Each week during the season, BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman and a featured guest will debate a topic related to Big Ten football. This week’s question: If you were a Big Ten coach, would you rather have Nebraska’s offense or Michigan State’s defense.
Wisconsin has its fingerprint all over the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year award. Not only is the award named after two Badgers, former Wisconsin standout Montee Ball is its lone recipient, taking home the honors in both 2011 and 2012. Will another Wisconsin back win it in 2013? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
In its short two-year existence, the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year has been very kind to its recipients. The inaugural winner, Russell Wilson, went on to have an All-Pro NFL rookie season, and last year’s winner, Braxton Miller, is a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite. Not bad, huh?
Here’s what we know: There will be no repeat winner for the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year. Last year’s winner, John Simon, is in the NFL, leaving a pool of worthy candidates to fight for the award now in its third year. Who’s the top candidate entering the season? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss it in this post.
Braxton Miller is kind of good. We all saw what he did a season ago in his first year under Urban Meyer, and it all resulted in the 2012 Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year. Back under center as a junior, Miller is the favorite to repeat in 2013. Will he do it? Who are his biggest competitors? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss it in this post.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Tackles are an inexact science, to be sure. Teams award them differently, so it’s not always as simple as comparing Player A from School A to Player B from School B. Whatever the case, the Big Ten returns several of its top tacklers, including 2012 leader Anthony Hitchens. Who will lead the Big Ten in tackles this fall? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Last year was hardly the season of the sack. For the first time in at least a decade, no Big Ten player recorded double-digit sacks. Nine was good enough for the 2012 lead, shared between Northwestern’s Tyler Scott and Ohio State’s John Simon. Who will lead the Big Ten in sacks in 2013? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
No category, it seems, is more difficult to predict on a yearly basis than interceptions. Sure, we know who the best cover guys are in the league every year, but that’s not always who finds himself on top of the leaderboard. Last year, there was a quartet of guys who led the Big Ten, with four interceptions. Only Landon Feichter returns from the group. Will he repeat in 2013? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks.
Raise your hand if you thought Allen Robinson would lead the Big Ten in touchdown receptions a year ago at this time. No hands, right? That’s what we thought. Robinson entered last season with a grand total of three receptions before breaking out to pace the Big Ten with 77 catches, 1,013 yards and 11 TDs. Will there be another Robinson-like breakout this fall in the receiving TD category? Or will it be a familiar name? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks.
While the Big Ten doesn’t boast a laundry list of all-world wide receivers, it’s not like it is void of talent at the position. Guys such as Allen Robinson, Kenny Bell and Jared Abbrederis steal most of the headlines, but there’s also plenty of other productive guys. Who will lead the Big Ten in receiving yards this season? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
There used to be a time when the rushing touchdown leaderboard always came down to the elite running backs. These days, the running backs receive stiff competition from dual-threat quarterbacks. More specifically, in the Big Ten, Kain Colter, Taylor Martine and Braxton Miller. Will a signal-caller lead the Big Ten in rushing scores this fall? See Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina’s picks in this post.
The Big Ten is known for churning out 1,000-yard running backs. That’s still the case in 2013, with talents such as Ameer Abdullah, Carlos Hyde, Venric Mark and James White, among others, calling the Big Ten home. In recent seasons, however, quarterbacks have joined the mix, too. And that only makes predicting the rushing yards leader even more fun. See our guys’ picks for this season’s rushing yards leader in this post.
If we had told you prior to last season that Matt McGloin, Taylor Martinez, Robert Marve, Braxton Miller and Cam Coffman would finish 1-5 in touchdown passes, you would have thought we were crazy. Point is, at this time of year, it’s difficult to predict a category like this.
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
A year ago, few, if any, would have pegged Penn State’s Matt McGloin to lead the Big Ten in passing yards. He did, and did so in dominating fashion, finishing 395 yards ahead of Taylor Martinez despite playing two fewer games. Will another unexpected, under-the-radar guy lead the Big Ten in passing yards in 2013? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Good news, Big Ten offensive players: Montee Ball is gone, meaning the conference’s scoring title is wide open. Ball, the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2012 Doak Walker Award Winner, ruled the category the last two seasons, scoring a combined 368 points. Now that Ball is in the NFL, who will assume the Big Ten scoring title? Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their picks in this post.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Crean and Indiana spent a big portion of last season ranked No. 1 in the nation. As we all know, though, the Hoosiers lost a ton of talent, including Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller. They return Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey and also welcome a decorated incoming class, so the question needs to be asked: Should Indiana be ranked in the preseason polls? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their thoughts below.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no more talked-about position than quarterback, and for obvious reasons. The quarterback, more times than not, is the face of the team, and has his hands on the ball every snap. That being the case, fans love to follow a good quarterback battle.
Everyone associated with the Iowa football program would love to forget the 2012 season. It was a struggle all around, in pretty much every facet, as the Hawkeyes finished 4-8 and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Can this year’s new-look team get back to the postseason? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their thoughts in this post.
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
The way Northwestern finished the 2012 season, culminating in the program’s first bowl win since the 1948 Rose Bowl, coupled with the fact it returns much of its skill position talent, expectations are quite high in Evanston. In fact, some are wondering if the Wildcats – yes, the Wildcats – have what it takes to play for their first Big Ten title since 2000. Do they? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss in this post.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It might be crazy to consider, but will the Michigan offense be better this season sans Denard Robinson? You know, the same Robinson who set numerous records with his ability to rack up eye-popping statistical days? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss the topic in this post, and their answers may surprise some.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Give Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense another year under Urban Meyer, and the results should improve. Heck, in Year One with Meyer, the Buckeyes averaged a Big Ten-best 37.2 points per game. With Miller and a host of his best weapons back, including Carlos Hyde, Corey Brown and Devin Smith, among others, will Ohio State have the Big Ten’s best offense in 2013? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss it in this post.
Nebraska holds its annual Red-White Spring Game at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, and you’ll be able to watch it live on BTN/BTN2Go. As we’ll be doing with every team this spring, BTN’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina address one hot topic facing each team entering the 2013 season. Up first: Nebraska.
As we near the stretch run of the Big Ten schedule, there are plenty of races to keep an eye on. The most intriguing one, other than the Big Ten title race, is the battle for Big Ten Player of the Year. Will it be the season-long frontrunner Trey Burke? Or the quickly surging Victor Oladipo? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina debate the topic in this post.
With the recent additions of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten will feature 14 teams in the near future. Here at BTN, we’re asking fans for their answers to the key questions surrounding conference expansion.