By the TSB Staff
2. Michigan State
3. Penn St.
It will be tight at the top once again this year. Ohio State’s Terrell Pryor is going to come into his own this year; combined with an always stout defense, the Buckeyes will be hard to keep from the title. Michigan St. returns 14 starters and will compete for the title if they can find suitable replacements at quarterback and tailback. Penn St. will have a solid year, but overall their losses on defense will be too much to overcome unless young players step up quickly.
Offensive Player of the Year: Terrell Pryor-QB-OSU
Defensive Player of the Year: Greg Jones-LB-MSU
1. Ohio State, 2. Penn State, 3. Northwestern
Offensive Player of the Year: Terrelle Pryor, QB, OSU.
Defensive Player of the year Navorro Bowman, LB, PSU
OK, so my picks for conference champ and runner-up are not exactly un-orthodox, but can you blame me?
Last year’s top two have lost some key players to the NFL, but are still loaded with talent- highlighted by my picks for Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. There’s a reason that Buckeye sophomore Pryor has received so much hype over the past few year. I expect him to be a force both running and passing. Bowman, a junior, is coming off a breakout year in which he was consensus All-Big 10 and can only benefit from the healthy return of fellow linebacker and team captain Sean Lee.
After the “Big 2”, it looks like a bit of a toss-up for third place. Maybe it’s a Chicago bias, but I’m going with Northwestern. The Wildcats were impressive last year and coach Pat Fitzgerald seems to be doing a great job with the program. Scheduling could be another plus- NU doesn’t face Ohio State and gets to play Penn State in Evanston. They’re certainly not expected to challenge for the conference title, but the Wildcats definitely can grab 3rd.
H. JOSE BOSCH:
Ohio State is a slight favorite because they get Illinois at home and don’t have to play Michigan State. Even though they travel to Penn State, I think they take the title. Penn State is No. 2. The third spot for me is tricky. People love Illinois, but they have a wicked stretch of games (@Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State) that they won’t survive. I think Michigan State surprises at No. 3. Terrelle Pryor is going to dominate and be the conference’s top offensive player. Sean Lee will be the best defender.
PAUL M. BANKS:
For my predictions, see my power rankings.
The big question in the Big Ten Conference this year is: will the conference rise again to be what it was in previous decades? Last year, the Big Ten recorded a 1-6 bowl record and the Big Ten has also lost the Rose Bowl (and by more than just a few points) the last three years. So will this year see resurgence? Probably not.
But Penn State and Ohio State are sure to go head-to-head once again for the Big Ten title. The big difference between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes is that the Nittany Lions have an easier schedule. Their non-conference opponents include Temple, Akron, Syracuse, and Eastern Michigan. While the Buckeyes have to play the reigning Rose Bowl champions, the USC Trojans. With Iowa, Michigan St. and Northwestern all capable of having a winning season, Big Ten fans should find plenty to cheer about this upcoming season.
The Ohio State University will once again sit atop the pedestal (as low as that may be in national perception) of the Big Ten conference, when all is said and done this fall. Even though they lose a multitude of key players: Beanie Wells, James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, the team still has the mega-hyped Terrelle Pryor entering his second season. At times last year, it seemed as though Pryor had no idea what he was doing yet still made plays. Imagine what will happen when he actually has a clue as to what’s going on.
1.) Ohio State
2.) Penn State
3.) Michigan State
Offensive Player of the Year: John Clay
Defensive Player of the Year: Sean Lee
Football pundits are once again drooling over the SEC and overlooking the Big Ten when discussing the best teams in the country. The top tier of the Big Ten can play with anyone in any conference, and they’re going to prove it once bowl season rolls around. Some schools have extended their schedules in order to cut down the time between their last game and a potential bowl game, while others have scheduled a more difficult non-conference schedule to show their talent in a national spotlight. However, the two best teams in the conference, Penn State and Ohio State, are simply going to beat almost
every team they play.
They have more than enough talent in their respective stables to keep the success of both evil empires intact. It’s a coin flip between the two teams to see who finishes first, but I think the experience Terelle Pryor accrued last season will push the Buckeyes over the top.
The third place team is a little harder to find. Although Michigan State is the favorite, I think Northwestern can and will give them a run for their money. Although NU lost their QB, RB, and three WRs, MSU is without last year’s starting battery, Brian Hoyer and Javon Ringer in 2009. The replacements for the Wildcats, Mike Kafka and Stephen Simmons, both had extended playing time over the last two seasons.
As far as offensive and defensive MVPs go, Terelle Pryor of OSU and Greg Jones of MSU were awarded the pre-season titles. But there will be some surprises. Look for Juice Williams to run (and pass) wild all season long, putting up massive numbers, while watching his defense give up even more touchdowns in. He has the feet and the arm to lead his team to the endzone, and will do so with the same regularity as Pryor.
On the other side of the ball, offensive tackles will practically disappear when the massive Corey Wootton runs through, or by them on his way to the quarterback. After a spectacular junior season, Wootton is only getting better, and has fully recovered from the Alamo Bowl knee injury, according to Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald. This freakishly athletic bruiser should put up double digit sack numbers again on his way to the first day of the 2010 NFL Draft.