#4 The Big 10
The Big 10 will be feeling the bite of moving to a 9 game conference schedule. They’re going to see their middle of the pack teams have fewer wins, and they’ll be glad for the Nebraska rule as they’ll need to put teams with 5 wins in bowls to keep their bowl appearances up.
- Michigan State University – Spartans – 12-0 / 9-0: Man the Spartans get no respect. They’ve won this league 2 years in a row, and everyone is picking everyone but them. They won 12 games last year, and will do so again this year. They return 10 starters, and have the schedule working for them. Their road schedule is Notre Dame, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, and Penn State. They’re better than Notre Dame and Penn State so hello CCG.
- University of Michigan – Wolverines – 10-2 / 7-2: Michigan may be the more talented team, but they have to travel to East Lansing and Iowa City. I guess the big question is will this be enough to keep Harbaugh off the hot seat?
- The Ohio State University – Buckeyes – 7-5 / 5-4: Ohio State will field a very good young team, but they really don’t have the schedule to have a great season. With trips to Norman, Madison, State College, and East Lansing you just can’t expect a championship run from this team. Now next year, when they get those schools at home?
- Rutgers University – Scarlet Knights – 5-7 / 4-5: They’ll be about as happy on the Banks of the Old Rar-i-tan as they can be this year. Getting the gift of Illinois, Indiana, and Penn State at home, combined with Maryland on the road will allow them to reach this level of mediocrity. Although last year this team would have been able to probably get to 6-6 instead of making 5 B1G road trips.
- Indiana University – Hoosiers – 6-6 / 4-5: The Hoosiers should find themselves in the rare position of making back to back bowls. If they can find a way to win their opening game on the road against FIU they could wind up with a winning record.
- Pennsylvania State University – Nittany Lions – 6-6 / 4-5: Penn State has enough talent to be dangerous at home, but could struggle on the road. Late season trips to Bloomington and New Brunswick will prove the difference between what would be a step forward, and a disappointing season.
- University of Maryland – Terrapins – 1-11 / 0-9: There is no need to fear these turtles. The cupboard is not only bare its in disarray. Getting Howard at home to open the season will save them from a winless campaign.
- University of Iowa – Hawkeyes – 12-0 / 9-0: This Hawkeye team will be better than last years, and is playing in a weaker division. I see this team beating the Spartans, and making the playoffs. They’re not a glamour pick as they don’t meet Herbies eye test magic, but this team is a true contender for the MNC.
- Northwestern University – Wildcats – 9-3 / 6-3: The Wildcats return 12 starters from a very good team last year, and have a schedule to help them match last year’s results. The teams they’d have trouble with they get on the road, and the toss ups they get at home.
- University of Wisconsin – Badgers – 7-5 / 5-4: The Badgers should have a few highlights this year as they should beat Ohio State and Nebraska at home, but back to back trips to Michigan and Michigan State, and to Iowa and Northwestern should provide some lows.
- Nebraska University – Bugeaters – 6-6 / 4-5: Year 2 of the Mike Riley years should at least allow NU to make a bowl without an NCAA assist. Thankfully they get Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota at home, plus the gift that is Maryland to keep them from logging two losing seasons in a row. The only cliff hanger this year will be which game ends the sellout string.
- University of Minnesota – Golden Gophers – 6-6 / 3-6: The Gophers will be able to use an ooc slate of Oregon State, Indiana State, and Colorado State to gain bowl eligibility.
- University of Illinois – Fighting Illini – 3-9 / 2-7: It’ll be a long campaign for the Illini under new coach Lovie Smith. There’s just not enough talent to win more games here.
- Purdue University – Boilermakers – 2-10 / 1-8: Fans will need a lot of Boilermakers to watch this team. They get Eastern Kentucky and Maryland which will keep them from losing them all. Hopefully their next coach will figure out how to win in West Lafayette.