RudeBlog
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It's that time of year again. The weather is cooling off, the smell of barbecues are in the air, and the sounds of football pads smashing together are filling the air. It's college football season.

 

First, a quick introduction of myself. I'm a junior at Indiana University and am a big sports fan, through and through. I'm a journalism major and try to write about sports as much as possible. I asked Grue about a week ago if he would be continuing this blog series. He said worked wouldn't allow him the freedom, then graciously let me continue the blogs. Therefore, I have some huge shoes to fill.

 

The Big Ten has quickly become one of the most intriguing conferences with the addition of Nebraska and the creation of the two divisions (although, nothing about those divisions makes sense). If you've memorized the members of the divisions, more power to ya. But for those of us who haven't, here's how they look this year

 

LEGENDS
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern

 

LEADERS
Illinois
Indiana
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin

 

Despite the lunacy involved in splitting these divisions, there are some intriguing matchups in both divisions. In the Legends, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all could be ranked by the end of the year. Having Michigan-Michigan State in the same divisions gives you a big rivalry game, also.

 

Iowa is flying under the radar, in my opinion. Despite losing Ricky Stanzi, they return some key weapons, including running back Marcus Coker. Defensively, they return possibly the best defensive back in the Big Ten in Micah Hyde. And when you look at their schedule, they travel to PSU to start the Big Ten season, then get Northwestern and IU at home, at Minnesota, home against Michigan and Michigan State, at Purdue, and at Nebraska. That sets up possibly the division title on the line in the season finale, which would be the Big Ten's dream scenario.

 

The Big Ten is going to get their wish come week 13 as Nebraska and Iowa are going to battle for the division title at noon on ABC at Nebraska.

 

As for the rest of the Legends division, you certainly can't count out Michigan. If Denard Robison is utilized the right way, we saw what he could do last year. In fact, I watched first hand as he torched IU for for 277 yards and 3 passing TDs and 217 rush yards and 2 TDs. Don't count them out.

 

Michigan State is another overlooked team in the Big Ten. They come in ranked 17th, but have a gauntlet of a schedule. They go to Notre Dame, to Ohio State, then host Wisconsin and go to Nebraska in back to back weeks. I don't see MSU making it through those 4 games with more than 2 wins.

 

In the end, however, this is Nebraska's division to lose. They don't have a hard schedule, an away game at Wisconsin being the only tough game. They return Taylor Martinez, who COULD become a dark-horse for the Heisman this year. I think they'll run through this division without much resistance and come away with a division title in their first season.

 

The Leaders division is just as interesting as the Legends division. Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin all could win the division. As much as I love my Hoosiers, I don't think they'll be in title contention, although Kevin Wilson seems like the real deal.

 

Personally, I'm not sold on Ohio State. There's so much scrutiny and turmoil and change going on in Columbus so quickly that I think this year is a lost year. They won't be winning the division this year, but they'll be in the headlines, no doubt.

 

Penn State comes in as the Iowa of the Leaders division. If they can find someone at the QB position who can manage the game, they have a great defense that can keep them in games. The only downside of the team is that the schedule. They host #2 Bama in week 2, meaning they have to get things sorted out quickly. Then they end the year vs. Nebraska, at Ohio State, and finish at Wisconsin. Hypothetically speaking, the Wisconsin game could be for the division, but don't hold your breath.

 

That leaves Wisconsin. Led by a two-headed running game of Montee Ball and James White, both 900+ yard rushers last year, the Badgers, like always, are going to run the ball down your throats. Their toughest games are home against Nebraska, then away at both Michigan State and Ohio State, both of which could become small games by the time they're played. Much like Nebraska, I think this is Wisconsin's to lose. With the implosion in Columbus right now, the only formidable opponent is Penn State, and they aren't that formidable.

 

Here's how I think the two divisions will break down with rough predictions on records

 

Legends
Nebraska 12-0 (8-0)
Iowa 11-1 (7-1)
Michigan State 9-3 (6-2)
Northwestern 9-3 (5-3)
Michigan 7-5 (4-4)
Minnesota 4-8 (1-7)

 

Leaders
Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
Ohio State 9-3 (5-3)
Penn State 8-4 (5-3)
Illinois 7-5 (4-4)
Purdue 7-5 (3-5)
Indiana 4-8 (1-7)

 

Big Ten Title Game

 

Nebraska defeats Wisconsin - 21-13

 

Players to Watch

 

QB Taylor Martinez - Nebraska - If his head is screwed on straight and he plays well, like I said, he could be a darkhorse for the Heisman. But those are some big if's

 

RB Edwin Baker, MSU - He's vowed to rush for 2000 yards. If he does so, against the level of competition he'll face, he'll be a big time Heisman candidate.

 

QB Denard Robinson, UM - This is a no-brainer, but there might not be a more exciting player in the nation than Robinson. He faded last year, but look for him to start off red-hot in non-conference play.

 

WR DeMarlo Belcher, IU - The one thing IU does have is great WRs, and the best is Belcher. At 6'5, 213 pounds, he may be one of the most underrated receivers in the nation.

 

Here's to a (hopefully) great season of Big Ten football on the way.
August 26, 2011  10:22 AM ET

Watch ShoeString get injured for meeeechgan again.

August 26, 2011  10:23 AM ET

Nice blog Rude.

August 26, 2011  10:29 AM ET

Good work, well written - being a SECer I can't say I see anything I'd argue with, but what do I know about B1G stuff?

One question, though, who does IU have throwing to Mr Belcher? I know the future is the Gunner kid, but who is it now?

August 26, 2011  10:33 AM ET

I'm surprised you're this high on Iowa given how much they lost from last year's team. All in all they're reasonable predictions, though... good work so far in taking over the format!

August 26, 2011  10:35 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Good work, well written - being a SECer I can't say I see anything I'd argue with, but what do I know about B1G stuff? One question, though, who does IU have throwing to Mr Belcher? I know the future is the Gunner kid, but who is it now?

Either Gunner's older brother, Dusty Kiel, or fellow sophomore Edward Wright-Baker...

August 26, 2011  10:36 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Watch ShoeString get injured for meeeechgan again.

And Martinez in Lincoln...

August 26, 2011  10:54 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Good work, well written - being a SECer I can't say I see anything I'd argue with, but what do I know about B1G stuff? One question, though, who does IU have throwing to Mr Belcher? I know the future is the Gunner kid, but who is it now?

It's a 3-guy race. There's either Gunner's older brother Dusty, Edward Wright-Baker, or Tre Robison. Dusty is your tyipcal pocket passer, EWB is a lefty running QB, and Robison is a mixture of both. As far as I've heard, Robison is actually the leader right now based on practices. But none of them are that good, which will be anywhere near Chappell's production.

August 26, 2011  11:03 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

And Martinez in Lincoln...

Maybe, ya never know. I have not seen Martinez play but just the simple fact that Shoe Sting has yet to make it through an entire season healthy is the reason it could happen again. And if meeeechegan doesn't have a ground game then that will force Shoe Sting to run more. Opening up the possibilty for injuries.

Comment #9 has been removed
Comment #10 has been removed
August 26, 2011  11:07 AM ET

Good blog. I don't think Nebraska is that good. Martinez is a head case and the Starling drama was a distraction during preseason camp

Comment #12 has been removed
August 26, 2011  11:51 AM ET

Rude, great blog. I am not sold on Nebraska like everyone else is. Nebraska is a good, solid team, but I don't see them walking through the B1G undefeated.

I also don't see Iowa winning that side, either. It seems they trip up every year. I think MSU has a decent shot, but their schedule is gonna be tough.

The other side, the winner will be decided in C-bus in the Wisky v. tOSU game.

August 26, 2011  12:42 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

It's a 3-guy race. There's either Gunner's older brother Dusty, Edward Wright-Baker, or Tre Robison. Dusty is your tyipcal pocket passer, EWB is a lefty running QB, and Robison is a mixture of both. As far as I've heard, Robison is actually the leader right now based on practices. But none of them are that good, which will be anywhere near Chappell's production.

They have decent protection, and some other receiving threat to keep D-coords from doubling up on Belcher?

August 26, 2011  12:43 PM ET

[grumble, grumble] OK, you midwesterners ought to know the history of your conference. it was originally known as the "Western Conference." After Iowa and Indiana joined in 1899, it was called the "Big Nine." Original member, TSUN left in a tiff during 1908, then returned 9 years later. The name, "Big Ten" was used informally, first in 1917, but the membership dropped back to 9 after original member, University of Chicago dropped out in 1946, de-emphasizing athletics (They'd dropped football in 1939, so, there were only nine members playing football for seven years.). "Big Nine" was back in the common lexicon until MSU joined in 1949.

From '49 on, the term, "Big Ten" was an unofficial moniker. It wasn't formalized until 1987, when the Big Ten incorporated as a non-profit organization. The truth of their name didn't last very long, as the conference invited Penn State to join in 1990. Despite a membership of all AAU schools, the belligerent jackinapes in charge refused to change the name from "Big Ten." Fans of truth and college football began to refer to the conference as the "Obese Eleven."

Then, having turned away Nebraska twice (1900 and 1911), the jackinapes in charge invited Their Nebs to join the conference, increasing the number of member institutions to 12. At this pivotal moment, the jackinapes could've done the right thing and changed the name of the conference in a fashion that would preserve whatever brand capital they felt they had in their BTN network, but, they rejected the "Big Tough" conference name and continue on as before.

To add injury to their absurd insult to the intelligence of all alumni, students, and supporters, the jackinapes-that-be chose "Leaders" and "Legends" as division names, then unveiled the most uninspiring logo in history. Those of us who circulate in polite society refer to the conference as the "Adipose Twelve" or "Bee-One-Gee." Others.... well.

I feel great sympathy for my friends with ties to conference schools. To hail from such great institutions of learning and be burdened with the inanity heaped upon them and you by oaken-brained conference leadership is shameful. Having a cousin married to a "Toss U" music prof, I share in part this shame.

August 26, 2011  12:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

Having a cousin married to a "Toss U" music prof, I share in part this shame.

Also, my brother earned his "phud" in music from Wisconsin. My father-in-law received two degrees from MSU. I am trippley burned by Damn-laney and the wretched rest of the conference leadership.

August 26, 2011  12:49 PM ET

Oh, yeah, you do write well, Rude. Scribble on.

August 26, 2011  12:49 PM ET

Blog quad (It's like dog barf, only it doesn't smell).

August 26, 2011  12:49 PM ET
QUOTE(#14):

They have decent protection, and some other receiving threat to keep D-coords from doubling up on Belcher?

They have 3 returning lineman, so kinda. And they are stacked at WR. Always are. I really think he could have a huge year

 
August 26, 2011  01:19 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Blog quad (It's like dog barf, only not as interesting).

Fixed it for me.


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