2017 Big Ten Preview | College Football Preview
This will be my take and 2017 Big Ten Preview for the NCAA College Football season. There was definitely a period of time there where the Big Ten was down, and honestly a lot of people…looking at you Colin Cowherd were making fun of the Big Ten, stating that the players were not athletic enough to run with the big boy conferences, namely the SEC.
Times are changing, and now the Big Ten conference has four teams ranked in the AP top 25 poll, and combine that with the tradition that still holds true in the Big Ten, the once down conference is now once again being talked as one of the dominant conferences in the nation. Now, the only real issue remaining for the Big Ten is getting some more bowl game wins, going 3-7 like the conference did last season is not a good look.
2017 Big Ten Preview | Team by Team Breakdown
2017 Ohio State Buckeyes Preview:
J.T. Barrett returns for what seems like his 16th season for the Buckeyes. While Barrett can be up and down with his play at times, he is a solid signal caller who knows this offense in and out. The offensive line should be better this season, and that will give Barrett and the entire OSU backfield more time and lanes to run through. The Ohio State Buckeyes defense was outstanding last season, and it looks to get better in 2017 as the Buckeyes are more experienced. If Barrett can continue his solid play, and the defense improves, there is no reason to think that the Buckeyes will not make the CFB Playoff again this season, and this team could have a great shot at winning yet another National title for Urban Meyer.
2017 Purdue Boilermakers Preview:
The Purdue Boilermakers have been one of the bottom feeders of the Big Ten conference for awhile now, but in 2017, there is reason for hope. The Boilermakers are trending up in the Big Ten, and the West, while tough, is the weaker of the two divisions for the Big Ten right now, and there might be room for Purdue to at least make some noise…even if its not very loud. The Boilermakers return just one pass catcher from a season ago, and while that doesn’t bode well for them to start the season, the group wasn’t exactly standing out last year, so getting some fresh faces in there might be what they need. The defense should struggle again, so Purdue is going to have to put up points, so if you are watching Purdue this season, especially early, check to see the chemistry between the wide outs and the signal caller. I don’t know if the Boilermakers have enough to go bowling at the end of the year, but getting out of the cellar would be a nice change of scenery for them.
2017 Indiana Hoosiers Preview:
I am a big fan of Kevin Wilson, starting back from his days orchestrating the Oklahoma Sooners high powered offense. Wilson made the Hoosiers competitvve last season based on offense alone. This season the Hoosiers return some starters on the defensive side of the ball, and while there are a ton of new faces for the Hoosier offense, Indiana is still going to put up some points…just hopefully they don’t have to be in a shootout every game. This all being said, the Hoosiers just don’t have the talent as some of the top teams in the Big Ten, and Indiana will likely be battling with the likes of the Terrapins and the Rutgers Scarlett Knights for the East division basement.
2017 Maryland Terrapins Preview:
The Maryland Terrapins (Terps) have recruited very well recently, but this team is still quite a ways off from competing in the Big Ten’s East division. Durkin is a very good coach, and in time, if given that time, he should have this team playing well, and in fact the Terps could make some noise in the East. Just not right now. Maryland is way too young and inexperienced, and the Terps have depth issues all over the roster. The schedule is again brutal, and while the Terps should be more competitive than they were in 2016, I’m still not looking for miracles with this team. Not yet.
2017 Michigan Wolverines Preview:
I am a big Jim Harbaugh guy, and not just because I’m a Niner fan. I like the way this guy coaches, and every where he goes he just seems to win. This year will be his toughest since heading to Michigan however. The Wolverines were loaded in 2016, but a lot of that talent has gone, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and now Harbaugh will have to do what he does and get as much as he can out of his players. The Wolverines have a brutal schedule again, especially opening up the season, inexperienced, on the road against a solid Florida team. If anyone will have his guys ready, it will be Harbaugh, but look for the Wolverines to struggle some this season, especially early on. Currently it looks like The Wolverines are favored by 3.5 over the Gators…that might be tough to hit with this squad early on.
2017 Michigan State Spartans Preview:
The Michigan State Spartans, and their fans, are likely trying to forget everything about the 2016 season, where Sparty went just 3-9 on the year. While I do think the Spartans will be improved in 2017, a return to dominance for the Spartans might be a bit of a pipe dream at this point. The Spartans are still trying to figure out issues on both sides of the ball, and while a great coach, there were times last season when Dantonio seemed to lose his squad.
I look for the Spartans to be improved this season, likely make a bowl, but don’t expect Sparty to be pushing for the division crown in 2017, especially in the tough east division.
2017 Penn State Nittany Lions Preview:
I remember watching the Nittany Lions face off against the Pitt Panthers early last season, and thinking, “hey this team looks improved, but they are still a ways off from seriously competing”. I was kinda wrong.
The Nittany Lions had one of the, if not the most surprising season of any school in all of College Football last season, and there is serious reason to believe Penn State could be even better in 2017. The coaching at PSU is excellent, and on offense, the Nittany Lions return a ton of starters on offense, and the ones they are replacing are getting replaced with talented players. Defensively the Nittany Lions took a few more losses, but this is a very well coached, disciplined team which should once again be right in the mix for the East division crown in the Big Ten.
2017 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview:
Rutgers was like, really, really bad in 2016.
The Scarlet Knights are just trying to move the needle in the positive direction this season, but even trying to improve on two wins from a season ago, won’t be easy. Rutgers has to face Washington, and of course the gauntlet in the East, including Nebraska out of the West, getting to just three wins, even with teams like Purdue and the Fighting Illini on their schedule will be no gimme. In my eyes, just getting to four wins on the year, would be a huge step forward for this squad.
2017 Illinois Fighting Illini Preview:
Like Rutgers, the theme for Illinois in 2017 will be improvement. Smith will need to show definite signs of that improvement this season, or else he could be on the hot seat, even if it is only after two seasons. The Illini, when they lost last season, they really lost, as the last five losses for Illinois in 2016 came by an average of 30 points.
Illinois is young again this season, but I don’t see that being a too legitimate reason for losses if they start piling up. I’m not expecting a conference championship here, but just get some wins, and closer losses on the board.
2017 Iowa Hawkeyes Preview:
The Hawkeyes have some talent, especially on the offensive line (go figure) but there are definite questions surrounding the Hawkeyes in 2017. Wadley is a stud at the running back spot, and behind that line, look for Iowa once again to try and win the game on the ground, especially considering the inexperience at the quarterback position. The defense has to replace some spots as well, especially in the secondary where Iowa is replacing three starters from a year ago, including King who is now playing on Sundays in the NFL.
Iowa could be a contender in the West division this season, but it won’t be easy. The Hawks have a tough(er) game to open the season with Wyoming, and their yearly bout with the Cyclones is always a toss-up. Factor in the Cornhuskers, the Badgers and having the Buckeyes back on the slate, and the Hawkeyes will have a tough road in 2017. If they win the division again this season, it will definitely be earned.
2017 Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview:
The Minnesota Golden Gophers played some good ball last season, finishing just shy of double digit wins, going 9-4, and earning one of the three Big Ten bowl wins on the season. The Gophers now have P.J. Fleck on the sidelines, which should make for some very interesting screenshots and takes during the game as Fleck is very animated and is definitely considered a “players coach” whatever that means…
The Gophers need more than Fleck rowing the boat however as Minny has inexperience along both lines and under center. I can definitely see the Gophers going bowling again this season, but with the inexperience on both sides of the ball, improving on nine wins from a season ago seems like quite a reach.
2017 Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview:
The Nebraska Cornhuskers finished last season with a solid record of 9-4, but Nebraska caught more than their fair share of breaks along the way to those nine wins. the Huskers got soundly beat at the end of the season, getting blown out by Ohio State (ok everyone does) and then losing to their rival the Iowa Hawkeyes, and then falling to an average Tennessee team in the Music City Bowl.
The Huskers have a new DC on the sidelines this season, but if the Nebraska defense continues to get torched like they have the past two seasons under Riley, look for the brass back at Husker HQ to start looking at the head chief, rather than the…coordinator chiefs (I guess that sounds right).
The Huskers will get their wins, but I don’t see them competing for a West division title and returning back to Indy for the Big Ten title in 2017.
2017 Northwestern Wildcats Preview:
The Northwestern Wildcats are looking to make a run at the West division, and it looks like the Cats might have a real shot. Northwestern has a lot of returning talent from a season ago, and that talent is also being pushed by underclassmen who are ready to play and according to Fitz, the head coach of the Cats, they are deep at nearly every position. Fitzgerald always has his team ready to play, and even though I am an Iowa fan and the Wildcats are one of their toughest rivals every season, I do root for Northwestern outside of the Saturday they play the Hawks, so this might be a fun year to keep an eye on the Purple Cats.
Another thing to consider here is the Wildcats also have a favorable schedule in 2017, not having to play the Wolverines or the Buckeyes, so if the Cats are going to make it to Indy to play in the dome for the title, this could be the season.
2017 Wisconsin Badgers Preview:
The Wisconsin Badgers will once again be good at football in 2017.
The offense has been an issue for the Badgers since Chryst has taken over on the sidelines, but the defense has been lights out and if you are watching a Badgers game, you know you are going to see guys flying around the field, lighting people up. The offense does need to improve however as you cannot rely on your defense to carry you, even in a conference not known for high powered offenses…outside of Ohio State that is.
Right now I have the Badgers to return to Indy to represent the West in 2017, but pressure from the Purple kitties and the Hawkeyes in the division could be too much for Wiscy, especially if the offense struggles once again.
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