Keep in mind the use of the word bold…
On this one I’m not going chalk…
Sure I could I follow suit, “toe the company line”, and spew the same old projections like every other guy with a keyboard who even remotely covers the B1G does. Sure I could…
But why do that when today I can be bold?
Today, the day I wait for every year. That I count down in my head. That I spend hours following and researching for all off season.
The start of B1G Football.
It’s a day to be bold.
The slate is clean. Everyone’s undefeated.
Today, hope springs eternal across the board. Every team’s loyal fan base believes at this point of the season that they’re either invincible or that “this year things will be different”. Expectations are derived from previous seasons and rightfully so, but every year creates a different team. Balls bounce differently and momentum sways faster than a Taylor Martinez 70 yard touch-down run.
Today I make bold projections for the B1G. I know what the “experts” are saying, but I’m no expert. I’m also not taking the easy way out. I don’t have a lot of insider info other than what I digest from multiple outlets all off season. I can only call it like I see it and give you my thoughts going into the season like any other writer out there would.
Here’s the thing, nobody can tell you with absolute certainty how a team will perform each season. Teams take on different identities every year. They shed one stereotype and grow another. They fall short of hype just as often as they live up to it. I haven’t seen any of them play a game yet this season, and guess what, neither has anyone else. I’m going to put it all out there, but excuse me if I don’t give the same stock projections every writer on planet “Internet” is regurgitating to you this week.
My Bold B1G Projections:
Ohio State will not go undefeated. Don’t get me wrong, the Buckeyes are going to be every bit the team they were last season. A salty and confident offense with explosive playmakers and a defense with all the talent needed to win a B1G title. But a lot of pundits forget they were in a lot of close games last year and a lot of close games against some bad teams. Every magic season like Ohio State should have had last year (12-0), but didn’t due to the sanctions, is also accompanied by a lot of luck. Some of the shine of Urban Meyer was rubbed off this summer with the Aaron Hernandez arrest. Suddenly it’s easier to see why Urban Meyer bolted Florida (twice) after 31 arrests during his tenor, a leave of absence brought on by chest pains, and the rumors that spread about the program he ran while in Gainesville. He landed a cushy job at ESPN that helped grow his brand and helped him find a cushy landing spot in Columbus. But Columbus is not Gainesville, and the B1G just isn’t the SEC. The recruits and players aren’t the same either. Urban Meyer’s best days at Ohio State are still in front of him but the program is too young and still in its infancy to live up to the hype that last season generated.
Nebraska will win the Legends Division and earn a BCS Bowl bid. If the Huskers are back, it all starts with winning the Legends division. Four teams could win it and not a lot of football divisions in the country are this wide open, with so many teams that have the potential to win 10 or more games. So why the Huskers then? Nebraska is the safe bet, is returning a 4 year starter at QB, and is the most consistent program over the last half decade that is primed to make that next step. Nebraska will have one of the best offenses in the country and has the schedule divisional championships are made of. In fact, they will hardly be challenged until midway through the conference season. The defense will give the Husker faithful plenty of scares leading up to their trip to Ann Arbor but their offense will win them every game on their schedule except one.
Northwestern won’t handle life with big expectations so well. I feel like the Wildcats have the toughest schedule of the front runners in the Legends division. It’s hard not to recognize what Fitzgerald’s group has done over the last few seasons in the B1G and I feel like if I continue to doubt that team (especially on the road) that I’ll get burnt. But their schedule just seems too difficult to overcome and it’s hard for any team to maintain the pace they’ve been on with the resources they have.
Speaking of the Legends, the Hawkeyes will be improved and make a bowl, barely. There’s not a program in the Legends division that is playing with a bigger chip on its shoulder this season than the Iowa Hawkeyes. We heard this off season from Sports Illustrated’s Stuart Mandel that Kirk Ferentz was one of the worst five head coaches in all of college football. Guess who else heard that? Kirk Ferentz and everyone ever associated with his programs. Pride is on the line for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Ferentz has bounced back from worse and has done it with first year quarterbacks more times than not. Think Brad Banks, Nathan Chandler, Drew Tate. Sure, there are plenty of downsides to having an inexperienced QB without a single snap in division 1 football, but there are benefits too. There isn’t going to be a lot of tape on newly named starter Jake Rudock, who had a sterling prep career and was named the USA Player of the Year by USA Today as a senior in high school. This has all the make-up of a Ferentz team on the rise that will make strides before another uptick for the program. They go into the 2013 season with the advantage of a healthy camp, a strong offensive line and a full back field. The defense has enough to help the team stay in most games (much like they did last year as they lost 4 games by a combined total of 10 points). The schedule is the only thing in the way. The Hawks will make a bowl and it will take an upset late in the season to do it.
Penn State’s armor will start to show cracks during the B1G season. The Lions were a hell of a story last season but I think the reality of the severe sanctions levied against the program starts to show as the season progresses. Last year’s senior led team has moved on and so has the “us against the world” attitude they helped instill. Penn State has a great early schedule to help them feel good about the state of the program during such troubling times, but depth will play a factor as the B1G season progresses.
The Indiana Hoosier’s will go bowling for only the 2nd time in 2 decades. The Hoosiers have the schedule and the offense to carry them to a bowl. They have to sweep Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and I think that’s manageable as I believe they will be far better than all 3 of those teams. Their non-conference schedule could be one of the hardest they’ve played in recent memory, but it should help prepare them for the tough B1G slate later in the year. If things bounce right, the Hoosiers will go bowling.
Ohio State 11-1 over-all, 7-1 B1G
Wisconsin 8-4, 5-3
Indiana 7-5, 4-4
Penn State 6-6, 3-5
Purdue 2-10, 1-7
Illinois 1-11, 0-8
Nebraska 11-1 over-all, 7-1 B1G
Michigan 10-2, 6-2
Northwestern 7-5, 4-4
Michigan State 7-5, 4-4
Iowa 7-5, 4-4
Minnesota 3-9, 0-8
B1G Championship Game: Ohio State over Nebraska
BY RYAN OSBAHR ON AUGUST 29, 2013
Follow @RyanOsbahr1 on Twitter