Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, August 29, 2016
The 2016 Big Ten football season kicks off Thursday night, with Indiana at Florida International and Oregon State at Minnesota (9 p.m. ET on BTN/BTN2Go).
Michigan State will take on Furman on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on BTN/BTN2G0, before the rest of the conference gets things started Saturday. View the full Week 1 schedule.
In order to get you ready for kickoff, I put together a fun list, highlighting everything you need to know heading into the season.
Here?s an A-Z look at the 2016 Big Ten Football season.
A is for Ash. As in Chris Ash. The first-time head coach brings a strong defensive pedigree to a Rutgers team that could surprise some folks in the Big Ten this year.
B is for Bowling. A total of 10 Big Ten teams played in bowl games last season, which is awfully impressive. How many Big Ten teams will go bowling in 2016? We will see.
C is for Claeys. As in Tracy Claeys. The Minnesota head coach enters his first full season at the helm for the Gophers. Will this be the year we see Minnesota in the Big Ten Championship Game?
D is for Defense. The Big Ten is loaded with both talented defensive units and individuals this season. Desmond King, Malik McDowell, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, Raekwon McMillan and Anthony Walker have all received some form of preseason All-American honors.
E is for Expectations. There are four Big Ten teams ranked in the Preseason Top 20, in Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. Expectations are high for the Big Ten this season.
F is for Franchise. As in Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker, who is nicknamed ?The Franchise.? Walker added some bulk this season, which should help make him one of the top middle linebackers in the country.
G is for Green. As in BTN?s "Green and White Days", an inside, behind-the-scenes look at reigning Big Ten champ Michigan State's training camp. Have you seen the show yet? If not, check it out. It?s nothing short of incredible.
H is for Harbaugh. As in Jim Harbaugh, the most polarizing coach in college football. What will he do in Year Two in Ann Arbor? No doubt, expectations for his Michigan team are through the roof this season.
I is for Indy. As in Indianapolis, the host to the 2016 Big Ten Football Championship. Who will represent the conference in the big game this year?
J is for Jordan. The Michigan Wolverines will become the first Division I football team to sport the Jordan Brand. Everything looks good with the Jordan Brand on it.
K is for Kickers. The Big Ten is loaded with talented kickers this season, including the likes of Griffin Oaks (Indiana), Drew Brown (Nebraska) and Rafael Gaglianone (Wisconsin).
L is for Lovie. As in Lovie Smith. The former Chicago Bears coach takes over the helm at Illinois. Can he get the Illini back on track?
M is for Malik. As in Malik McDowell. The Spartans? junior defensive tackle is one of the top defensive players in the country and could be a top 5 selection in next year?s NFL Draft.
N is for November. That is when the Big Ten matchups begin to really heat up. Michigan State vs. Ohio State, Ohio State vs. Michigan and Iowa vs. Nebraska are all in November.
O is for Ohio State. The Buckeyes seem to be the popular pick to win the Big Ten this season, despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL.
P is for Playoff. Will the Big Ten have a representative in this year?s College Football Playoff? The Big Ten is 2-for-2 on getting teams in the CFB Playoff, with Ohio State winning the inaugural event.
Q is for Quarterbacks. There were eight(!) Big Ten quarterback competitions heading into camp. Seven have been decided, as Michigan is the only one yet to be set.
R is for Rashan. As in Rashan Gary. The No. 1-ranked freshman in American arrives in Ann Arbor with a ton of lofty praise and high expectations. Will he live up to the hype?
S is for Scholarships. Penn State is finally back to its full scholarship allotment. Will this be a breakout year for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions?
T is for Tampa. The spot of this year?s National Championship Game. Ohio State won the title in the first year of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Will a Big Ten team be back this year?
U is for Uniforms. We have already gotten a glimpse at several new, fresh looking uniforms coming in 2015. I don?t know about you, but I love a good uniform debut.
V is for Venue. Is there a better venue to open the season than Wisconsin vs. LSU in Week 1 at Lambeau Field? You simply can?t beat it.
W is for Weber. As in Mike Weber. The Buckeyes? new starting running back is the most intriguing player in the Big Ten this season. Will he be able to fill the shoes of Ezekiel Elliott?
X is for X on their backs. The Michigan State Spartans beat both Michigan and Ohio State last season on their way to winning the Big Ten Championship. Everyone will be coming after the Spartans in 2016.
Y is for Youth. There are several highly touted freshmen arriving in the Big Ten, many of who are expected to contribute this fall. Keep an eye on Rashan Gary (Michigan), Donnie Corley (Michigan State) and Austin Mack (Ohio State).
Z is for Zero. The Big Ten has not had a single Heisman Trophy winner in 10 years now. The last Heisman winner was Troy Smith back in 2006. Is this the year that will change?