2016 Big 10 College Football Preview

MichCollege

Big 10 EAST

1 – OHIO STATE – Are we really going anywhere else here? Urban Meyer is an unbelievable 31-1 in regular season Big 10 play. How can we go against him? I mean, I get he has 3 returning starters on both sides of the ball. But until I see otherwise, Buckeyes get the call.

2 – MICHIGAN – Jim Harbaugh returns 14 starters and is looking to knock off Ohio State. The schedule is a tough one. At Michigan State. At Iowa. They are on the road to end things at the Big House. That should decide who wins the Big 10 and goes to the playoffs.

3 – MICHIGAN STATE – Mark D’Antonio only has 10 starters back and lost his big QB who led the troops. I think they can’t repeat a 12 win season. But the drop off will be there. Besides the 2 teams above them, Penn State is really the only team now, or a year from now, away from moving to the upper levels here. We know the defense will be stout and the run game will look to take pressure off a new QB.

4 – PENN STATE – Another nice recruiting class to add more depth here. They lose an underachieving QB, but still return 9 starters on offense (6 def). HC James Franklin is building back this program. But they are not ready to compete with the big boys yet.

5 – MARYLAND – Another new HC as DJ Durkin takes control of the Terps. This is a pretty experienced coaching staff, so I think they can reach the troops and get them out to a fast start. 4-0 looks possible and if the pull off a road win at Penn State, I can see them at 6-0 before facing Michigan State. I think these guys go bowling and rebound nicely from a 3 win season.

6 – RUTGERS – Scarlet Knights bring 16 starters back (9 off 7 def) and our looking at a fresh start with new HC Chris Ash. This team has some talent and I think the new direction will have these players motivated to overachieve as they have done in the past. Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan b2b2b is surely 0-3 and probably gets ugly. It will take a little luck and an upset or 2 for a bowl bid.

7 – INDIANA – I think Kevin Wilson has his work cut out for him here. When you lose your QB and RB to the NFL and you are a team that was 6-7 last year, you are in for growing pains. Look. I thought this team would be bowling last year. They improved in wins along the way. 6 wins can be reached if they get some good QB play.

Big 10 WEST

1 – IOWA – After going 12-0 the Hawkeyes look to rebound after losing the Big 10 Championship to Michigan St and getting slaughtered by Stanford in the Rose Bowl. This isn’t a sexy group, but does return 8 starters on defense, 5 on offense. Having a senior QB should make 5 Big 10 road manageable, especially since none had winning seasons at home LY. I can’t see another undefeated regular season, but I think they win the west.

2 – NEBRASKA – If anyone is going to rise to to top here and overtake Iowa, the Cornhuskers are my favorite. Look. they were disappointing last year in Mike Riley’s first season. They lost 5 games in the final seconds. They could have easily been 11-2! Woulda coulda shoulda, but a coach like Riley will have his guys build on those losses. 2nd year of the new schemes. They were better than their record last year. I won’t be shocked to see them represent the west in the Championship Game.

3 – NORTHWESTERN – I think they overachieved a bit last year and I can’t see them winning 10 games again. I think they are a hair better than Wiscy because of their defense. They need to be at worse 3-1 entering October because there are 3 losses waiting for them in Iowa, OSU and Michigan State.

4 – WISCONSIN – The schedule is brutal here. Opening against LSU. Then a 4 game stretch of at Michigan State and Michigan, home for Ohio State, road game at Iowa. They were 10-3 last year and could easily be 2-5 in October.

5 – ILLINOIS – Giving Lovie Smith the 5 spot here. He has some decent pieces back at QB and RB and 7 starters back on offense. The D has only 4 starters back so that can be a problem. I just think the new direction will infuse some excitement into the program. The kids will be run through walls for an NFL guy who I am sure is promising to get them ready for the next level.

6 – MINNESOTA – These guys were 5-7 last year and went bowling! Thank you NCAA for watering down the post season. 13 returning starters and that bowl win will have the Gophers with some pep in their step. No Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule. Might get the bowling shoes ready.

7 – PURDUE – All you need to know about the Boilermakers is this. Under HC Darrell Hazell they are now 2-22 in Big 10 play. 8 starters back on both sides of the ball. Does that even matter. They were 2-10 last year. The guy never sticks to a QB. Hot seat? How about absolutely on FIRE. Maybe they steal a game somewhere. But I won’t be shocked if their only win is over Eastern Kentucky.

 

Written by Sean Higgs as he is ready to tackle Big 10 Football!  Be sure to check back daily for other College Football Conference Previews

Michigan Wolverines making a serious run at the National title

Michigan

After the amazingly first-class season last year, how much was genuinely expected from the Wolverines this year? Coming into the season, they had come off of a heartbreaking loss in the National title game vs Louisville last season, 82-76. Where Luke Hancock was preposterous in his scoring and shooting expertise. But in the end the Wolverines couldn’t handle the Cards and their explosive team.

The Wolverines came in, with pretty concrete expectations throughout all of it. Which is always challenging to deal with as a team. It’s a long season, and a season is far from decided in a 6-7 game span. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Last years success came mostly from the offensive side of the ball, putting in more FGs than any other team in the country last year. And of course, with Trey Burke playing impressively all season long.

Playing in the Big 10, the most challenging conference in the NCAA, with 5 teams ranked in the polls. Michigan coach John Beilein has to get the most out of this team each and every night they take the court. A hot streak put together, they can hands-down surprise folks again, and put them back in the snug drivers seat.

Led by sophomore guard, Nik Stauskas, who has been nothing short of fantastic this year, is knocking down everything he puts up, shooting 44% from behind the arc, scoring 17 a night and getting his teammates the ball, and keeping them involved as well with 4 dimes a night. Last year, he was known for the most part as the spot up shooter, coming off curls and popping up deep jumpers, this year he has greatly improved his ball handling skills and is creating a bit more for himself and his teammates off the dribble. Nik has to get to the next level and become the Wolverines leader on the court, be the man to take a team on his back and lead when the game gets tight.

Become the identity of the team. Much like Trey Burke did last year.

Despite losing 2 players to the first round of the NBA draft, with Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.,The Wolverines still are a powerful offensive team. Based off of harmonious scoring, even with Stauskas being their leading scorer, its very essential for them to keep the likes of Glenn Robinson and even Caris LeVert involved as well. They need to go on doing the important things like out-rebounding opponents. Which the Wolverines have been good at on the year, keeping opponents off the offensive glass, allowing only 9 a game.

The Wolverines need to become more aggressive to make a serious push in the tournament. They have to take the ball to the paint and get teams in foul trouble. And when teams know most of your shots are coming from outside, they will change up and defend accordingly. They have to break it down and not count upon the outside shots so much.

They have dropped in the polls, and seem to be in free fall from the radar for many. But I think that many folks are overreacting to the losses a bit as well. Hot shooting, and shirking defense is what has hurt the Wolverines of late. Most teams in the NCAA go through stretch where they struggle.

Most, not all, *cough* Syracuse.

The Wolverines may have a “less than amazing” team, but they still have a very good team. They have some issues, as does pretty much every other team, as well. I believe they can work through those, and can make a strong late season push to credibly go deep in the tournament.