Here’s a fun project: I am ranking each 2012 Big Ten football game, from 96 to 1. Up first today: 80-96. In the next four days, I will send in groups of 20. If you see anything crazy, let me know. Like rankings like this? You need to check out my Rankings archive, where I rank all things Big Ten, including my top 2012 Big Ten units. Also, get all my latest Big Ten football posts right here.
With the 2012 NBA Draft in the rearview mirror, it’s time to rank the Big Ten’s top 2013 draft prospects. There’s a ton of talent across the conference, from freshmen to seniors. For the sake of this post, though, only sophomores through seniors are considered. Let’s call it the Harrison Barnes rule. If you remember, two years ago, Barnes was named to the AP Preseason All-America Team before playing a single college game. Things didn’t turn out as well as expected. So without further ado, here are my top 10 Big Ten 2013 NBA Draft prospects.
Coming up with 25 national candidates for the Heisman Trophy is difficult enough, so it’s easy to understand what Athlon Sports must have gone through while compiling its Big Ten’s 25 Heisman Trophy Contenders. Twenty-five, really?! Let’s focus on the top 5, what do you say? Here it is: 1. Denard Robinson; 2. Montee Ball; 3. Rex Burkhead; 4. Braxton Miller; 5. Taylor Martinez.
It’s anyone’s guess what the future of college football’s postseason holds. Will there be a four-team playoff? A plus-one? Or will it be the status quo? Whatever it may be, CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy posted an interesting article that ranks the nation’s top teams using final BCS Standings since 2007. Where do Big Ten teams land over the last five seasons? Find out in this post.
It’s the third component of every team. It’s also the most overlooked component. It’s special teams. And it’s often the difference between winning and losing. So, pay attention to these rankings, from 1 to 12, of the Big Ten special teams. Oh, and don’t forget about all of my 2012 unit rankings. Don’t agree with the rankings? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post or tweet me: @BTNTomDienhart.
Jeff Goodman, of CBSSports.com, posted his top non-conference contests for the 2012-13 campaign Tuesday, and the Big Ten is all over the 55-game list. In fact, the Big Ten is involved in three of the top 5 games, highlighted by North Carolina at Indiana, at No. 2, and 10 of the top 25. In all, 14 Big Ten contests make the cut. See the entire list here and view all the Big Ten games in this post.
Big Ten defensive backfields are loaded with talent, including cornerbacks like Michigan State’s Johnny Adams, Iowa’s Micah Hyde and Purdue’s Ricardo Allen, along with safeties like Ohio State’s C.J. Barnett, Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis and Michigan’s Jordan Kovacs. And some of the units figure to rank among the best in the nation, including those at Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska.
Linebacker play in the Big Ten should be strong this season, led by players like Wisconsin’s Mike Taylor, Penn State’s Gerald Hodges, Illinois’ Jonathan Brown and Michigan’s Kenny Demens, among many others. But which Big Ten schools have the best linebacking corps? Find out in my Big Ten unit rankings in this post. Don’t agree? Leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post. Also, don’t forget about all of my 2012 unit rankings.
The trenches are where games are won–ask any coach. And the Big Ten, led by a strong crop in the Leaders Division, has some good defensive fronts that will rate among the best in the nation. Where does your Big Ten school’s defensive line rank? Check out my entire list in this post. Don’t agree with my rankings? Leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post. Also, don’t forget about all of my 2012 unit rankings.
For any good offense, it all begins up front. It’s not an oversimplification to say the teams with the best offenses typically feature the best lines. Knowing that, Michigan State and Wisconsin have to be happy entering the 2012 college football season. I like the Spartans and Badgers’ front lines, to the point where they rank 1-2 in my Big Ten offensive line unit rankings. Where does your school’s line rank? See the entire list in this post. Also, check out all of my 2012 unit rankings.
Lots of questions loom on receiving corps across the Big Ten. The top seven pass catchers from 2011 are gone: Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins; Iowa’s Marvin McNutt; Northwestern’s Jeremy Ebert; Michigan State’s B.J. Cunningham; Wisconsin’s Nick Toon; Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin; Minnesota’s Da’Jon McKnight.
When Montee Ball opted to return for his senior season, he solidified Wisconsin as a Big Ten favorite and himself as a Heisman Trophy front-runner. Ball also cemented the Badgers’ status as having the Big Ten’s top collection of running backs. And perhaps the best collection in the nation. Here is how I rate the Big Ten running back units, which are a strong collection of talent with 12 of last season’s top 14 rushers back.
Every championship team needs a good quarterback. And it’s also helpful to have a decent backup, as injury often is commonplace in this era of running signal-callers.
In recent years, several assistants have gone directly from Big Ten schools to launch head coaching careers. Wisconsin and Michigan State have been the most fertile proving grounds of late as Pitt’s Paul Chryst (Wisconsin offensive coordinator) and Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren (Wisconsin defensive coordinator) came directly from Bret Bielema’s Badger staff the last two seasons.
The secondary looks like a strong position in the Big Ten in 2012. Four of the eight defensive backs named first- or second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches in 2011 are back: Michigan State’s Johnny Adams and Isaiah Lewis, Ohio State’s C.J. Barnett and Purdue’s Ricardo Allen. Three named first- or second-team by the media return: Iowa’s Micah Hyde, Lewis and Adams. With three selections, Michigan State is well-represented in my ranking of the top 10 defensive backs in the Big Ten for 2012.
The linebacking spot may be the most talented of any position on defense in the Big Ten in 2012. Wisconsin’s Chris Borland and Mike Taylor; Michigan State’s Denicos Allen; Illinois’ Jonathan Brown; Penn State’s Gerald Hodges all are back after earning either first- or second-team All-Big Ten accolades in 2011.
The Big Ten lost some good defensive linemen after last season. Four defensive tackles and three ends were selected in the NFL draft, highlighted by first-round pick Whitney Mercilus (Illinois). Also drafted were: Michigan State tackle Jerel Worthy (Packers), Penn State tackle Devon Still (Bengals), Michigan tackle Mike Martin (Titans), Nebraska tackle Jared Crick (Texans) and Iowa end Mike Daniels (Packers) and Penn State end Jack Crawford (Raiders).
The tight end spot continues to evolve into a more prominent position across the football landscape, as teams are featuring them more often as vertical passing threats.
Who will be the best receiver in the Big Ten? It’s a difficult question. The position lost a lot of good talent after last season. How much?
Is there a conference with a better collection of running backs than the Big Ten? Maybe not. The group instantly became one of the best in the nation when Wisconsin’s Montee Ball announced he would return for his senior season. Add it all up, and 12 of last season’s top 13 rushers are back. The only departure: Iowa’s Marcus Coker, who transferred to FCS Stony Brook after ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,384 yards in 2012.
The Big Ten will be bolstered by the return of nine starting quarterbacks in 2012. The only schools breaking in new starters under center are Michigan State (Kirk Cousins gone), Northwestern (Dan Persa gone) and Wisconsin (Russell Wilson gone). Without a doubt here, Michigan’s Denard Robinson looks like the top quarterback in the league. Could he become the first Big Ten quarterback to win the Heisman since Ohio State’s Troy Smith turned the trick in 2006?
On one hand, he’s often the most popular player on campus. On the other hand, you may not even know his name. He’s the backup quarterback. If he’s pressed into duty, it usually means one of two things: 1. The starter got hurt. 2. The starter was, ahem, ineffective. Knowing all this, it’s time for you to get to know your school’s No. 2 signal-caller. Here’s is how I rank ‘em.
When it comes to fabulously famous tandems, there have been many over the years. TV’s Captain Kirk and Spock. Literature and film’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. You see where I’m going. Each individual helps make the duo’s value greater than just the sum of their parts. What are the best tandems in the Big Ten? Glad you asked.
You just got hired to be a head coach at a Big Ten school. Your head is spinning as you give you’re opening remarks at a press conference, but there is no time to be giddy. You must build a coaching staff—and you only can do so by taking assistants from other Big Ten schools.