Like sacks? You’re in luck in 2014, because the Big Ten boasts a boatload of talented pass-rushers. Here’s what’s back: Randy Gregory, last season’s leader (10.5), plus five of the next six 2013 leaders. Who will lead the Big Ten in sacks in 2014? Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
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- Countdown to kickoff: West top tradition?
2013 leader: Randy Gregory, Nebraska – 10.5
2014 returning leader: Randy Gregory, Nebraska – 10.5
Tom Dienhart: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The guy arrived amid a ton of hype in 2013. And he delivered. Bosa debuted in Columbus with 7.5 sacks. Playing opposite Noah Spence, Bosa figures to get his share of single blocking. And he’ll make opponents pay.
Sean Merriman: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska. Sure, this is probably the easy pick, and believe me, I love to go outside-the-box when I can back it up, but it’s impossible for me not to go with Gregory. This is a guy who racked up 10.5 sacks last season, which was 2.5 more than the next guy in line (Noah Spence). The Big Ten is loaded with talented pass rushers, but Gregory has a knack for getting to quarterbacks. Also, if you look at the new divisions, Nebraska is paired in the West with Illinois and Northwestern, two schools that graduated dual-threat quarterbacks and will be starting new, pro-style guys. That should result in even more sack opportunities for Mr. Gregory in 2014.
Brent Yarina: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. How good can Bosa be in his sophomore season? Consider this: the athletic end registered all 7.5 of his sacks after the first five games — meaning he averaged .83 sacks in the last nine contests. There’s no way Bosa will be shut out vs. the nonconference foes again this season, right? Right. With so much talent and depth across Ohio State’s line, Bosa will have no problem taking advantage of one-on-one matchups.