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. Today’s topic: East surprise team? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
See our other 2014 predictions:
- Debate it: Will Michigan’s move to Nike/Jordan help boost recruiting?
- Debate it: Most intriguing storyline heading into this season?
- Debate it: Can a Big Ten West team win the conference title in 2016?
- Debate it: Who is the Big Ten’s top darkhorse Heisman candidate?
- What if you could start a team with one former Big Ten player?
Tom Dienhart: Maryland. Maryland. Don’t sleep on this Big Ten newcomer. The Terps have the makings of one of the Big Ten’s better offenses; and the defense features nine starters back. Could this be the third-best team in the East? We’ll see. One thing’s for sure: The schedule makers did Maryland no favors in its Big Ten debut.
Sean Merriman: Maryland. When looking at the Big Ten East, many people are quick to point out that Maryland and Rutgers will have a tough time winning games. Yes, there will be an adjustment period and the schedules are tough, no doubt. But from a talent standpoint, the Terps are loaded. Teams are going to have their hands full trying to stop this high-flying offense, led by five receivers who totaled 30-plus catches for 450-plus yards in 2013. Don’t be surprised to see Maryland average 30-plus points and card several “surprise” wins this season.
Brent Yarina: Michigan. Yes, Michigan struggled last season. Escapes vs. Akron and at UConn are unacceptable for the nation’s all-time winningest program. Thing is, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Wolverines in 2013. Especially on offense. The offensive line was torched, which led to an ineffective ground game and Devin Gardner running for his life. Still, this is a team with plenty of top-tier talent (Gardner, Devin Funchess, Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Blake Countess, etc.), making a bounceback season likely – assuming the line improves.