Brent Yarina, BTN.com Senior Editor, August 27, 2012
With the 2012 college football season kicking off Thursday, it's time to offer my quick predictions. Where will each team finish in the Big Ten standings? I offer my best guesses. Who are some likely breakout players? I mention a few candidates. And who will hoist the hardware at the second annual Big Ten title game? I see history repeating itself. See all my predictions in this post.
Michigan State 10-2, 6-2
Michigan 9-3, 6-2
Nebraska 9-3, 5-3
Iowa 7-5, 3-5
Northwestern 7-5, 3-5
Minnesota 5-7, 2-6
Champ: Michigan State
Best Offensive Player: Denard Robinson, Michigan
Best Defensive Player: William Gholston, Michigan State
Breakout Offensive Player: Kenny Bell, Nebraska & Kain Colter, Northwestern
Breakout Defensive Player: Nico Law, Iowa
Team to watch: Nebraska – The schedule is grueling, to say the least, but the Huskers won't have any surprises coming their way in Year 2 in the Big Ten. This team is rumored to be more physical and it boasts a pretty solid offense.
Biggest question: Who will survive this competitive division? Will it be one of the favorites (Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska) or a dark horse (Iowa)?
Wisconsin 10-2, 6-2
Ohio State 9-3, 5-3
Purdue 7-5, 4-4
Illinois 7-5, 4-4
Penn State 6-6, 3-5
Indiana 4-8, 1-7
Best Offensive Player: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Best Defensive Player: Kawann Short, Purdue
Breakout Offensive Player: Stephen Houston, Indiana
Breakout Defensive Player: Ryan Russell, Purdue
Team to watch: Purdue – The Boilermakers return plenty of talent, particularly on defense where Short and Ricardo Allen lead the way, plus they have a manageable schedule that includes last season's two worst teams (Indiana and Minnesota) and home dates against the two toughest opponents (Michigan and Wisconsin).
Biggest question: Can anyone challenge two-time reigning Big Ten champ Wisconsin? Ohio State and Penn State are out of the running due to NCAA sanctions, and the rest of the division went a combined 6-18 in Big Ten play last season.
[BTN.com: Preseason Big Ten player rankings]
Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin over Michigan State
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Nagurksi-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Kawann Short, Purdue
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Most Improved Player: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
And to pass the time before Thursday's Minnesota-UNLV opener, I present to you this pump-up video: