I have said in the past that if I were only allowed to buy one preseason college football magazine, it would be Phil Steele’s.
I just picked up a copy of this year’s edition and there was a major, major head scratcher for me on the first page.
Steele picks Wisconsin to win the Big Ten title game over Nebraska. I don’t have much issue with that, although I don’t expect Danny O’Brien to be anywhere near Russell Wilson. But he has the Sugar Bowl taking Michigan State. Steele has the Huskers, Wolverines and Spartans tying for the Legends with Nebraska going to the Outback and Michigan to the Cap One with Nebraska winning the three way tiebreaker due to a softer OOC schedule and better record there.
While I do not wager, if I could place a bet against MSU getting an at large BCS selection to the Sugar Bowl, I’d lay down $1,000 right now against that not happening. They have been a poor traveling school and have that reputation.
As for Iowa, Steele picks them to face South Carolina in the Gator Bowl. That may sound like Steele is more optimistic on Iowa’s 2012 season than I am, but you need to think about it a little deeper.
Ohio State is not bowl eligible this year, so that is going to give a bump to several Big Ten teams in the bowl hierarchy. If the Big Ten also gets two teams into the BCS, there is your ‘two-up’ bump as well. Last year, the Gator Bowl brought in 6-6 Ohio State. Now, there were circumstances relating to Penn State and their off the field baggage that caused the Gator to pass on them with a much better record. That likely won’t be a factor this year as it relates to Penn State’s bowl destination. The Gator picks after the Cap One and Outback but before the Insight this year, as the Insight and Gator bowls alternate positions. And yes, I realize it’s not the Insight Bowl any more. Steele picks PSU to go to that Tempe area bowl game.
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In looking over Steele’s four All American teams on offense and defense, there isn’t a Hawkeye in sight…I may have to go back through my old editions to find the last time this was the case.
Steele ranks the Big Ten as the fourth toughest league this year, behind the SEC, Big 12 and Pac 12.
Steele’s highest rated team from the Big Ten is Wisconsin at 9th, followed by Ohio State at 11th, Nebraska 17th, Michigan State 19th, Michigan 22nd and Iowa 38th.
Steele has Ohio State & Wisconsin tying in the Leaders, but Wisconsin will represent that division in the title game due to Ohio State being ineligible to play in the title game due to their bowl ban. He says PSU will have a losing season in Big Ten play.
Steele has Iowa 4th in the Legends Division but calls them a legit darkhorse contender with a real shot at a 5-0 start. He rates their schedule 68th in the nation, which is also the most favorable of any of the teams in the Big Ten.
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Steele boasts on the cover of his magazine that it has been the most accurate 14 years running, and you can read a little more about that here.
If you want a reminder on how Steele viewed Iowa last year, click here for our recap.
At under $10 after tax, I think it’s a worthy buy…it’s simply been the best college football reference for me during my time in the media and I always had it by my side when I did radio programs in the fall.