 ppg last season. The Wildcats schedule this season is very favorable because they avoid playing Ohio State and Wisconsin. Northwestern can start out 5-0 over mediocre non-conference opponents and Indiana. Northwestern will play a must win game at Penn State on Oct. 6th. Northwestern has not defeated Penn State since 2004. Northwestern will then visit Minnesota and have a chance to be 7-0. After Minnesota though, Northwestern will need to be at the top of their game. The Wildcats host Nebraska (Oct. 20) and Iowa (Oct. 27), then the Wildcats must travel to Michigan (Nov. 10) and Michigan State (Nov.17). The Wildcats have a legitimate shot to make it to nine wins this season.

6. Minnesota                             4-8                                   The Golden Gophers will be in for another tough season. Head Coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure last year in his second game against New Mexico State. The Golden Gophers were awful on offense and defense. The only good thing about the Golden Gophers this year will be watching Sr. Quarterback MarQueis Gray rack up passing and rushing yards. Gray led the team in rushing last season with 966 total yards and 6 touchdowns. The Golden Gophers will need to win their first four games against non-conference foes UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, and Syracuse. After hopefully going 4-0, the Golden Gophers will maybe be able to squeak out one Big Ten win against Iowa, Purdue, or Michigan State. The Gophers beat Iowa the last two years and played Michigan State tough last season.

Big Ten Championship Match-up: Wisconsin vs Michigan

Top Ten (Big Ten)
1. Best game of the season: Oct. 27-Michigan @ Nebraska
2. Most Valuable to his team: Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines
3. Most surprising team: Northwestern Wildcats
4. Biggest potential upset: Nov. 3rd Illinois over Ohio State in Columbus, OH
5. Best Head Coach: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
6. Biggest disappointment: Illinois's Offense
7. Best Defensive player: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
8. Best Running back: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
9. Breakout player: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
10. Toughest environment to play in: Ohio Stadium, Ohio State

No comments:

Post a Comment