Big League Clu previews the Big 10 Conference for the 2013 college football season.
On to our next conference! As we continue where I left off on this glorious conference by conference breakdown of college football’s best, we now shift our focus to the Big Ten Conference. Because time is of the essence, I will only be talking about some of the bigger stories of 2012 from each conference, but don’t worry! I am going to be revisiting the other schools later on, so you wont miss a thing.
Follow the Leaders
Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0, did not play in postseason bowl due to being on probation)
Let’s welcome Ohio State back from their post-season ban, everyone! After going undefeated in their last season of probation, they come into this season ranked #2 in the nation and, of course, have huge expectations for the 2013 campaign. One of the most talked about players this off-season is Freshman RB Dontre Wilson, who is supposed to be a of freak of nature. He was originally committed to Oregon, but due to the departure of Chip Kelly and potential looming sanctions at the university, he jumped ship and decided to join Urban Meyer’s camp in Columbus instead. The Buckeyes are instant favorites in the Big 10, and are preseason favorites to contend for a national championship.
Penn State Nittany Lions (8-4, did not play in postseason bowl due to being on probation)
Well, they are the big Elephant in the room, so we might as well talk about it. Second year head coach Bill O’Brien says that the “top end” of his Nittany Lions roster is about the same from last year. Take it one step further… some people could argue that this group, who won 8 of their last 10 games mind you, was one of the better teams in the Big 10 last season. But, when you look at the other end of the roster, boy oh boy, you better hope some of those starters don’t get hurt. Because of the NCAA sanctions laid down by the whole Paterno/Sandusky scandal, and heavy graduation losses, Penn State will have 65 players under scholarship in 2013. Now, you may think that this is more than plenty for a FBS college football school, but just to give you a comparison, the average amount of scholarships given other DI schools is about 85. The rest of the roster is composed of walk-ons (or “run-ons” as O’Brien has deemed them), many of whom are freshmen. Keeping the veterans healthy will be the most important goal for the PSU coaching staff if they want to continue the winning tradition in Happy Valley.
As a side note, my final opinion on the whole Jerry Sandusky scandal is as follows: It is a shame that it happened and the whole cover up that took place is even more disgusting. I feel that the NCAA took the correct approach in handing down its sanctions. However, I am conflicted in the sense that I feel the student athletes should not be punished for previous incidents that happened 10-15 years ago.
Its all about the legends in 2013
Michigan Wolverines (8-5, 6-2 in Big 10)
Depth is clearly better this year, as the Wolverines now have stability, much due to three years of hard work under the head coach Brady Hoke and his coordinators. With the departure of Denard Robinson to the NFL, junior Quarterback Devin Gardner now takes the helm. Gardner impressed his peers with his solid performances when he took over for an ailing Robinson late last season. Many wondered if Hoke was playing the wrong guy even before Robinson had gotten hurt. Overall, team has all the ingredients to win, but ultimately will not be successful unless the running game steps up. Luckily for them, they have an experienced RB in senior Fitzgerald Toussaint, who can keep defenses on their toes.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-4, 7-1 in Big 10)
With two years in the Big 10 under their belts, what can we expect form the Cornhuskers? Well for starters, they are coming off of their first undefeated season at home since 2001. They also won the Legends division, but all anyone remembers is the 70-31 shellacking they were handed by Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game. That loss overshadowed all of their other accomplishments from 2012. Nebraska will boast one of the nation’s best offenses, which is led by veteran quarterback Taylor Martinez (2871 yards passing, 1019 yards rushing, 33 total touchdowns) and junior running back Ameer Abdullah (1137 yards rushing). They have a chance to erase those painful title game memories.
Northwestern Wildcats (10-3, 5-3 in Big 10)
Definitely a bit of a surprise out of the Big 10 last season, Northwestern managed to win 10 games and break their 9 game bowl losing streak. In fact, the last time they had won a bowl game came alllll the way back in the 1948 Rose Bowl, when Pappy Waldorf was leading the Wildcats on to the field (Pappy!). The key to their success in 2013 will be with their running attack, which will be led by the duo of Senior running back Venric Mark and QB Kain Colter. Venric had a solid season in 2012, running for nearly 1400 yards, and he took it to the house a dozen times. I mean in all honesty, with a name like Venric you should be stud at running back. Kain Colter also did his part running the ball. He ran for a solid 800 yards and added another 12 rushing touchdowns. It’s no wonder why the wildcats rushing attack was ranked 19th in the nation.
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