HN Big 10 Predictions: 11th & 10th

May 24, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Hawkeyenation.com Publisher & Founder Jon Miller will countdown his 2010 Big Ten Conference predictions this week, leading up to Friday’s ‘reveal’ of whom he thinks will win it all and play in the 2011 Rose Bowl…or perhaps the national title game.  Today, we begin with the teams Miller think’s will be in the cellar this coming season.

#11 INDIANA 0-8 in Big Ten play, 4-8 overall:  The Hoosiers return eight starters from their Pistol offensive attack from one year ago which at times proved to be effective.  They had Michigan on the ropes at the Big House and had a double-digit lead at Iowa to start the fourth quarter, but lost both games.  They scored at least 21 points in seven of eight conference games, but their big issues were on defense, where they allowed at least 29 points in their seven conference losses.  They lose their pair of bookend defensive ends that have been successful for them in recent years, players that terrorized the Hawkeyes in Kinnick in 2007.  They return two starting defensive tackles and two defensive backs, but the other seven players are gone.  Perhaps that is good news for a defense that wasn’t very good last year, but I am not counting on that.

Quarterback Ben Chappell returns as does every skill position player on the team.  Their offense should still be somewhat of a concern, especially if they get anything out of their defense or if a team is in a giving mood as the Hawkeyes were through three quarters last year (five turnovers).  Chappell had 428 passing attempts last year and threw 17 touchdown passes and over 2900 yards, but he also had 15 interceptions, among the most in the nation.  Receiver Tandon Doss is back, along with running back Darius Willis.  Both of their kicking specialists return as well.

In my opinion, their best chance is against Northwestern at home, but I think by that point in time the Wildcats offense should be too much for the Hoosiers to handle, so it’s going to be another long year in Bloomington and it might be the last year for coach Bill Lynch.  I have them winning all four of their out of conference games…good thing for cupcakes.

#10 MINNESOTA 1-7 in Big Ten play, 3-8 overall:  The Golden Gophers return all but two starters on offense, but those are two key losses; tight end Nick Tow-Arnett and his 37 receptions and receiver Eric Decker and his injury shortened 50 receptions.  Decker was nicked up in each of the last two seasons, and the simple fact is that Minnesota’s offense was not the same from that point on.  Yes, they did bust out for 42 points against Michigan State after Decker was injured against Ohio State, but the Spartans were coming off their devastating loss to Iowa and basically everything they thought they were going to play for in the preseason had been taken away from them after the loss to Iowa.  The next game, the Gophers scored 32 points but lost to Minnesota.  That’s when their offense went into the tank and touchdowns were hard to come by.  They beat South Dakota 16-13 and lost at Iowa 12-0, then lost their bowl game against Iowa State 14-13.

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Decker was their offense the past two years, so one of the big questions facing them this year is ‘what are they going to do without their security blanket?’

Another question is what in the heck are they going to do on defense?  They lose their entire starting front seven and both corners, and one of their returning safeties has had some off field issues this past year.  Minnesota’s defense was hardly an immovable object last year, ranking 63rd in total defense.  However, given their defensive numbers in recent years, that’s not too bad for them.  I think it’s safe to say those numbers are going to go south this year, which is bad news for a team that is still searching for its offensive identity after leaving the indoor confines of the Metrodome and moving to a more balanced power rushing game from their indoor spread look.

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Head Coach Tim Brewster recently said that Adam Weber would be the starting quarterback to start the season.  He holds every Minnesota passing record and will be a fourth year starer.  MarQueis Gray is waiting in the wings, and if he can develop a competent throwing arm over the summer, you figure he coul become the starter at some point in time, because Brewster may be singing for his supper this year at Minnesota.

The program has not moved forward from where Glen Mason had it; it’s gone in the other direction.  Brewster’s antics have also not panned out and those quirks have made him more of a target for criticism at this stage of his program.  I don’t see things working out for them this year, and I believe this will be Brewster’s last year on the Minnesota sidelines.  I am not a big Brewster fan, but I like having him in Minneapolis, because as long as he is there, the Gophers are nothing to worry about.

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I have them beating Northwestern at home for their lone win, but that could prove to be a bad pick.  I have them losing to USC and Northern Illinois in the non-conference.

COMING TUESDAY: teams nine, eight and seven

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