Beat writers select 2015 Big Ten West sleeper teams
On Wednesday, we took a look at potential sleepers in the Big Ten East.
Now, let’s take a look at the Big Ten West. I asked writers from the division who they felt could be a sleeper in the West. A “sleeper” is a team that doesn’t necessarily win a division or league title but plays better than expected.
My choice: Minnesota. The Gophers are coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons that included the program’s first New Year’s Day bowl since the 1961 season. But I think Minnesota could take things to another level in 2015 and win the Big Ten West title.
Brian Neubert, Gold & Black Illustrated: Minnesota. I don’t know how if Minnesota is ever going to be a high-end contender in the Big Ten under Jerry Kill and his staff, but they look established now under a strong staff that’s been together a long time and won everywhere.
Sean Callahan, Huskeronline.com: Minnesota. If you were to rank overall units in the West, Minnesota’s defense may be the best. They had three players make national watch lists. They also have a coach in Jerry Kill who is now proven and knows how to control a game with his offense. They also have a great punter. If there’s a year set up for Minnesota to win the West, this is it. Wisconsin and Nebraska both have new head coaches and Iowa is down.
Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Iowa. Is this the year the Hawkeyes break free from mediocrity’s grip? The Hawkeyes have finished above the .500 mark in Big Ten play just once in the last five years and haven’t won more than eight games overall since 2009. That, coincidentally, was the last time Iowa visited Camp Randall Stadium.
Matt Daniels, Champaign News-Gazette: Iowa. Outside of playing at Camp Randall, no game seems out of the Hawkeyes’ reach. Everyone seems down on Kirk Ferentz. But if C.J. Beathard can bring the offense to life, watch out because the defense should be superb.
Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Purdue. A tough, experienced offensive line will set the tone on offense.
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times: What makes you think I have a sleeper? Minnesota has established itself as a legit threat. Short of that … how about Purdue wins a few?