Spring Picks: Big Ten Power Ranking

May 5, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Yesterday, I posted my rough and early thoughts/predictions on the Big Ten Legends and Leaders Divisions…click on those links to see each.

In this item, I will post what I view as my ‘power ranking’ for the league, akin to what I do each and every Sunday night during the football season. This is how I view the teams if we were talking neutral sites as of right now and does not factor in schedules…it’s the Big Ten Conference 1 through 12 for the first time.

1. Ohio State: You gotta beat the man to be the man and nobody’s beaten Ohio State for a trophy in six years.  I think they win a 7th straight title in Indy come December
2. Nebraska: The Huskers make it to Indy for the first ever Big Ten Conference Championship game the way they did for the first Big 12 title game in 1996. Same result; a loss
3. Michigan State: It’s not a great team, but probably one of the Top 30 teams in the nation. Their running game will be very good making play action lethal for Kirk Cousins
4. Penn State: I think their offense has a bounce back season because of more consistent play at the quarterback position. Their defense gets the benefit of the doubt.
5. Iowa: A lot of questions to answer on defense, but this offense is going to be overlooked by most pundits before the season starts. They will make noise.
6. Wisconsin: If I factored in schedules here, Wisconsin would be one notch higher. Quarterback is a HUGE unknown for them.
7. Northwestern: I have been way off on my Northwestern preseason picks for years, never believing. If Persa stays healthy all year, they finish higher than this slot.
8. Michigan: Because they are not coached by Rich Rod or Ron Zook
9. Illinois: Because they are
10. Purdue: I had a notion to put them higher on this list but they are too tough to figure right now
11. Indiana: New coach, new system, not a lot of talent
12. Minnesota: Ditto

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What this year’s Big Ten season may lack in the way of powerhouse teams, it won’t lack for drama week to week. There are so many teams that are bunched together right now on paper that one late INT or fumble is going to decide a lot of football games in 2011. I really don’t think there is a WORLD of difference between teams 3-9, as if each of those teams can answer a few questions in the affirmative, they can challenge for their division.

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COACH OF THE YEAR: Bo Pelini. He doesn’t have any history here and if they win the Legends Division, which I pick them to, he’ll win this.
COACH MOST LIKELY TO BE FIRED: Jim Tressel. Hard to believe I am writing that but I think there is a decent chance he won’t coach another game for The Ohio State University
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Northwestern Quarterback Dan Persa. Before his injury against Iowa, he was going to be right in the mix for this honor in 2010
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jared Crick, DL Nebraska. He’ll help the Huskers give a big Blackshirts welcome to the Big Ten
GAMES OF THE YEAR: Nebraska at Wisconsin; first Big 10 game for Huskers–Ohio State at Nebraska; first game back for the Tattoo Five–Iowa at Nebraska; possible play in game for Indy
BONEHEADED COACHING MOVE OF THE YEAR: Ron Zook will do something to earn this ignominious nod.
FIRST FAN BASE MELTDOWN: September 17th after Ohio State loses at Miami of Ohio…or Buckeye fans before then if Tressel gets canned

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