Countdown to kickoff: West surprise team?

Kickoff is fast approaching. To help count down the days to Aug. 28, the BTN.com team is discussing one topic every day. Think of it as our countdown to kickoff. First up: West surprise team? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.

See our other 2014 predictions:

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Dienhart: Northwestern. Motivation won’t be lacking for the Wildcats, who saw a run of five bowls in a row end as a result of last season’s 5-7 season. Northwestern welcomes back lots of veteran talent. If the line play improves and the Cats learn how to win close games, Northwestern could be a dangerous team.

***

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Merriman: Iowa. Iowa is my surprise team in the West. Why, you ask? For starters, the Hawkeyes aren’t ranked in the preseason Coaches Poll, while both Nebraska and Wisconsin are, which means they are expected to finish the season somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten West standings. Call me bold, but I think this group has the talent and schedule (skip OSU, MSU, UM and PSU, and play Wisconsin and Nebraska at home) to win 10 games. In fact, there isn’t a single game on Iowa’s schedule that I look at and say “they can’t win this game.” How’s that for a surprise, folks?

***

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Yarina: Northwestern. It might seem like years ago, but Northwestern won 10 games in 2012. What’s more, plenty of the talent from that team is still suiting up in black and purple. The Wildcats found a way to lose last season – four losses came by single digits – so a little better luck here and there should be expected for a team that was more talented than its 5-7 clip last season indicates.

Find out more about:

3 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (3 Comments)
Jason on 8/5/2014 @ 9:52am EST Said:

Memo to the new guy (Merriman). Iowa is not a surprise team.

Mitchell on 8/5/2014 @ 2:58pm EST Said:

Rough no one likes Minnesota as their surprise team? Maybe they realized they’re not a surprise anymore

jim on 8/6/2014 @ 8:35am EST Said:

Iowa is a good chose because of schedule? That’s kind of like slipping in through the back door. I think NU if they stay healthy. This will be a smart veteran team with ability. They were so close in that O.S. game.