We now find ourselves in the Big 10. This league was incredibly top-heavy last year, and will remain so in 2017 as there are 4 teams who could potentially finish in the top 15, and two that have a really good shot at the playoff.
- Ohio State – they have the second best coach in America, possibly the most talented roster, and hired a great offensive mind to fix their issues from last season. If Kevin Wilson can fix JT Barrett and their average passing O, look out. We will find out in week 2 as they host Oklahoma. The schedule also includes trips to Penn State, while hosting Michigan
- Penn State – Probably the best offense in the Big 10. This team will be tough to outscore. Back to back games against Michigan and Ohio State will be incredibly tough. I look forward to watching Barkley run all over every team they play.
- Michigan – Probably a year away. They lost a lot of talent from last year’s squad. An opener against Florida will tell us a ton about what is left in Ann Arbor. Will likely be better than their final record due to the tough schedule.
- Michigan State – Will the real Michigan State please stand up? A year after winning the conference and going to the playoff, they really bottomed out in 2016. I expect a rebound from a Mark Dantonio coached team, but the talent of the teams above them is just too much to overcome.
- Indiana – Kevin Wilson had improved this roster before his untimely dismissal. Former DC Tom Allen takes over as a first time head coach. It’s a tough order playing in the Big 10 East.
- Maryland – I think DJ Durkin has already improved the talent in College Park. I think they will give Texas a game to open the season. I just think based on their division, 4th place is basically their ceiling.
- Rutgers – Was the supposed NY City TV market really worth it? I hope so, because Rutgers does not have the talent, or facilities to compete at this level.
- Wisconsin – the most perennially under-ranked team in NCAA football. They don’t recruit with the best in the country, but they recruit to their system well, and develop as well as anyone. They have a real chance at an undefeated regular season, as they avoid both Ohio State and Penn State.
- Northwestern – Pat Fitzgerald continues to win and compete in the division just about every year. RB Justin Jackson is as good a player as they’ve had, and avoiding 2 of the big 3 from the East could pay off.
- Minnesota – I am really excited to see what PJ Fleck does here. There is some talent here (for a middle of the pack team), and avoiding both Penn State and Ohio State, plus a soft out of conference schedule could lead to a 9 win season.
- Nebraska – I don’t know what to make of this squad. Mike Riley can coach, and they beat every team they should beat. However, when they play a good team, they lose, and lose by a lot. Cross-Conference games against Penn State and Ohio State make their schedule tougher than most.
- Iowa – They are led by talented RB Akrum Wadley, but who will be handing the ball to him remains the big question. Iowa is likely solid, yet unspectacular, but gets both Ohio State and Penn State.
- Illinois – There is very little talent on this roster. The most intriguing storyline to watch here is how Lovie Smith makes the transition to college from the NFL. Lovie has never been a college head coach before, and how quickly he adjusts will determine how quickly Illinois rebuilds.
- Purdue – Where have you gone Drew Brees and Kyle Orton? The bottom feeders of the West, Purdue is in for a long season.
Big 10 Championship
In a closely contested game, I have Ohio State outlasting Wisconsin and heading to the CFB Playoffs for a third time.