Dienhart reacts to 2014 football preview mags

I finally have had a chance to closely check out my three favorite college football preview mags: Athlon, Lindy’s and Sporting News. It’s fun to compare and contrast the predicted order of finish in the various publications. After considering the three publications’ picks, I decided to offer some reactions.

Here goes:

  • Ohio State is the consensus pick to win the East. But, I gotta tell ya, I’m liking Michigan State. Yes, the Buckeyes have lots of talent, but the jury remains out on a defense that struggled last season in ranking No. 7 overall and No. 11 vs. the pass in the Big Ten. The Spartans have fewer questions on defense, have as much talent returning on offense as the Buckeyes and play OSU in East Lansing. Bottom line: It’s gonna be a fun race in the East.
  • I am a bit surprised that Wisconsin is picked to win the West by two of the three magazines. Yes, the Badgers have been the best program in recent seasons among the schools in the new Big Ten West. Talent remains and the coaching is good. But I think the attrition that Wisconsin has suffered on defense will prove to be too much, even though the Badgers play one of the most user-friendly schedules in the Big Ten. For the record, Wisconsin has no returning starters in its defensive front seven. Key losses included NT Beau Allen and LBs Chris Borland, Brendan Kelly and Ethan Armstrong. Couple that with an offense that lost its best receiver from what already was a pedestrian passing game, and my concerns seem legit.
  • What to make of Northwestern? The Wildcats were picked to finish fourth (Athlon), fifth (SN) and sixth (Lindy’s). NU is coming off a highly disappointing season, seeing a 4-0 start melt into a 5-7 finish. At one point, the Wildcats lost seven in a row in 2013. Lots of talent is back in Evanston. The key: line play, which wasn’t up to par last season. And can RB Venric Mark stay healthy?
  • No denying this is a big season for Brady Hoke and Michigan. Hoke has seen his win total drop in each of this three seasons—from 11 to 8 to 7. Last year’s 7-6 mark was a huge disappointment, as the Wolverines teased with a 5-0 start only to go 2-6 the rest of the season. And the two victories came vs. non-bowl teams in Indiana and Northwestern. The three mags I looked at have Michigan finishing third or fourth in the East. Will that satisfy fans? How the Wolverines do vs. Michigan State and Ohio State figures to be very important. Hoke is 1-2 vs. Ohio State and 1-2 vs. Michigan State. The Spartans have won five of the last six vs. the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have won 11 of the last 13 vs. Michigan.
  • The Big Ten West could be a fun race. It figures to come down to Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Sporting News picked the Cornhuskers, while Athlon and Lindy’s tabbed the Badgers. The team I like, Iowa, is picked as low as fourth by Sporting News. Athlon has the Hawkeyes second, while Lindy’s has them third. I really like this Iowa team, which has a great combination of personnel and schedule. Can Iowa avoid the one pratfall that seemingly befuddles it on an annual basis?
  • Two teams that I think could surprise are Maryland and Indiana. No, neither figures to win the uber-tough Big Ten East. But each squad has a nice collection of talent and will have an impact on the division race. And I wouldn’t be shocked if both the Terps and Hoosiers make the postseason. Don’t sleep on Maryland and Indiana.
  • It’s official: Rutgers and Purdue are supposed to bring up the rear in their respective divisions. It’s just too bad these teams don’t play in 2014. Who will finish with more wins?
  • Minnesota is a team on the rise as it enters Year Four of the Jerry Kill era. Sporting News loves the Golden Gophers, tabbing them third in the West. I could see that, especially if the defense continues to shine and the offense can develop a passing game. I was shocked to see Athlon have Minnesota tabbed fifth in the West. Really? No way the Gophers finish lower than fourth.

Here’s a rundown of the orders of finish:


1. Ohio State
2. Michigan State
3. Penn State
4. Michigan
5. Maryland
6. Indiana
7. Rutgers

1. Wisconsin
2. Iowa
3. Nebraska
4. Northwestern
5. Minnesota
6. Illinois
7. Purdue


1.Ohio State
2. Michigan State
3. Michigan
4. Penn State
5. Maryland
6. Indiana
7. Rutgers

2. Nebraska
3. Iowa
4. Minnesota
5. Illinois
6. Northwestern
7. Purdue


1. Ohio State
2. Michigan State
3. Michigan
4, Penn State
5. Indiana
6. Maryland
7. Rutgers

1. Nebraska
2. Wisconsin
3. Minnesota
4. Iowa
5. Northwestern
6. Illinois
7. Purdue

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Show Comments (13 Comments)
13 Post Your Comment
Doug on 7/14/2014 @ 4:16pm EDT Said:

Let the Brady Hoke farewell tour begin ! Bring back Rich Rod !

Big Ten Fan on 7/14/2014 @ 5:01pm EDT Said:

well, over the years my predictions have been far better than any the Big Ten media has produced. I am not always right but better than than most.


1. Michigan State
2. Penn State
3. Ohio State
4. Maryland
5. Indiana
6. Michigan
7. Rutgers


1. Iowa
2. Wisconsin
3. Minnesota
4. Nebraska
5. Northwestern
6. Illinois
7. Purdue

Michigan State will play Penn State for the East Division title (and Big Ten title).

Ohio State will finish 8 and 4 and Michigan will finish with an inverted 4 and 8.

Michigan State will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl and the first college playoff while 10 and 2 Penn State will play in either the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl. Iowa, at 10 and 3 heads to either the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl.

Rationality on 7/14/2014 @ 5:32pm EDT Said:

@Big Ten Fan — thanks for the laugh. Let me guess, you frequent BWI?

wilkins0802 on 7/14/2014 @ 6:39pm EDT Said:

Ohio State 8-4?? That’s the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read, oh and Penn State still can’t play for a B1G title, sorry

hadley smith on 7/14/2014 @ 6:59pm EDT Said:

@BigTenFan—you’ve got me confused. Who plays in the B1G champ. game? The way you have it, it looks like you got msu playin p st for it, and that cant happen since their both in the same div. And you got o st goin 8-4? Your crazy!! Im saving this post to see at the end of the yr how accurate you are..i’m afraid your streak is about to end..

Big Ten Fan on 7/14/2014 @ 7:51pm EDT Said:

I’ll talk to you in November

motownwalt on 7/14/2014 @ 11:03pm EDT Said:

These same geniuses picked OSU and U-M to win everything last season, As a Spartan, I am very comfortable with where we are going into 2014. Go Green!

Joshua Palmer on 7/15/2014 @ 2:31am EDT Said:

I seriously cannot wait to get this season going. Michigan is going to bounce back in a huge way. Devin Gardner will place in the top 3 in the Heisman voting, Funchess will win the Biletnikoff award, Peppers will be Peppers and show everybody why he is as hyped as he is, Derrick Green will be one of the top RB’s in the conference, if not the nation and our Defense will dominate. yeah, go ahead with all your replies about what we looked like last year and all the years since 2008, but this is Michigan, do you all honestly think we are gonna stay down much longer??? I get it, you’re fans of our rival’s school, but you know deep down we are a sleeping giant that is about to wake up and ruin a lot of hopes and dreams. So Sparty, congrats on your past couple of years of success against us (it’s about time) and Ohio, you all know as much as I do that our rivalry goes in streaks (with the exception of the 10 year war when it went back and forth) so prepare for our streak to get started, its coming a lot sooner than later. GO BLUE!

Big Ten Fan on 7/15/2014 @ 7:53am EDT Said:

hadley smith,

I worded the post poorly. I was inferring that the winner of the East Division is going to win the Big Ten title not that Penn State will play Michigan State in the title game.

And yes, I think OSU is in for a big drop. On paper, they certainly don’t look like a top five or even top 25 team. Losing the only four players from the back seven on defense that showed anything last year is problematic. To make matters worse, the youngsters and backups showed limited potential. Put that together with a frequently undisciplined and undersized front with its own issues (loss of two key backups and a three game suspension for Spence) and the loss of four starters on the O-line and next to no potential for improving any of them and you have a recipe for an 0 and 2 start with Navy and Virginia Tech on deck. How bad is OSU’s O-line situation? They are probably going to vie with Michigan for the worst in the Big Ten. I have heard people say Penn State’s depth situation is bad, Ohio State’s is worse, far worse and the talent on hand isn’t as good as it is in Happy Valley.

Gurndogg on 7/15/2014 @ 12:13pm EDT Said:

To BIG ten fan you couldn’t be more wrong 1st the scheme is what help OSU’s D back & I ate (not) to tell you there is plenty of talent back in the secondary not only so much that your Peppers won’t even start here as well as our guy just as good Webb. Next there is noe way that PSU can go to a bowl that shows that you don’t know what you are talking bout their still on probation that shows intelligent Football knowledge. There is also no way OSU loses 4 games it will be crazy if they lose more than 2 only team I see right now that can beat them is MSU & thats still a BIG if plus I see UM better this year as well but they normally lose road games & I don’t see that changing this year but I do see them winning probably 9 games this year so thats a climb up some (good luck) but I doubt you ahve ever been right as much as you have said because of your PSU lack of knowledge.
By the way! GO BUCK’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH—————–

Doug on 7/15/2014 @ 2:48pm EDT Said:

Joshua, it’s cool to be excited about your team, but it’s still the same mediocre team with the same mediocre coach. Funchess and Garnder are overrated every year for doing nothing, Peppers hasn’t played a down and now that he’s up against stellar competition, he won’t dominate like he did in high school, keep up the faith, Michigan is staying down, and they will be down for a long time, Green rules the state now !

Mary Brennan on 7/15/2014 @ 7:01pm EDT Said:

Isn’t Penn State still banned from post-season bowl games? How does anyone think they would be a choice for the Fiesta Bowl??

JHThree on 7/16/2014 @ 3:56pm EDT Said:

Mary – there is some expectation – or hope – that the Penn State bowl ban will be dropped the next time George Mitchell reports on his review of Penn State to the NCAA. Last summer’s review resulted in a reduction of the recruiting limitations on Penn State, and Mitchell indicated at the time that further reductions of the sanctions could occur if Penn State continued on the track it was on last summer.
So many of us in Nittany Nation are hoping to be bowl-eligible and eligible for the Big Ten title game this season, fwiw.

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