Ok, let's get right to it shall we? Sounds good to me too..so here we go...
1. Ohio State- The Buckeyes are the gold standard. The scary part is this team wasn't even supposed to reach the heights that they did a year ago. With basically the entire team back they should be good, very good. Todd Boeckman is a solid quarterback....they have many many weapons on offense. They should and probably are BCS bound.
2. Wisconsin- Putting the Badgers here can be seen as highly homerish..but I can also justify putting the Badgers here. In my opinion, the Badgers are just as talented as the Buckeyes when healthy. That, however, is the key. Can the Badgers stay healthy? Another key is finding a quality quarterback. Also getting good o-line play. My last big key for the Badgers is the undersized defense. Can our(Wisconsin's) defense hold up against the big physical offensive lines of the Big 10. Just remember 4 of our top 5 defensive linemen didn't play during the spring, but should be ready by the fall.
3. Penn State- This is probably JoeGrandPa's last real chance at making a big BCS run. I only put them here because their two toughest conference games are on the road(at Wisconsin and at Ohio State). Winning on the road in the Big 10 is tough, especially at the Horse Shoe and at the Camp. Anthony Morelli, Justin King and Dan Connor are three big names that are gone from this team. It's going to be tough to replace that. Penn State aka Linebacker U should be fine though.
4. Illinois- This is the absolute worst, in my opinion, that the Illini can finish this year without being considered a one hit wonder. A whole lot of pressure falls squarely on the shoulders on Juice Williams...plus Eddie McGhee is breathing down his neck at quarterback. The big question is who will they hand the ball off to..with Rasard Mendenhall going off to the NFL. Another big question is can Arrelious Benn become the playmaker they need him to be. On defense they just need to find ways to slow people down..they got exposed during the Rose Bowl.
5. Michigan State- Last year I saw a lot of progress being made with this team. I think this year we're going to see huge improvements with this team. They're not ready to challenge for a Big 10 title yet..but they will be soon. They're taking on a very physical attitude. Watchout for this team. Even without Devin Thomas they'll do good things.
6. Iowa- A young team..that is still pretty young. However, at the end of the year steps forward were being taken. I still think they're a year away from being talked about with any seriousness for competing at the top of the Big 10 standings. As this year goes along expect them to play better with each passing week.
7. Purdue- The university made a huge mistake....they named Joe Tiller's succesor(who is Wisconsin's offensive coordinator). They're basically saying we want Joe Tiller out of here..so I think this year's team is going to suffer for that. Tiller is a solid coach but it's going to be tough for him to motivate his team knowing that Purdue is trying to get out of there as soon as possible.
8. Indiana- They, just like Illinois, have a lot to prove this year. I hate saying this but I think last year's successes was entirely on emotion. It's going to be tough for this team to continue to play with that emotion. I'd love to see them higher up but I can't bring myself to do it. They'll be competitive but they'll lose some close games throughout the year.
9. Northwestern- Pat Fitzgerald is going to have to start showing some progress with this team. I think this is the year he starts to show it. Tyrell Sutton is a talented back...who is going to turn into a gamebreaker. This team could start to take off. It's tough for a privtate school like Northwestern to compete when they have such tough admissions standards. But, this team can compete and I think they're better then these last two teams.
10. Michigan- Rich Rodriguez is going to have a tough job ahead of him. In order for the spread option offense to take off you need to have a quarterback to run the offense..which they don't have right now. So, at least for this year Michigan is going to have take their lumps. Next year though watchout for this team.
11. Minnesota- Tim Brewster, he's got a huge mountain to climb. This is a young team...and they'll struggle mightily this year. I'd like to move this team up but last years struggles are going to carry over this year. They need the defense to show up and play well..can they? This team needs time to develop and grow up. This team needs a complete makeover from the Glen Mason era. The times that I saw Minnesota play a year ago they're completely changing offensive philosophies which is going to at least take another year to implement.
These are my extraordinarily early Big 10 thoughts heading into this fall. Am I right? Am I wrong? Tell me what you think of my predictions. Thanks for reading.