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HN's PICK: 2010 Big 10 Champ

May 30, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

If you have missed the rest of Jon Miller’s 2010 Big Ten predictions this week, click on the links below.

10th & 11th
8th & 9th
6th & 7th
3rd, 4th & 5th

T-1 IOWA & OHIO STATE

If you’re reading this and are an Iowa fan, there isn’t much more about the team that I can tell you right now outside of what you already know. For those reading this through google searches, and general college football blog sharing, and there are a lot of folks that do that, here’s my quick Hawkeye take.

-Possibly the best defensive line in the nation, definitely the best defensive line in the Big Ten
-Defense will be one of the ten best in the nation
-Return both kicking specialists and the punter that Mel Kiper ranks as the best among the senior class
-Rick Stanzi returns at quarterback, will be a third year starter and is 18-4 as the Iowa starting signal caller
-Return three capable and good running backs, all sophomores
-Return the receiver that may own the Iowa record for receptions and yards midway through this season, as well as a receiving tandem that may wind up being one of the best in school history
-Must replace three starters on the offensive line, but return three players that started at times last year

In short, it’s a pretty good team…worthy of Top Ten consideration this season.

Now, for Ohio State…the Buckeyes return nine starters on offense; they lose TE Jake Ballard and and OL Jim Cordle.  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is back at quarterback, and he was also the team’s leading rusher last year, gaining 779 yards on the ground.  He threw for roughly 2100 yards and had 18 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 13 games.  Their running back tandem is also capable: Herron and Saine and pray for rain to borrow an old saying with new names.  Brandon Saine averaged 5.1 yards per carry and Dan ‘Boom’ Herron averaged around four yards per carry and can pound out the tough yards.

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On defense, the Buckeyes return just five starters, but that includes defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, an All American candidate.  When I was writing this and thinking back to last year’s Ohio State defense, I didn’t remember a unit that was a steel wall, not like the better defenses the Buckeyes have had in the 2000’s.

But when you take a closer look back at the statistics as a refresher, you might be surprised to be reminded that they were #5 in total defense, #5 in scoring defense and #7 in rushing defense nationally.  It’s encouraging to think that their defense might be a step or two off this year, but we have seen the Buckeyes reload on that side of the ball too many times to be suckered into believing we’ll see anything less than a formidable unit, especially by the time the Hawkeyes host the Buckeyes in late November.

At this point in their respective schedules, I have Iowa 9-1 overall and 5-1 in the league.  That would  have them ranked inside the Top Ten, maybe 5th, 6th or 7th.  I have Ohio State 10-0 and 6-0 in the conference, which would likely have them ranked #1 in the nation, no worse than #2.

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If this comes to pass, you would have arguably the biggest game in Kinnick Stadium since the Wisconsin game in 2004..wait, bigger than that…go back to #1 Iowa vs #2 Michigan in 1985…but that was game seven of the season.  Given that I think Iowa will beat Minnesota in the regular season finale, that means the Rose Bowl would be on the line…or perhaps even more than that.  If Iowa were to beat Ohio State, entering the game with a 9-1 record, and finish the year 11-1, you are talking about the Hawkeyes knocking on the door of the BCS National Title game…that might not be enough to get them in, but they would be in the discussion. I haven’t finished my win-loss projections for every BCS team along with Boise State & TCU…I will be doing that during the month of June and come back to address this in early July.

Which is what I think will happen…I think Iowa loses one game, finishes 11-1 and receive’s the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the Rose Bowl by virtue of beating Ohio State.  I have Iowa’s one loss at Michigan…I think they can win that game, but then they might lose another.  I just don’t think they will run the table, but they can.  They could also go 8-4 if the offensive line doesn’t develop.  Last year, Iowa won 11 games, with the UNI, Michigan State and Indiana games being white knuckler’s…throw in Michigan, too as that was a two-point game (I know, the pick six).

Iowa       7-1 (11-1)* Rose Bowl (haven’t looked at nation yet to see if they would be 1 or 2)
Ohio St   7-1 (11-1) Sugar Bowl (haven’t looked at nation yet to see which conference 1 or 2 comes from for at large selection order)
PSU       6-2 (9-3) Outback Bowl
Michigan 5-3 (9-3) Capital One Bowl
Wisky     5-3 (9-3) Gator Bowl
MSU       4-4 (8-4) Insight Bowl
Illinois     4-4 (6-6) Texas Bowl
NW         2-6 (5-7)
Purdue    3-5 (6-6) Dallas Bowl
MINN      1-7 (3-9)
Indiana    0-8 (4-8)

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The Big Ten will not have enough teams to fill out the Little Ceasar’s Bowl

So there you have it…my best guess at the 2010 Big Ten standings…we’ll check back in on this in August after team’s have had a chance to get to work and factor in any injuries.  In case you are wondering how I fared at this last year, here were my picks:
1. Ohio State
t2. Iowa
t2. Illinois
t2. Michigan State
5. Penn State
t6. Northwestern
t6. Wisconsin
8. Minnesota
9. Michigan
10. Purdue
11. Indiana

Here was the magazine consensus prediction from last year:

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Michigan State
4. Iowa
5. Illinois
6. Wisconsin
7. Michigan
8. Northwestern
9. Minnesota
10. Purdue
11. Indiana

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