Conference Primers

nmb10CON

The granddaddy of conferences finds itself split in perceptions.  First, the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes return ranked unanimous number one in the first AP poll.   That gives quite a boost to the Big Ten, who hadn’t had a national champion since the Buckeyes did it last in 2002.

And therein lies the central issue with the Big Ten.  Because, second, even with big names like Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State, each historically successful programs, the Big Ten hasn’t had anyone even sniff playing for championships except the Buckeyes.   They are like the ACC, but with bigger names.   In the initial AP poll, only three out of fourteen teams were ranked in the top 25.  In the last College Football Playoff poll they had four out of fourteen finish the season ranked.

By any measure, a conference the size of the Big Ten should be able to have more than three or four teams ranked.   However, that is where they have found themselves for multiple years now.  The question becomes, who picks up the banner for the B1G once Ohio State isn’t in the naitonal title hunt?

 

nmb10east

The east is the marque division for the Big Ten and where all the power is currently located.   Not only are their two teams currently in the top ten, but four teams who ended their season with a win.
Michigan_StMichigan State

This stat always amazes me 603 yards passing and -20 yards rushing.   That proved how Michigan State’s defense made Baylor’s offense one dimensional in the Cotton Bowl last year.  Having Oregon and Ohio State on the schedule helps, but with only nine Power Five games, most of them being lack luster, Sparty could end up outside the playoffs with a loss.

Projected Overall: 11-1

Projected Division: 7-1

 

Ohio StatOhio_Ste

The hardest thing to do in all of sports is repeat as a national champion.  However, it is even harder to do it when you have a soft schedule.  Out of 12 games, only Michigan State is a ranked foe on the Buckeye’s schedule.   Last year’s team was held together with luck and a prayer, winning it all with a third string quarterback.   It isn’t often it gives you back to back blessings.

Projected Overall: 11-1

Projected Division: 7-1

 

Michigan

Michigan

Even with the Harbaugh bump the talent level between the top two teams and the rest of the back is considerably different.  However, the Wolverines have scheduled like champs, with 11 Power Five teams on the docket.  Win those non-cons and things could get interesting as they have both Michigan State and Ohio State at home.

Projected Overall: 8-4

Projected Division: 5-3

 

Penn_StPenn State

It almost feels dirty to write, but the reason for Penn State’s position is less about their talent and more about the incredibly soft schedule they have this year.   Unlike others in the east, they face none of the top talent in the west and their non-con is a joke.

Projected Overall: 7-5

Projected Division: 3-5

 

Maryland_EMaryland

They are going to start the season 3-3, then your guess is as good as mine where the Terps finish the second half.  Probably just enough to be bowl eligible so the conference can brag about how many mediocre teams it has.

Projected Overall: 6-6

Projected Division: 3-5

 

Rutgers_HRutgers

The good news is Rutgers plays the two worst Power Five teams in the Big 12 and Pac 12 in Kansas and Washington State.   The bad news is they drew both Wisconsin and Nebraska in the cross over.

Projected Overall: 6-6

Projected Division: 2-6

 

Indiana_GIndiana

I had to read it twice, but Indiana starts the season against SIU then FIU, how often does that happen?!  Then, to make sure the schedule gets more difficult, they play Western Kentucky and Wake Forest.

Projected Overall: 5-7

Projected Division: 1-7

 

nmb10west

Watch someone rise out of the west to win the entire shebang this year, because, at first glance, this looks like the schedule you’d make as a natural sedative.   Golf is more exciting than most of these match ups.

 

WisconsinWisconsin

Their belly flop in the conference championship (which I still believe was dictated) notwithstanding, Wisconsin has what it takes to win some big games.   And, by what it takes I mean giant offensive linemen and smash mouth running backs.  They get a shot to really give the Big Ten a much needed power boost by beating the Crimson Tide on Saturday in Jerry’s World.

Projected Overall: 11-1

Projected Division: 7-1

 

MinnesotaMinnesota

The rankings will surely change, but currently the Gophers play both the #1 Buckeyes and the #2 Horned Frogs.  It would be a serious shot in the arm for not only the Big Ten, but also Dinkytown if they started TCU’s season off with a loss.

Projected Overall: 9-3

Projected Division: 6-2

 


NebraskaNebraska

This is another one of those areas where having fourteen teams playing eight conference games makes for some strange bedfellows, because Nebraska is just ok, but the teams who may be better than them have rougher schedules.

Projected Overall: 8-4

Projected Division: 4-4

 

IoIowawa

The thing about the Iowa Hawkeyes is they are just good enough not to suck.   They are never really good enough to be good, nor really bad enough to be bad.   They’re like Anthony Michael Hall’s character in “The Breakfast Club.”  And look how that turned out for him.

Projected Overall: 7-5

Projected Division: 4-4

 

PurduePurdue

Nothing real special happening here, except really, really boring football.

Projected Overall: 6-6

Projected Division: 3-5

 

NorthwesternNorthWestern

Here’s how the end of the season PowerPoint should wrap up, “We beat Illinois!”

Projected Overall: 3-9

Projected Division: 1-7

 

Illinois_FIllinois

This is just the strangest of stories for a university that has everything it needs to dominate college football, but continues to find a way to throw that advantage away.

Projected Overall: 3-9

Projected Division: 0-8

NMB10PA

Overrated: Ohio_St

Underrated: Minnesota

Prediction:   Wisconsin wins the conference championship game to throw the Playoff committee into a tizzy.

 

To read the rest of the Power Five primers click here.

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