Countdown to kickoff: Big Ten West champ?
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: Big Ten West champ? Check out Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
See our other 2014 countdown to kickoff posts:
- 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: Iowa. If you read this site at all, you’re well aware of how high I am on the Hawkeyes in 2014. I flat-out love Iowa’s combination of talent, especially in the trenches, and schedule. This is a program on the upswing that also is as well-coached as any in the Big Ten.
Sean Merriman: Wisconsin. The Big Ten has long been known as a “ground-and-pound” conference. Big Ten games are often won in the trenches, and that is why I’m taking the Badgers. Wisconsin has the top backfield duo in the conference, with Melvin Gordon leading the way and Corey Clement serving as his backup. Rob Havenstein and the Badgers’ o-line will pave the way for an explosive running game. There are questions on the defense, but Wisconsin’s most challenging division games (vs. Nebraska, at Iowa, vs. Minnesota) all come in the final month of the season.
Brent Yarina: Wisconsin. I like the decision to start Tanner McEvoy, and it’s why I’m picking the Badgers over Iowa, my favorite before the McEvoy news. Yes, Wisconsin breaks in a new front seven on defense and lacks any proven commodities at wide receiver, but this is a team that will absolutely shred opponents on the ground. McEvoy, a good athlete, should make Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement even more dangerous.