the Big Ten fallen in comparison to the
other BCS conferences?
Some discussions have
surrounded the fact that the Big Ten may
not be as strong as years past and does
not stack up as well against some other
BCS conferences. The answer is no. A few
of these discussions have to be based
in the fact that Ohio State looked totally
overmatched against a much faster SEC
team (Florida). Before the BCS bowl bids
were announced, Michigan made a great
case for playing in a rematch with the
Buckeyes for the National Title game.
As we all know, they didn't get that invite
and then, like OSU, UM looked totally
overwhelmed, they against USC in the Rose
Bowl. This is all fact, but isolated examples
don’t always sum up the full scope
of comparisons needed to make conclusions
like these hold water. With that said,
the SEC is still heads above every conference,
and USC is just...well, USC. From top
to bottom, the Big Ten is as balanced
as any conference in 2007. The top three
in our projected finish are very worthy
of Top 10 status and any of the teams
from Penn State to Northwestern could
really surprise. This could be a very
good year for the Big Ten. Most teams
are blessed with a large amount of returning
Michigan and Ohio State still the best
two teams like most every year?
Yes, but, like usual,
throw Wisconsin into the mix. The Badgers
went 12-1 last season after beating SEC
runner-up Arkansas in the Capital One
Bowl and have just about everyone back
again. They did dodge the Buckeyes on
the schedule in 2006. That won't be the
case this year, however, as second year
coach Bret Bielema gets truly tested in
back-to-back November games versus Ohio
State and Michigan. Penn State is another
team blessed with a large array of skill
people and a senior QB in Anthony Morelli.
They can make some serious noise with
a home schedule that includes Notre Dame,
Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State.
there a National Championship contender
from the Big Ten again?
The Buckeyes should not
be totally dismissed from this possibility.
Jim Tressel can coach and recruit, but
he will have a difficult time running
the table without playmakers Troy Smith
and Ted Ginn. If there was one team, Michigan
would have to be that team. Looking below
at our list of ‘Best Players at
Each Position’, the Wolverines have
secured every offensive spot except TE.
The opposite is true for their defense,
which suffered heavy losses. However,
this UM defense will not miss much of
a beat. Many of the players are just as
talented as those who have departed, and
the college football world should find
this out by season's end. Henne, Hart
and Manningham are legitimate Heisman
Candidates...need we say more?
team(s) could end up a disappointment?
A good many will be walking
the ‘break even’ fence of
getting bowl eligible. This is due to
the parity amongst the middle-ranked members
of the Big Ten. Iowa breaks in a new QB;
Purdue has to show they can play defense;
Minnesota is also breaking in a new QB
and receiver depth is unproven; Northwestern
has a good bit of experience across the
board but has not been able to consistently
beat some of the bigger teams; and Michigan
State is in a total state of transition,
from QB to corners to coaching. It is
likely that each in this grouping of teams
falls somewhere around .500. With one
tough loss here or there, many of these
wanna-be’s could be home for the
Illinois and Indiana still the bottom
with a big HOWEVER. The Illini and Hoosiers
are still projected to finish at the bottom.
HOWEVER, they won't finish here with their
typical two to three struggling wins.
In fact, so much experience is back for
both squads that each may get over the
.500 hump. The non-conference schedules
are not too daunting, especially for Indiana.
Prediction: Indiana comes in undefeated
when these two meet in Bloomington on
the fourth Saturday in September. The
Hoosiers have a great chance to get to
4-0 and, regardless, the local headlines
will read, "Win one for Coach Hep!"