Big Ten Football Predictions 2013
By Matt Hetzler
Big Ten Leaders Predictions 2013
1) Ohio State
Offense: Braxton Miller is the leader of the program, and a Heisman hopeful for 2013. Miller is coming off of a great 2012 campaign. Miller threw for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,200. The offense returns 9 starters, including running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde had some trouble in the off-season, but he should play this season. Miller has Corey Miller and Devin Smith returning at wideout. The line brings back 4 starters from last season, so Miller should be well protected.
Defense: The defense is going to have to gain experience quickly to match the numbers from last season. A new defensive front will be introduced for Ohio State this season, who was second last season in rush defense. Ryan Shazier returns and had 115 tackles last season. Bradley Roby was suspended in the off-season but it looks like it will be just one game. Roby is one the best corners in the nation, and a potential top 10 draft pick. Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett will return at the safety positions.
Special Teams: Drew Basil will handle both kicking and punting duties this season for the Buckeyes.
Final Thoughts: Ohio State is loaded on offense, and they have a cupcake schedule. The defense has a lot of question marks, and the Buckeyes will have to play some pretty good offensive teams. Road games at Northwestern and Michigan could be potential upsets to ruin a second straight perfect season. Ohio State should make the Big 10 championship game, and play in a BCS game.
Offense: Joel Stave will start at QB for coach Gary Andersen, in his first season with the Badgers. Wisconsin loses Montee Ball but they have James White to replace him. White is a workhorse and already has over 2,500 career yards despite playing behind Ball. Jared Abbrederis returns and provides a solid target for Stave. Wisconsin returns 3 starters on the line and Jacob Pedersen at tight end.
Defense: Chris Borland will anchor the Wisconsin defense. Borland will be the key player in the new blitz scheme. The secondary will be inexperienced, but the defensive line will return most of the starters from last season.
Special Teams: Kyle French returns at kicker, French struggled last season with accuracy. Drew Meyer will also return at punter.
Final Thoughts: Wisconsin is going to be a tricky team to predict. The offense should be good, but if Stave plays better, the offense could be one of the best in the Big 10. The defense is introducing a new blitz scheme. It will be interesting to see how the team does under Gary Andersen, who is a proven winner. Wisconsin has a big game at Ohio State, if they can win that, they could easily be looking at a 4th straight Big 10 title.
Offense: Cam Coffman is back for Indiana at QB this season, in what could be a special year for the Hoosiers. Coffman threw for 2,734 yards and tossed 15 TDs. Coffman has competition with Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld. The main pieces of the offense from last season are back. Telvin Coleman will get the nod as starting running back. The receiving core is strong as ever, Cody Latimer, Shane Wynn, and Kofi Hughes all had over 43 catches a year ago. Indiana returns for starting offensive lineman from a year ago. The experience is there to improve on last season’s great offensive season.
Defense: Indiana returns 7 starters from last season’s defensive unit. The 2012 unit struggled and finished dead last in total defense, scoring, and rushing. They allowed over 35 points per game. Ryan Phillis and Zack Shaw return on the line at the end position. The linebacker core returns 2 starters including David Cooper who made 86 tackles last season. Greg Heban returns at safety, Haben made 91 tackles last season.
Special Teams: Mitch Ewald and Erich Toth return as kicker and punter.
Final Thoughts: The only thing holding Indiana back this season will be defense. The Hoosiers are stacked on offense and have depth at all the key positions. If the defense can improve slightly I think Indiana can win a bunch of games. They start with 5 straight home games, with games against Missouri and Penn State. Road games at Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State seem unfair. They must win their home conference games to be .500 in the league. I think Indiana to improve on their win total from a year ago with 7-8 wins.
4) Penn State
Final Thoughts: Christian Hackenberg is most likely going to start for Penn State at quarterback. Hackenberg was the best QB recruit in the nation. Allen Robinson returns at wideout and he finished last season with 77 catches. Zack Zwinak is a 1,000 yard rusher who returns. The defense is going to be just as talented as a year ago. Experience in the secondary will be key, and Deion Barnes is looking to continue the success from a year ago. The defense will be a little thin at linebacker but if DeQuan Jones can get some pressure from the ends, they should be fine. Overall I think this Penn State team can be just as good as a year ago. They get Michigan and Nebraska at home, but have road trips to Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Final Thoughts: First year coach Darrell Hazell will have his hands full in his opening year at Purdue. Purdue returns only a handful of players on offense. Akeem Hunt is a playmaker, and he could break out this season at RB. The defense returns 9 from last year’s team that finished 11th in total defense in the Big 10. Purdue is going to have trouble in Hazell's first season with a very tough schedule. They do get Iowa and Illinois at home which should mean a couple of wins.
Final Thoughts: Illinois finished with 2 wins in 2012, and I'm not so sure they will beat that mark in 2013. Illinois returns most of the offense from last season, an offense which finished dead last in total offense and 119th national. Nathan Scheelhaase will have Donovonn Young and Ryan Lankford back, which should help the offense. The defense returns only 3 starters, the lack of experience is not going to help a defense which finished 10th in the Big 10 last season. It looks like another tough season is on the way for head coach Tim Beckman. The schedule is brutal in conference play, and Cincinnati and Washington are out of conference.
Big Ten Legends Predictions 2013
Offense: The offense will be talked about more in Lincoln this season than the defense. Senior Taylor Martinez returns for Bo Pelini, and he has an offense rich in talent and playmaking ability. Surrounding Martinez will be a talented cast consisting of running back Ameer Abdullah who rushed for over 1,100 yards last season. Quincy Enunwa and Kenny Bell both have big play abilty. Bell had 8 TD's a year ago. Jamal Turner is another big target for Martinez. The offensive line returns 3 starters including Spencer Long at right guard. Look for Nebraska to be at the top of the BIG 10 in offense again this season.
Defense: The defense only returns a handful of players and will lack depth and experience. Nebraska as a defensive unit last season was pretty awful, and it could be worse this season. The entire front line, along with linebackers will be inexperienced. The secondary will have a couple of returning starters at corner with Clante Evans and Josh Mitchell.
Special Teams: Mauro Bondi will start the season as the kicker for Nebraska, while Sam Foltz will handle the punting duties.
Final Thoughts: Bo Pelini will have his hands full with the defense. But the offense is going to single win games by themselves. The offense averaged about 35 points a season ago, if they can improve on that number, Nebraska will win a lot of their games. The schedule sets up well for the Huskers. They host Northwestern and Michigan State, and have to travel to Michigan and Penn State. Michigan will be the toughest game for the Huskers, but with a win in every other game they should reach the BIG 10 title game again this season.
Offense: Devin Gardner will get the nod as the starting QB coming into the new season. Gardner threw for over 1,200 yards last season. Fitzgerald Toussaint returns after only rushing for 514 yards last season. Jeremy Gallon will also be back, Gallon had 829 yards receiving last season. The line will be looking to replace 3 starters from last season.
Defense: The defense is going to be inexperienced this season for Michigan. Injuries and graduation have left the Michigan defense thin. Desmond Morgan and Quinton Washington will have to be anchors for the Wolverine defense. The secondary will have 3 new faces this season, as Thomas Gordon is the only returning starter.
Special Teams: Brendan Gibbons will be back as the kicker for Michigan. Gibbons made 16 of 18 last season. It looks like Matt Wile will handle the punting duties.
Final Thoughts: Brady Hoke will have his hands full this season. The offense should be fine, but the defense is filled with holes. Michigan has to travel to Penn State, Northwestern, and Michigan State. Michigan gets Ohio State at home, where Brady Hoke has not lost a game as Michigan's head coach. Michigan should be able to still win 9-10 games this season if the defense plays well enough.
3) Michigan State
Offense: Michigan State returns an experienced offense this season, which includes QB Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell threw for over 2,600 yards but the offense struggled as a whole last season. Michigan State finished 9th in total offense a year ago. Bennie Fowler and Aaron Burbridge return as top targets for Maxwell as the receivers position. Riley Bullough, who is a redshirt freshman will get the nod as the team’s starting tailback.
Defense: The Spartans defense was a tough unit last season. Michigan State finished 1st in scoring, rushing and total defense in the Big 10, and top 10 nationally in all major defensive categories. They must replace 3 starters on the line, but return Marcus Rush up front. Taiwan Jones, Max Bullough, and Denicos Allen will be a solid linebacker unit. There is plenty of experience returning in the secondary, with 3 starters coming back.
Special Teams: Freshman Michael Geiger will handle the kicking duties for the Spartans this season. Mike Sadler returns at the starting punter.
Final Thoughts: Michigan State is solid on defense. With most of the offense returning, the experience could help them win the close games they lost last season. Mazwell is a fine QB, he will need to step it up this season for this team to be successful. A run at the BIG 10 title game is not out of the question with this team. Michigan State gets Michigan and Indiana at home, but travels to Nebraska and Northwestern.
Final Thoughts: Northwestern is returning 8 starters on offense from a team that averaged almost 32 ppg last season. Northwestern will be extremely talented on offense again. Quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian will both see playing time again, with different offensive looks. Venric Mark also returns in the running game after rushing for over 1,300 yards and 12 scores. The defense also returns it’s a fair share of players. Tyler Scott and Damian Proby will be the anchors on the defense. Northwestern gets Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan St at home, but travel to Wisconsin and Nebraska. Northwestern has a tough schedule, but with a couple home upsets they could make a run at the Legends title.
Final Thoughts: Minnesota returns almost everyone on offense, so the experience will be there. But it is the same offense that averaged only 22.1 ppg in 2013. The defense returns half its starters from a year ago, and they were a little better than the offense. If quarterback Phillip Nelson can lead the offense to a few more points, the Gophers could have a decent season. The schedule is not in their favor, as they have one of the hardest schedules in the B10.
Final Thoughts: Iowa finished 11th in 2013 in total offense in the Big 10 and 9th in total defense. Iowa returns only 6 on offense. The defense should be much improved. Just like Minnesota, Iowa is faced with a tough conference schedule. Kirk Ferentz will have a tough task on his hands to reach a bowl game.