Thursday, September 2, 2010

Week 1 Big Ten Saturday Preview

Obviously big news broke yesterday with all the divisions and stuff associated with that. I'll have all my thoughts on the matter on Tuesday in my College Football Ramblings post. Until then here is your Week 1 Big Ten Saturday Preview (with special Thursday games this week!) You won't find Michigan vs UConn in this post. That preview will come tomorrow in its own post.

Thursday, September 2nd
Towson at Indiana (7:30, BTN)
Even for Indiana 1-AA Towson is a cupcake. Towson is a team that Northwestern beat 47-7 last year. There's no analysis needed for this game.
The pick: Indiana

Marshall at #2 Ohio State (7:30, BTN)
Another cupcakes comes to town to take on a Big Ten opponent. The Bucks will roll over this team.
The pick: Ohio State

Minnesota at Middle Tennessee State (7:30, ESPNU)
My main question is why in the world Minnesota agreed to go on the road to Middle Tennessee State when they could easily find a 1-AA school to beat up at home.
The Pick: Minnesota

Saturday, September 4th
Western Michigan at Michigan State (Noon, ESPN2)
While some may remember Michigan State losing at home to Central Michigan last year, that was a fluke miracle-type win for the Chippewas. In addition, the Broncos don't nearly have the firepower that Central had. This game is no contest.
The pick: Michigan State

Youngstown State at #19 Penn State (Noon, BTN)
The Nittany Lions welcome in Ohio State's baby brother for a butt whooping.
The pick: Penn State

Eastern Illinois at #9 Iowa (12:05, BTN)
Don't sleep on this one. If you remember correctly, the Hawkeyes needed two blocked field goals to hold on 22-21 against Northern Iowa in their opener last year. They also beat 1-AA Arkansas State just 24-21. Eastern Illinois could keep this one close.
The pick: Iowa

Illinois at Missouri* (12:30)
Missouri has crunched Illinois every time they've played, including a 37-9 beatdown the year after the Illini went to the Rose Bowl. This year will be no different.
The pick: Missouri
*Game in St. Louis, MO

Purdue at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC)
Purdue lost a heart breaker at home last year 24-21 against Notre Dame. They will have revenge on their mind Saturday. But in a hostile environment against a talented team it won't be enough.
The pick: Notre Dame

Northwestern at Vanderbilt (7:30,
This is definitely the most intriguing match-up this weekend aside from the Michigan game. While Vanderbilt is not very good, the 'Cats have been known to stumble on the road (see: NU at Indiana, last year). Are these the same Wildcats of old? No.
The pick: Northwestern

#12 Wisconsin at UNLV (11:00, Versus)
This is a trap game for Wisconsin who is going to have to go full-effort to win this one comfortably. Expect UNLV to contend into the second half.
The pick: Wisconsin

My 2010 Big Ten Saturday Preview record: 0-0
Last week: 0-0

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 1 Big Ten Power Rankings and National Top 10

Here's my preseason Big Ten Power Rankings. Normally I'd have the previous week's ranking in parenthesis next to the teams but since this is the first week that will begin in Week 2's edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings. Without further ado off we go!

1. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Bucks return fifteen starters from a team that won the Rose Bowl 26-18 over Oregon last year. The Buckeyes figure to be even more dangerous this year as quarterback Terrell Pryor finally found his groove against the Ducks last year. Watch out Big Ten because the Buckeyes are going to be monsters this year.
2. Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes return the majority of a team that was ranked fourth in the country at one point last season and won the Orange Bowl. Iowa's defense will shut down opponents this year but the key will be if quarterback Ricky Stanzi can stay healthy and show up earlier than the fourth quarter, which he struggled to do last year.
3. Wisconsin
The Badgers return the most talent out of any of the top three teams as seventeen starters are back. Running back John Clay is a Heisman dark horse and quarterback Scott Tolzien should be better than ever. The defense is also great so the Badgers should be a force to reckon with this season and contend for a Rose Bowl appearance.
4. Penn State
The Nittany Lions return fourteen starters but lost their most important one, quarterback Darryl Clark. Penn State now has slim pickings at the most important position on the field but a solid ground game with RB Evan Royster and a good defense should make up for some of the deficiencies at QB.
5. Michigan State
The loss of nine players last winter really hurt the Spartans as they could of contended for a Big Ten Championship this season. Instead, Michigan State is back in the middle of the pack with a good passing game, led by QB Kirk Cousins, and a great ground game. The defense is decent and should make for a good but not great season in East Lansing.
6. Michigan
The Wolverines return a Big Ten-high eighteen players (now technically seventeen because of the injury to Troy Woolfolk) and that should be enough to get them to a Bowl Game. The offense is decent and should put points on the board but the defense is a real concern. You can't win if the other team is putting up forty points every game no matter how good your offense is.
7. Northwestern
The Wildcats seem to have found their niche in the Big Ten and despite a relatively low ranking to open up the season they could climb. While they lost superstar QB Mike Kafka, Dan Persa should more than competently fill that role. The defense, though, should not be as good as it was last year and could hamper the team moving forward.
8. Purdue
Half of the starters return from a 5-7 squad last year that easily could have been 9-3 without some close losses to good teams. However, QB Joey Elliot is off to the NFL and transfer Robert Marve is left to fill the roll. Marve was okay in his rookie season at Miami FL but moved to West Lafayette after Jacory Harris took over. The defense should be decent for the Boilers, anchored by All-American DE Ryan Kerrigan.
9. Minnesota
Senior quarterback Adam Webber hopes to lead Minnesota to a respectable season but it doesn't look promising. The defense is in shambles, returning less than half of 2009's starters, and Webber himself is in competition with Sophomore Marquis Gray. That's right a sophomore is challenging the schools all-time leading passer for the starting job. Minnesota should win a few games but not be bowl eligible.
10. Indiana
A bad 2009 defense got worse with the loss of their best player, DE Jamey Kirlew to the NFL Draft. The defense is going to kill the Hoosiers in 2010. However, the pistol offense is a high-powered passing attack behind the laser arm of Ben Chapell and All-Big Ten receiver Tandon Doss. However, Indiana has no running game and the one-dimensionality of the team will likely come back to bite the team.
11. Illinois
A brutal 2009 season is going to be followed by a brutal 2010. With no QB or defense it's going to be a long season. The one bright spot for the Illini is probably junior RB Mikel LeShoure who has the potential to be a star this year.

National Top 10
1. Ohio State The Buckeyes have the countries best defense and a great offense to go along with it.
2. Boise State The Bronocs don't need tricks to beat you anymore. A stingy defense and video game like offense will propel the Broncos to their first BCS National Championship Game ever.
3. Alabama The defending National Champs return most of their offense but just one starter on defense. Defense wins in the SEC so Alabama will not go undefeated.
4. Oklahoma Though Sam Bradford is gone, the Sooners still have a great offense and a stellar defense to go along with it.
5. TCU An SEC-like defense to go along with an offense led by one of the nation's best quarterbacks makes the Horned Frogs the top team in Texas.
6. Texas The Longhorns return most of their defense and still have a good offense without Colt McCoy.
7. Florida The Gators lost most of their defense and one of the greatest college football players of all time in QB Tim Tebow. The Gators will still be good, but they're not National Title contenders.
8. Virginia Tech The Hokies have one of the best QB-RB combinations in the country with Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams. A solid defense complements the high powered attack.
9. Iowa The Hawkeyes have the second best defense in the Big Ten, behind #1 Ohio State, and the most clutch quarterback in the country in Ricky Stanzi.
10. Nebraska The Big Ten's soon-to-be newest member has a great team in its final year in the Big 12.