Here we are again! Another amazing year of knock-down, drag-out, all-weather football. It’s Big Ten football! I think the fans are ready to show off their pride! The teams are ready to strap it up and battle it out to see who will hold up that the Stagg Champion Trophy in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana to be crowned as the 2019 Big Ten Champions. Will the Buckeyes of Ohio State repeat as Champions from a year ago? Will Jim Harbaugh bring a championship back to Ann Arbor? Can the Hawkeyes reign Supreme? Or can Jonathan Taylor carry the Wisconsin Badgers to a championship?
Here’s an in depth preview/prediction for 2019. It’s just a prediction so fans… So don’t be too harsh. Teams, Schedules, Stand-out players, Game-changing coaches, Surprises, Let downs and more coming your way. I hope you all enjoy! I hope I can bring the intensity in this passage as much as the season will. If you love Big Ten football stay tuned and please continue reading! If not, I hope I can persuade you to become one be reading this… so here we go!
It’s been a rough go for Head Coach, Lovie Smith, the last couple of years. Only combining for 9 wins in the past three seasons. In 2019, things are looking up in Champaign, IL. New faces, new coaches, and some pretty good recruits and transfers for a bottom-of-a-barrel Big Ten West team in 2018. Incoming freshman, Isaiah Williams (No, it’s not Juice Williams, Illini fans). This is a kid with a strong arm and a set of wheels on him that can cause defenders to look silly and leave everyone in the dust. Half back, Reggie Corbin looks to lead the way in the ground game for the Illini returning for his senior season after breaching 1,000 yards last season.
The Defense look to slow down opposing offenses after being one of the worst defenses in the nation a year ago. Graduate transfer defensive lineman, Oluwole Betiku, a former USC Trojan, will look to make his presence felt immediately to cause disruption to opposing offenses. The secondary has a lot of experience so the only way for this defense to go is up. This is a warning for the other thirteen Big Ten teams. Do not sleep on these guys this year. Will they win the West division? Probably not. But, can they make some noise and win some ball games they shouldn’t? Hard Yes!
Players to watch: RB, Reggie Corbin. QB, Isaiah Williams. LB, Jake Hansen. CB, Nate Hobbs
Aug. 31 vs Akron Oct. 19 vs Wisconsin
Sept. 7 @ UConn Oct. 26 @ Purdue
Sept. 14 vs Eastern Mich. Nov. 2 vs Rutgers
Sept. 21 vs Nebraska Nov. 9 @ Michigan State
Oct. 5 @ Minnesota Nov. 23 @ Iowa
Oct. 12 vs Michigan Nov. 30 vs Northwestern
Bold Prediction: Illinois will be in the conversation for competing for a bowl game.
Dream: (7-5) record with upsets over Wisconsin and Iowa.
Nightmare: (2-10) record dropping the opener set the tone for the season.. only getting wins over Eastern Michigan and a close one against Rutgers.
Reality: (5-7) record with a solid 3-0 start to the season and conference wins over Minnesota and Rutgers.
After signing their best recruiting class ever, the Indiana Hoosiers come into 2019 with the 39th best recruiting class in the country. They also have the 8thbest recruiting class in the Big Ten. Just a second, what does that say about the Big Ten?… But the Hoosiers are quietly making moves. Indiana has predominately resided on the lower tier of the Big Ten. Tom Allen, has been on the brink of bowl eligibility going into the last week of the season, the past 2 seasons.
In-state rival, Purdue, has primarily been the Hoosiers kryptonite. Redshirt freshman QB, Jack Tuttle, a transfer from Utah, has hopefully given the Indiana Hoosiers some light and a hope for a step in the right direction to bring a winning season back to Bloomington. The Hoosiers have the talent to stir the pot but, that being said they are stuck in the East Division with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.
Players to watch: QB, Jack Tuttle. QB Micheal Penix Jr. LB/Saf, Marcelino Ball, K, Logan Justus
Aug 31 (ns) vs Ball St Oct. 19 @ Maryland
Sept. 7 vs Eastern Ill. Oct. 26 @ Nebraska
Sept. 14 vs Ohio St. Nov. 2 vs Northwestern
Sept. 21 vs UConn Nov. 16 @ Penn St.
Sept. 28 @ Michigan St. Nov. 23 vs Michigan
Oct. 12 vs Rutgers Nov. 30 @ Purdue
Bold Prediction: Tom Allen will have to wait another year to compete for a bowl game.
Dream: (7-5) record by beating Purdue to seal a bowl birth for Tom Allen and the Hoosiers
Nightmare: (1-11) record dropping week 2 against FCS opponent Eastern Illinois University and continues on that path for the rest of the season.
Reality: Finish with a disappointing (4-8) record putting Head Coach, Tom Allen on the Hot Seat.
There’s a trend Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes tend to uphold. It’s called Winning. In the 19 years, Kirk Ferentz has been the head honcho, the Hawkeyes have played in 15 bowl games. That means you can just about reserve a bowl game for the Iowa Hawkeyes on a yearly basis. But, let’s not get carries away here. Kirk Ferentz has not led the Hawkeyes to an outright Big Ten Championship.
Although, fell just short in 2015 to Michigan State in a defensive masterpiece by both teams. The 2019 Hawkeyes look to use their experience and their physical-natured balanced attack against their opposition at full force. QB, Nate Stanley is a stand out quarterback in the Big Ten. He is looked at as one of the top passers in Big Ten, if not the in the whole country. Mehki Sargent and Toren Young look to unleash the ground and pound on opposing defenses. Two of the countries best Tight Ends, T.J. Hockensen and Noah Fant are no longer with the Iowa Hawkeyes, as they declared for the NFL draft. With these two outstanding pass catchers gone, the passing game for Iowa could take a hit but, two wide receivers like, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith should have no problem picking up the slack.
On the defensive side of the ball, one of the most feared pass rushers in all of college football will be wreaking havoc in the Big Ten. A.J. Epenesa is his name. Big #94 is a monster in the trenches. The Hawkeyes return 3 starters in the secondary giving them the experience they need. There are question marks at the linebacker position after former MLB, Jack Hockaday graduated a year ago. The Iowa defense may have lost some star power but, will likely reload and be a force to be reckon with.
Player to watch: QB, Nate Stanley. HB Mehki Sargent. DE, A.J. Epenesa. WR, Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Aug 31 vs Miami (OH) Oct 19 vs Purdue
Sept 7 vs Rutgers Oct 26 @ Northwestern
Sept 14 @ Iowa State Nov 9 @ Wisconsin
Sept 28 vs Midd Tenn Nov 16 vs Minnesota
Oct 5 @ Michigan Nov 23 vs Illinois
Oct 12 vs Penn St. Nov 29 @ Nebraska
Bold Prediction: Iowa will win the Big Ten West division.
Dream: (11-1) record and Win the Big Ten Championship.
Nightmare: a disappointing (5-7) season with a brutal schedule.
Reality: (9-3) finish. Iowa is solid from top to bottom. It seems like another one of those years for Iowa making some noise all across the country.
The University of Maryland football program has been under fire since before the start of the 2018 season in the light of the passing of former offensive line Jordan McNair. Maryland has not had much luck since being added into the Big Ten in 2014. It holds a very disappointing record of (25-37).
After the firing of former head coach DJ Durkin, Matt Canada took the reigns as an interim hire in 2018 but, was not rehired to continue. Mike Locksley, a former Alabama assistant, was hired as the head coach for the Terrapins. Virginia Tech transfer, QB, Josh Jackson looks to become an immediate difference maker for the team. Anthony McFarland Jr. who broke the 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman running back looks to make an impact as well, making them a pretty dynamic duo in the back field for the Terrapins. The offense brings a lot of speed that could cause some mismatches for defenses.
The defense is the question mark for the 2019 season. Antoine Brooks Jr., an All-Big Ten nickel back, will be the leader of this mostly inexperienced defense. Defensive End, Keandre Jones, a transfer from Ohio State, look to be an immediate threat for opposing offenses. The biggest question the Maryland Terrapins needs to answer is, “How can we be able to continue the pride and quality of this program through the hardship and misfortune?” Maryland almost stole one from the Buckeyes late last season by grazing the fingertips of what would have been the game-winning two-point conversion. Maryland lost 53-52 in overtime, which could have given life to a program that was already knocked down and beaten.
Players to watch: QB, Josh Jackson. RB, Anthony McFarland Jr. Saf, Antoine Brooks Jr. DE, Keandre Jones
Aug 31 vs Howard Oct 19 vs Indiana
Sept 7 vs Syracuse Oct 26 @ Minnesota
Sept 14 @ Temple Nov 2 vs Michigan
Sept 27 vs Penn State Nov 9 @ Ohio State
Oct 5 @ Rutgers Nov 23 vs Nebraska
Oct 12 @ Purdue Nov 30 @ Michigan State
Bold Prediction: Maryland will avenge last year’s overtime loss to Ohio State on November 9th.
Dream: A great season for the University, finishing with an (8-4) record.
Nightmare: A very disappointing (3-9) season for a struggling program at the moment.
Reality: A bowl bound (6-6) team Mike Locksley begins to mold in the right direction.
The Maize and Blue. One of the most Iconic helmets to be worn by any team all across the nation, if not the most iconic. A team that is chomping at the bit for a Big Ten Championship. This team has been on the cusp of being a juggernaut in college football again. Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh leads his very own Wolverines out on a mission again in 2019. 2 objectives. Beat Ohio State. Bring home a championship to Ann Arbor. At this point, Harbaugh is desperate for his Alma Mater. His 5thyear at the helm and nothing really to show besides a bunch of wins and a lackluster 1-3 bowl record to dim the light a little.
Shea Patterson comes out for his senior year to lead the team with elite talent all across the board. Patterson will also be protected by one of the most talented Offensive lines in the Big Ten, if not in all of college football. While returning 16 total starts back in 2019. Exactly, ¼ of those starters are offensive lineman.
Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins return as prolific wide receivers. The only question would be to find a Running back. A fast-paced, no-huddle type offense is the tempo in Ann-Arbor this year. One slight adjustment to a scheme can either make or break a season. With as much talent is on this roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a change in the right direction instead of the wrong one.
There were some very meaningful losses on defense for the Wolverines. LB, Devin Bush. DL, Rashan Gary. OLB, Chase Winovich. All huge shoes to fill. I’m sure if won’t be too difficult having the only Big Ten team in the Top 10 for best recruiting class in all of college football. Is 2019 Harbaugh’s year? Or will they fall just short and watch Ohio State raise the trophy again?
Players to watch: QB, Shea Patterson. WR, Nico Collins, LB/DL Josh Uche. RB, Christian Turner. RB, Tru Wilson
Aug 31 vs Midd Tenn Oct 19 @ Penn State
Sept 7 vs Army Oct 26 vs Notre Dame
Sept 21 @ Wisconsin Nov 2 @ Maryland
Sept 28 vs Rutgers Nov 16 vs Michigan State
Oct 5 vs Iowa Nov 23 @ Indiana
Oct 12 @ Illinois Nov 30 vs Ohio State
Bold Prediction: Michigan will beat Ohio State in 2019.
Dream: This team has the talent and coaching to go (12-0) and find themselves in the College Football Playoff
Nightmare: A (7-5) record that puts Harbaugh on the hotseat at his own Alma Mater. Ohio State puts a beating on them.
Reality: a (10-2) record with the only loss recorded by a Big Ten West division opponent.
2018 did not go the way the Spartans wanted 2018 to go. Injuries, let downs, and missed opportunities. Mark Dantonio knows his team’s abilities. The Spartans are known to have a tenacious defense that flies around and smacks you in the mouth as well as an offense that is a slowed paced, ground and pound attack. In the recent years, Dantonio has changed the offensive scheme to a faster paced spread offense.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke has been the leader of this Michigan State offense. A shoulder injury in last years Penn State game sidelined Lewerke. His fearless mentality pushed himself to play through the pain but, he just wasn’t the same. Michigan State’s offense became even more stagnant. Although, Michigan State’s offense was troubled with injuries and was inconsistent, The Spartan’s defense was very good if not, elite. Led by First Team All-Big Ten LB, Joe Bachie and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, Kenny Willikes look to punish opposing offenses and solidify a reason to fear playing against the Green and White.
The 2019 Michigan State Spartans have plenty of experience charging in from last season. Injuries were a huge factor in last year’s disappointing (7-6) finish. But the experience in the depth chart should be a key reason why the Michigan State Spartans will be a dangerous team to play against in 2019.
Players to watch: QB, Brian Lewerke. WR, Cody White. LB, Joe Bachie, DL, Kenny Willikes. CB, Josiah Scott
Aug 30 vs Tulsa Oct 12 @ Wisconsin
Sept 7 vs Western Michigan Oct 26 vs Penn State
Sept 14 vs Arizona State Nov 9 vs Illinois
Sept 21 @ Northwestern Nov 16 @ Michigan
Sept 28 vs Indiana Nov 23 @ Rutgers
Oct 5 @ Ohio State Nov 30 vs Maryland
Bold Prediction: The Spartans will go undefeated in Spartan Stadium.
Dream: Michigan State charges their way to a (10-2) record and will play in the Big Ten Championship game for the West Division.
Nightmare: Finishes (6-6) as injuries and stagnant offense once again haunt the Spartans
Reality: Brian Lewerke sparks the offense, and Joe Bachie leads a fierce, physical defense to an impressive (9-3) record and will ruin either Ohio State’s or Michigan’s if not both of their chances to play in the Big Ten Championship game.
P.J. Fleck is trying to put the Minnesota Golden Gophers football program back on the map! In the early 2000’s it was a regular thing to see the Gophers ranked in the top 25 but, now it’s very rare to see. P.J. Fleck comes into his third season after a dominating (34-10 F) Quick Lane Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. The Gophers rang in a (7-6) overall record with a very young team. The Gophers had two sophomore quarterbacks that played serious roles in the Gopher’s success last season.
The season starter was Zack Annexstad who went down to injury in a tough week 7 loss to Ohio State. Tanner Morgan the other sophomore quarterback took over and finished out the year (4-2) as the starter carrying the Gophers to a bowl game victory. The skilled positions on the offensive side of the ball have a tremendous amount of depth and experience that could be a huge factor in 2019. Last October was not a good month for the Gopher’s defense.
In 4 games, the Gophers gave up 162 points. Not good. Fleck said enough was enough and fired Defensive Coordinator, Robb Smith. Joe Rossi took over at DC and hasn’t looked back. Rossi shaped his defense, who only allowed 59 point the rest of the season. Rossi stamped his spot as permanent Defensive Coordinator by beating Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 1994. Carter Coughlin a very talented defensive end and the return of Antoine Winfield Jr. look to be the leader of this Golden Gopher Defense. The Big Ten West division looks to be up for grabs as these teams continue to look better and get better.
Player to watch: QB, Zack Annexstad. QB, Tanner Morgan. WR, Tyler Johnson. RB, Mohamed Ibrahim. SAF, Antoine Winfield Jr.
Aug 29 vs South Dakota State Oct 19 @ Rutgers
Sept 7 @ Fresno State Oct 26 vs Maryland
Sept 14 vs Georgia Southern Nov 9 vs Penn State
Sept 28 @ Purdue Nov 16 @ Iowa
Oct 5 vs Illinois Nov 23 @ Northwestern
Oct 12 vs Nebraska Nov 30 vs Wisconsin
Bold Prediction: Joe Rossi’s defense finishes top 10 best in the country.
Dream: A surprising (10-2) record and goes undefeated in west division game play and plays in the Big Ten Championship game
Nightmare: S. Dakota State is not slouch and proves it. That unfolds an upsetting pattern that leaves P.J. Fleck on the Hot seat by finishing (3-9)
Reality: Believe it or not the Golden Gophers will be tough for anyone in the Big Ten. November will be huge difference maker. Minnesota finishes at (7-5) overall.
One of college football’s giants have been down and out the past couple years. Scott Frost has a mindset and the formula to bring Nebraska back to where they should be. Scott Frost has one of the most prolific Sophomores in all of college football at quarterback in 2019. Adrian Martinez. As a freshman he averaged a school record, 295 yards per game by himself. That’s ridiculous. As far as the other weapons the Huskers have on the offensive side of the ball are WR, J.D. Spielman and TE Jack Stoll. A transfer running back Dedrick Mills and also another transfer Kanawai Noa from Cal. Scott Frost also has a mission for his defense to step up in a huge way.
Mohamed Barry will be the leader of the defense with two sets of brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis and Darrion and Damion Daniels all four provide experience by molding this Nebraska Defensive front into a fearsome group. Lamar Jackson and Dicaprio Bootle are young but, experience cornerbacks for this defense. Scott Frost has got a plan in place. After taking this Nebraska head coaching, realizing he left an undefeated University of Central Florida squad. He chose Nebraska as an opportunity to wake back up the sleeping giant that college football misses. He knows he has what it takes to bring this once was, juggernaut, back to life. Adrian Martinez is the start of what could be something special could be brewing in Lincoln.
Player to watch: QB, Adrian Martinez. WR, J.D. Spielman. LB, Mohamed Barry. RB, Dedrick Mills
Aug 31 vs South Alabama Oct 12 @ Minnesota
Sept 7 @ Colorado Oct 26 vs Indiana
Sept 14 vs Northern Illinois Nov 2 @ Purdue
Sept 21 @ Illinois Nov 16 vs Wisconsin
Sept 28 vs Ohio State Nov 23 @ Maryland
Oct 5 vs Northwestern Nov 29 vs Iowa
Bold Prediction: Adrian Martinez will be a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy.
Dream: Scott Frost wake up the sleeping giant after going 4-8 the last couple years to an astounding (10-2) record
Nightmare: The sleeping giant in Lincoln, Nebraska stay asleep and finishes 2019 with a disastrous (3-9) record
Reality: Scott Frost has high hopes for his Huskers. With Adrian Martinez leading the pack and experience across the board on both sides of the ball. The Huskers reverse their record from 4-8 to (8-4) and will only be getting better from here on out.
Pat Fitzgerald. The face of the Northwestern football. As a player, Fitzgerald played Middle Linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-nineties and the led them to a Big Ten championship and to the Rose bowl. Pat Fitzgerald has built, shaped, and molded the brand of Northwestern Wildcat football. In 2006, Pat Fitzgerald got hired to be the head coach at his Alma Mater. He and his Wildcats have scratched and clawed their way through the trenches. Year after year you Northwestern moving up the ranks in the Big Ten. Last year capturing their first Big Ten West title and a birth in the Big Ten Championship game against conference powerhouse Ohio State. Although the Wildcats fell short of a championship, it goes to show that the Northwestern Wildcats are becoming a household name in the Big Ten.
Ever since Pat Fitzgerald has stepped foot on campus in Evanston, the Northwestern Wildcats have done nothing but, build a stronger foundation and are becoming a feared member in the Big Ten conference. Hunter Johnson a transfer quarterback from Clemson is set to make his highly anticipated debut in week 1. A highly touted 5 star recruit is by far Fitzgerald’s most decorated recruit in his 13 years at Northwestern. Johnson looks to light a spark for Fitzgerald’s offense with depth at the wide receiver position. Isaiah Bowser looks to carry to load at the running back position who average 108 yards rushing in the final 8 games of the season.
The Wildcats defense led by feared Linebacker Paddy Fisher looks to dominate opposing offenses again. More experience and more speed should be flying around for the wildcats this fall! Fitzgerald has this Wildcats team primed for big time football and it’s up to them whether or not they want to rid themselves of being the punching bag they have been for so long and start being the fighter.
Players to watch: LB, Paddy Fisher. QB Tanner Johnson. RB, Isiah Bowser, LB, Blake Gallagher
Aug 31 @ Stanford Oct 26 vs Iowa
Sept 14 vs UNLV Nov 2 @ Indiana
Sept 21 vs Michigan St. Nov 9 vs Purdue
Sept 28 @ Wisconsin Nov 16 vs UMass
Oct 5 @ Nebraska Nov 23 vs Minnesota
Oct 18 vs Ohio State Nov 30 @ Illinois
Bold Prediction: Northwestern will have a winning record against ranked opponents in 2019.
Dream: Pat Fitzgerald leads the Wildcats to a (10-2) record. Wins the West for the second straight year and captures that elusive Big Ten Championship.
Nightmare: finishes with an unexpected (5-7) record leaving Pat Fitzgerald dumbfounded on what went wrong.
Reality: Northwestern is right where they need to be. A solid (9-3) record and a BCS bowl.
When it comes to success in the Big Ten conference who is the first team you think of? Whether you like it or not, it’s the Ohio State Buckeyes. With an all-time record of (910-325). Yeah, that’s pretty successful if you ask me. Year after year Ohio State continues to rack up double-digit win seasons. Quick Fact: The Buckeyes have never lost more than 7 games in a single season. That’s even since the year, 1890. It’s 2019, Adam Day is the head man and this Ohio State Buckeyes team still looks to continue down this dominate path. Justin Fields, a transfer from Georgia, should be suiting up as QB1 on game day looks to fill the shoes of last year’s QB1, Dwayne Haskins. Those shoes amassed 4,800 yards passing and 50 touchdowns in 2018. Justin Fields will be accompanied by Heisman candidate, J.K. Dobbins, who is one of the most talented half backs in the nation, in the back field.
The Buckeyes receiving core is revamped even after losing Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin. K.J. Hill will step in as a veteran, after a season with just below 900 years receiving. The only question mark the Ohio State Buckeyes have is the Offensive line, but its Ohio State, they’ll be fine. The Buckeyes defense will still look to be a dominant force as well. Even with Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones gone. Familiar faces of Chris Young, Jonathan Cooper, and Tyreke Smith look to tear up offenses all year long. Ohio State will push its secondary. It looks to be the weak link in the chain but, time and experience will be its bandage. Overall, Ohio State will do Ohio State things. Win. In 2019, the Big Ten will be tough. From top to bottom, anybody can beat anybody.
Players to watch: QB, Justin Fields. RB, J.K. Dobbins. WR, K,J. Hill. DL, Chris Young
Aug 31 vs Florida Atlantic Oct 18 at Northwestern
Sept 7 vs Cincinnati Oct 26 Wisconsin
Sept 14 @ Indiana Nov 9 Maryland
Sept 21 vs Miami (OH) Nov 16 @ Rutgers
Sept 28 @ Nebraska Nov 23 vs Penn State
Oct 5 vs Michigan State Nov 30 @ Michigan
Bold Prediction: Ohio State will not play in the Big Ten Championship game.
Dream: Ryan Day leads the Buckeyes to an undefeated (13-0) season. Takes home 9thNational Title in school history.
Nightmare: Buckeyes finish (7-5) under first year head coach, Ryan Day. Finishes in bottom half of Big Ten East division.
Reality: Ohio State racks up another double digit win season by finishing (10-2). Drops games to Michigan State and Michigan in the Eastern division.
Historically, one of the most storied universities all-across the country. Simple but, iconic uniforms that have so much meaning to them. Navy Blue and White. The “White Out” Its’s the intimidation factor Penn State presents. Head Coach, James Franklin hosts a pretty impressive record with the Nittany Lions at (45-15). He hopes to continue that success with a bunch of new faces around. The Quarterback position is up for grabs right now with the exit of Trace McSorely. The same goes for the wide receiving unit. K.J. Hamler is the only familiar face with 42 receptions and over 750 yards in 2018. The rest, freshman and sophomores with limited experience.
The backfield is just about as young the receiving core Sophomores and Freshman. Ricky Slade will probably get the nod for the starting role but, the skilled positions for the Nittany Lions are yet to be determined. The Defensive side of the ball seems to be the more experienced side. The Nittany Lions defense led the FBS in sacks recording 3.8 per game. Defensive End, Yetur Gross-Matos will be a dominate force for the Nittany Lions putting pressure on the Quarterback. Linebacker U they call it. It seems like year after year, there fearsome set of linebackers that will likely your head off. Micah Parsons, Cam Brown, and Jan Johnson look to bring nothing less than that.
Probably the most experienced positions are in the secondary. This group is fast and physical led John Reid and Garrett Taylor. The defense is the strong suit for the Nittany Lions. The offense is the question mark. This team is young..very young, it will either hurt them or help them.Whatever the case may be James Franklin should have the Nittany Lions ready to go!
Players to watch: WR, K.J. Hamler. RB Ricky Slade. DE, Yetur Gross-Matos. LB Micah Parsons.
Aug 31 vs Idaho Oct 19 vs Michigan
Sept 7 vs Buffalo Oct 26 @ Michigan State
Sept 14 vs Pittsburgh Nov 9 @ Minnesota
Sept 27 @ Maryland Nov 16 vs Indiana
Oct 5 vs Purdue Nov 23 @ Ohio State
Oct 12 @ Iowa Nov 30 vs Rutgers
Bold Prediction: The vast youth on the roster will play are huge role in the outcome for the Nittany Lions.
Dream: James Franklin leads his Nittany Lions to a (9-3) record with a young inexperienced group.
Nightmare: The Nittany Lions are young and its shows and looks like a rebuild year as the Nittany Lions finish 2019 with a (3-9) record.
Reality: This is a young team. The vast inexperience among the roster won’t be able to hang with the ELITE and MORE experienced. The Nittany Lions finish (6-6).
The Purdue Boilermakers finished (6-7) in 2018. This wasn’t your ordinary (6-7) team that good high-level talent teams, could just walk all over. Just ask Ohio State. The Buckeyes probably thought, “Ehh..It’s just Purdue.. We’ll win.” The Ohio State Buckeyes left that Stadium that night not knowing what hit them and kept hitting them. Ohio State was one of three rank teams Purdue had beaten in 2018. A ranked #23 Boston College had no chance losing 30-13 and the third was a 38-36 shootout win against the #19 ranked in-conference rival Iowa Hawkeyes. Head Coach, Jeff Brohm has a .500 record coming into his 3rdseason as head coach. Seems a bit mediocre but, This Purdue football program is on the right track. When you recruit players like Rondale Moore, you are definitely taking a step in the right direction.
Wide Receiver, Rondale Moore, is one of the most exciting players to watch in the Big Ten, if not in the whole country. Moore amassed 2,215 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018 as a true freshman. Don’t be surprised if this kid is a candidate in the Heisman race. This is another team with young players at skilled positions. Quarterback, Elijah Sindelar has some experience from 2018 who will likely suit up as the starter. The offense will be fast and will cause mismatches. Markus Bailey, a star linebacker from 2018, returns for his senior year to lead this stout Boilermaker defense. Nine players are returning on defense, meaning experience and the talent from last year. This team will be better and the defense will be better and should not be taken lightly in 2019.
Players to watch: WR, Rondale Moore. QB, Elijah Sindelar. LB, Markus Bailey. Saf, Navon Mosley.
Aug 30 @ Nevada Oct 19 @ Iowa
Sept 7 vs Vanderbilt Oct 26 vs Illinois
Sept 14 vs TCU Nov 2 vs Nebraska
Sept 28 vs Minnesota Nov 9 @ Northwestern
Oct 5 @ Penn State Nov 23 @ Wisconsin
Oct 12 vs Maryland Nov 30 ns Indiana
Bold Prediction: Rondale Moore will win Big Ten Player of the Year.
Dream: The Boilermakers finish (8-4) and reach a bowl game for the 3rdstraight year.
Nightmare: this is an 11-player game. Rondale Moore can only do so much in this tough conference. Purdue finishes (5-7) falling just short of bowl eligibility.
Reality: Purdue is climbing the ladder but still a step or two behind the elite in this conference and finishes (7-5).
The Rutgers football program has been a disaster as for the handful of years. Rutgers has struggled since after its first year in the Big Ten. A (19-42) overall record and a (6-37) conference record. Chris Ash is on the hot seat and has been for quite some time in Pascataway, New Jersey. After a (1-11/0-9) finish last season. Ash has to find something to get the Scarlet Knights on the winning side of the football. The Knights Quarterback, Artur Sitkowski, needs to greatly improve if the Knights want to win. Sitkowski finished dead last in pass efficiency.
McClane Carter is a transfer from Texas Tech who could step in at quarterback and get the job done. Raheem Blackshear and Isaiah Pacheco will share the load in the ground game. The bright spot for this Knights offense is the running the ball. The pass protection struggled and the receiver also struggle with dropped passes and lack of seperation from defenders. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the defense looks to be a stronger asset for the Scarlet Knights. Damon Hayes a senior safety comes in as the leader of this defense. Overall, the only way for the Scarlet Knights to go is up from here. Can they start spark something to push them into the success category?
Players to watch: RB, Raheem Blackshear. RB, Isaiah Pacheco. Saf, Damon Hayes. K, Justin Davisovicz
Aug 31 vs UMass Oct 19 vs Minnesota
Sept 7 @ Iowa Oct 26 vs Liberty
Sept 21 vs Boston College Nov 2 @ Illinois
Sept 28 @ Michigan Nov 16 vs Ohio State
Oct 5 vs Maryland Nov 23 vs Michigan State
Oct 12 @ Indiana Nov 30 @ Penn State
Bold Prediction: Rutgers does not win a game against a Big Ten opponent.
Dream: Rutgers find momentum that carries them to a (6-6) record and eligibility for a playoff game
Nightmare: The Scarlet Knight fall to the lowest of lows by not winning a single game in 2019. (0-12)
Reality: Rutgers will continue to be the bottom feeders of the Big Ten, showing sign of improvement. But finish (2-10).
This is the sleeping giant in the Big Ten. An (8-5) season in 2018 was a let-down. Considering Paul Chryst has led the Badgers to (34-7) record and (3-0) in bowl games prior to 2018. Chryst tacked on 8 more wins, including a 35-3 blowout victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Pinstripe Bowl to extend his undefeated record in bowl games. Chryst now carries a (42-12) record into 2019, which is still pretty impressive.
The return of, Heisman caliber running back, Jonathan Taylor, should be a morale booster that is one of the best running backs in the country, if not the best. Taylor, who has racked up 4,171 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns makes a serious case for competing for the Heisman Trophy. Wisconsin will have their work cut out for them finding a Quarterback that has the best chance to stay consistent, in the positive category that is. The receiving core is in the same boat. Young and talented, but the inconsistent play hurt them in 2018.
Isaiahh Loudermilk look to be the leader on the defensive line. With Bryson Williams and Garrett Rand in company to provide a pretty intense pass rush. Chris Orr and Zack Baun lead the corpse of linebackers. The secondary will be young but, experienced, so that should give the Badgers some comfort on the defensive side of the ball! The key word for the Badgers in 2019 is “Consistency.” That will be the key on how successful the Wisconsin Badgers will be. Jonathan Taylor could put the rest of the Wisconsin Badgers on his shoulder and carry them this season. That could come at a cost by wearing him down and not being able to perform at top tier level at the end of the season.
Players to watch: RB, Jonathan Taylor. DL, Isaiahh Loudermilk. LB, Chris Orr. QB, Graham Mertz. QB, Jack Coan
Aug 30 @ USF Oct 19 @ Illinois
Sept 7 vs Central Michigan Oct 26 @ Ohio State
Sept 21 vs Michigan Nov 9 vs Iowa
Sept 28 Northwestern Nov 16 @ Nebraska
Oct 5 vs Kent State Nov 23 vs Purdue
Oct 12 vs Michigan State Nov 30 @ Minnesota
Bold Prediction: Paul Chryst moves to (5-0) in bowl games.
Dream: The Badgers finish (10-2) and represent the big Ten in the Rose Bowl. Jonathan Taylor stays for his senior year.
Nightmare: 2019 is not the year the Wisconsin Badgers, who finish (5-7) and don’t compete in game. Jonathan Taylor exits the program and declares for the draft.
Reality: The Wisconsin Badgers are more consistent in 2019. Finish just a step below being top tier in the Big Ten at (8-4).
After it’s all said and done, one team does not make a conference. It looks like Clemson will run through the ACC like it has done the past four years. It looks as if Alabama and Georgia will compete to see who will take the SEC. From a whole conference perspective, in 2019, the Big Ten conference looks to be the most competitive conference in all of college football. From top to bottom, teams have taken huge strides. I’m not saying that the other power 5 conferences haven’t.
The Big Ten cannibalized itself out of a College football Playoff appearance the last two seasons. The Big Ten is a gauntlet. Both, East and West divisions are up for grabs. The East looks to be the stronger of the two with Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State all on the prowl to take the Big Ten but, do not… I repeat do not take the East division lightly. Teams like Iowa, Northwestern, and Nebraska could a force to be reckon with come November.
BIG TEN WEST DIVISION BREAK DOWN:
This division is up for grabs. Illinois and Minnesota will be at the bottom but, that doesn’t necessarily mean no bowl game conversation. These two teams are making themselves known this off season. And if teams take them lightly, they will pay by finding themselves on the losing side when the clock hits 00:00. Nebraska, Purdue, and Wisconsin are all right there in the middle of the pack. They will most likely find themselves in a bowl game. These teams will be tough to beat at a 3-4-5 the division. Finally, Iowa and Northwestern will be fighting for the top spot. October 26thwill tell us who will be going to Lucas Oil Stadium.
BIG TEN WEST DIVISION BREAK DOWN:
The Big Ten East is Stout. Rutgers and Indiana will be the bottom feeders struggling in a harsh division. What can they do? Win?.. easier said than done. Penn State will fall this year losing a number of key players to the NFL and the transfer portal. Maryland will be better. Ohio State will surprisingly drop in 2019. The talent will be there, but first year coach Ryan Day, will have to deal with two very experienced coaches and teams that ultimately get the best of him. It’s a battle for the state of Michigan in the East. The Spartans ruin the Buckeyes chances to compete for a Big Ten East title but, the Wolverines finally rise the occasion take the Big Ten East.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
This game is a physical, knockout, drag-out, type of game. Shea Patterson and Nate Stanley duel each other at the quarterback position. These two defenses will be stout. Michigan has more playmakers but Iowa has the tenacious ability to beat you up and slow down the game, like constantly landing body shot after body shot. Michigan is able to have enough grit to land the final blow in this one. Once again, The Big Ten Championship eludes the Iowa Hawkeyes as the Michigan Wolverines take home sole possession of the Big Ten crown back to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2003.
Big Ten Champion: Michigan Wolverines
Big Ten Player of the Year: WR, Rondale Moore, Purdue
Big Ten Offensive Player of the year: WR, Rondale Moore, Purdue
Big Ten Defensive Player of the year: LB, Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Special Teams Player of the Year: WR, JD Spielman, Nebraska
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Featured Image – Big Ten Trophy. Photo Credit Maize n Brew.