Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Minnesota could be poised for a breakout in Year Three under Jerry Kill, who got the program to its first bowl since 2009 last season. Playing in the rigorous Legends Division will make Kill’s task difficult with the likes of Nebraska, Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State looming, but Kill continues to improve the talent on the roster. Here’s my look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Golden Gophers this season.
The arrival of Darrell Hazell from Kent State has energized Purdue and given fans hope for the future. He inherits a team that went to a bowl last season under Danny Hope, but the roster is still a bit talent poor. Regardless, Hazell has a nice plan and a strong staff. Here is my best- and worst-case scenarios for the Boilermakers.
Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Expectations are teeming in Bloomington, as Kevin Wilson enters his third season on the job. A high-powered offense gives the Hoosiers a chance in just about every game. But how will the defense perform, as Indiana looks for its bowl since 2007? Here is my best- and worst-case scenarios for the Hoosiers.
Expectations were big for Michigan State entering last season, as the Spartans were coming off consecutive 11-win seasons and an appearance in the Big Ten title game after the 2011 season. Alas, a sluggish offense was a big culprit in a disappointing 7-6 season. But hope springs eternal for MSU in 2013, thanks to what looks to be another stout defense. Here is my Best Case/Worst Case for Michigan State.
Michigan is the pick of many to win the Legends Division in Brady Hoke’s third season in Ann Arbor. There is a lot to like about the Wolverines, who continue to accumulate an impressive collection of talent. But how will the d-line develop? Will the running game get back on track? Here’s my look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for Michigan this season.
Urban Meyer’s 12-0 debut in 2012 stoked the fires for a program that was shackled by NCAA probation last season and couldn’t win the Big Ten or go to a bowl. Now unencumbered by probation and with most of that roster back—including quarterback Braxton Miller–expectations are enormous at Ohio State.
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Bill O’Brien surprised many by debuting with an 8-4 record. In fact, he went 8-2 over the last 10 games after an 0-2 start. The Nittany Lions still are dealing with severe scholarship sanctions because of NCAA probation, which will threaten to compromise the team’s thin depth. Still, the front-line talent is top-notch; and if it stays healthy, this could be another successful season in State College.
Expectations are big in Lincoln for a program looking for a big breakthrough under Bo Pelini, who is in his sixth season. Led by QB Taylor Martinez, the offense should be among the best in the Big Ten. The defense? It will determine the season after looking awful in three big games last year: at UCLA; at Ohio State; vs. Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Is the rebuilt front seven up to the task?
This is a pivotal season for Iowa, which is coming off its worst year since 2000 as the Hawkeyes missed the postseason for the first time since 2007. Iowa hasn’t missed a bowl two seasons in a row since a three-year drought from 1998-2000. Kirk Ferentz made more coaching changes in the offseason, as he searches to steady a listing ship.
The debut of the Tim Beckman era was, well, disappointing. The Fighting Illini went 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten, pushing the school’s league losing skid to 14 games. The arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has increased optimism for what was a moribund attack.
The Badgers have become the bellwether for the Big Ten, advancing to the last three Rose Bowls. Their quest to make it four in a row is complicated by Leaders Division rival Ohio State being eligible to win the Big Ten and play in a bowl after being on probation last season.
David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
Expectations. Every team deals with them. And, of course, they differ from team to team. Right now, in late July, the possibilities seem endless for each Big Ten team. That’s where I come in with a bucket full of confetti—and one full of cold water. I will begin to take a look at my best-case and worst-case scenarios for each team this season.