With the 2012 college football season kicking off Thursday, it’s time to offer my quick predictions. Where will each team finish in the Big Ten standings? I offer my best guesses. Who are some likely breakout players? I mention a few candidates. And who will hoist the hardware at the second annual Big Ten title game? I see history repeating itself. See all my predictions in this post.
Michigan State 10-2, 6-2
Michigan 9-3, 6-2
Nebraska 9-3, 5-3
Iowa 7-5, 3-5
Northwestern 7-5, 3-5
Minnesota 5-7, 2-6
Champ: Michigan State
Best Offensive Player: Denard Robinson, Michigan
Best Defensive Player: William Gholston, Michigan State
Breakout Offensive Player: Kenny Bell, Nebraska & Kain Colter, Northwestern
Breakout Defensive Player: Nico Law, Iowa
Team to watch: Nebraska – The schedule is grueling, to say the least, but the Huskers won’t have any surprises coming their way in Year 2 in the Big Ten. This team is rumored to be more physical and it boasts a pretty solid offense.
Biggest question: Who will survive this competitive division? Will it be one of the favorites (Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska) or a dark horse (Iowa)?
Wisconsin 10-2, 6-2
Ohio State 9-3, 5-3
Purdue 7-5, 4-4
Illinois 7-5, 4-4
Penn State 6-6, 3-5
Indiana 4-8, 1-7
Best Offensive Player: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Best Defensive Player: Kawann Short, Purdue
Breakout Offensive Player: Stephen Houston, Indiana
Breakout Defensive Player: Ryan Russell, Purdue
Team to watch: Purdue – The Boilermakers return plenty of talent, particularly on defense where Short and Ricardo Allen lead the way, plus they have a manageable schedule that includes last season’s two worst teams (Indiana and Minnesota) and home dates against the two toughest opponents (Michigan and Wisconsin).
Biggest question: Can anyone challenge two-time reigning Big Ten champ Wisconsin? Ohio State and Penn State are out of the running due to NCAA sanctions, and the rest of the division went a combined 6-18 in Big Ten play last season.
[BTN.com: Preseason Big Ten player rankings]
Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin over Michigan State
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Nagurksi-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Kawann Short, Purdue
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Most Improved Player: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
And to pass the time before Thursday’s Minnesota-UNLV opener, I present to you this pump-up video: