Coming in to the 2013 season there should be no question about who everyone’s frontrunner is for the B1G Ten; Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes. If a year of punishment has ever been imposed at a bad time, it was last season as the Bucks would have been playing an undefeated Notre Dame squad in the BCS National Championship, thus breaking the God forsaken SEC title streak. Here are some things to take note of for each team this season.
RB Mark Weisman returns and looks to bring the “Weisman for Heisman” campaign back from 2012 with him
2012 was not kind to the Hawkeyes. Last year’s starting QB James Vandenberg was much less effective than the 2011 season as he threw for seven touchdowns. Seven. You’re an FBS QB and you start all season, and only throw SEVEN touchdowns? Vandenberg‘s back up last season Jake Rudock, will be listed as the starter as fall camp begins. WR’s struggled as well last season, at least when it came to big YAC and the ability to separate from opposing team DB’s. WR Kevonte Martin-Manley returns after being the teams leading pass catcher last season with 52 receptions. Only downside to those 52 catches is that only two of those catches ended with him in the endzone. RB Mark Weisman had his name start to emerge in Heisman talks until a bit of inconsistency the later half of the season. The Hawkeye faithful began the “Weisman for Heisman” campaign and will without a doubt try to build it again in 2013. The defense has a lot of depth but it isn’t quite clear how talented that depth is. The defensive line will need to produce much more pressure on the opponents QB after finishing 2012 ranked last in the conference in sacks. Anthony Hitchens leads a LB core that has gotten no love. Many fail to realize that Hitchens ended last season ranked sixth in the country in tackles per game (11.3).
QB Devin Gardner will lead a strong Wolverines offense
Brady Hoke has been itching to put in a pro-style offense. Now that NCAA Football 14 cover athlete Denard Robinson has departed, it is time to see what Hoke has in mind. When Robinson was injured late last season, Devin Gardner got a chance to show Wolverine fans what they had to look forward to. In the final four regular season games, all of which Gardner started, the Wolverines won three. During that stretch, Gardner completed 63% of his passes with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Some of you may remember Gardner as a WR which should tell you he has the mobility when he needs it. At RB, Big Blue has a couple options in Fitz Toussaint (2011 1,000+ yard rusher) or highly touted freshman Derrick Green. An early season matchup vs Notre Dame week 2 will show a lot about this seasons Michigan team. Defensively you can expect a top 20 unit for the third straight season. They are a talented group with a lot of speed. For example, DE Frank “The Freak” Clark is a former safety who has added a whopping 50 pounds over the past two years and STILL outruns FBS caliber WR’s. With a favorable schedule it’s almost crystal clear that their only opponent keeping them from their first B1G Ten title in eight years is…. Ohio State.
After spring practice it became pretty clear that the most improved unit for the Spartans is their offensive line. QB Andrew Maxwell looks to be the starter again this season, but Coach Dantonio will give Connor Cook a look as he orchestrated the game-winning drive against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The offense will miss their stud RB from a year ago, Le’Veon Bell. Juniors Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford will battle it out but it is likely both will see a substantial amount of carries in 2013. If there is anything to expect from MSU, they will have a stout defense as they usually do year in and year out. They could be the team that ruins an opponent or two’s chances at a great post season game.
DB Derrick Wells looks to be the superstar on the Gopher defense but if QB’s don’t throw in his direction it could make for a frustrating season
Head Coach Jerry Kill loves to run the ball so expect to see a strong power running game take effect. Looking to take some pressure off of the passing game are RB’s Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams. During Kill‘s coaching career, year three has always been the magic year (look at SIU and NIU). On defense, JUCO transfer LB Damien Wilson will look to make some immediate noise and trying to lead a no-fly zone is DB Derrick Wells. The B1G Ten is a lot different than NIU and SIU, coach. Time to show your stuff, and I’m doubting you.
Accuracy issues have surrounded QB Taylor Martinez during his long Nebraska career and he’ll need to be near perfect if the Huskers want a B1G Ten Championship
This is a huge year for Bo Pelini. He has found a way multiple times to get to the conference championship (including their time with the Big XII) but never had the answers to win it. Remember last season’s conference championship? Giving up 70 points? Ouch! Should this year be any different? The offense is stacked in terms of talent. WR Kenny Bell has been improving every season and looks like he could be playing on Sunday’s. He and senior Quincy Enunwa will provide great targets for QB Taylor Martinez to throw to. Martinez, known more for his rushing ability like most NU QB’s, will join RB’s Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross in what will be a top three option offense in the country. The jury is still out on Martinez‘s accuracy. Though it did improve a bit last season, he will need to improve even that much more if they want to be dynamic in both offensive phases. On defense, the Huskers are looking to replace all three starting LB, and most of the defensive line. NU is always known for a tough defense but the youth could be the reason the Huskers, yet again, don’t win the conference.
RB Venric Mark looks to be a big reason Northwestern should be a team to fear in 2013
The always dangerous RB Venric Mark returns and has one thing on his mind: winning. QB Kain Colter led and offense that showed it’s ready to play as they took out Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. The Cats’ defense returns seven starters and will make a ton of noise in the conference. The LB duo of Chi Chi Ariguzo and Damien Proby will be the strength as the two combined for over 200 tackles a year ago. Don’t sleep on the Wildcats. They may not only ruin a couple teams’ seasons, but they may have a memorable one of their own.
Longtime Illini QB Nate Scheelhaase looks to cap off his Illinois career with a solid senior season
It would be comforting knowing that Nate Scheelhaase is returning under center except for one thing: the offense ranked last in every major offensive category in the conference last season. The offense was not entirely all of Scheelhaase‘s fault. He had little help. The line was one of the worst in the country allowing 39 sacks. WR’s Ryan Lankford and Spencer Harris look to use last year as a learning time for this season and provide Scheelhaase with a couple quality targets. RB Donovonn Young was the team’s leading rusher and pass catcher last year and returns looking to achieve much more this year. LB Jonathan Brown is ready to show his team’s defense is no joke. He brings back with him fellow LB’s Mason Monheim and Houston Bates. They look to all bring in a fire that was missing inside the unit the last five or six seasons. If the passing game works, they could be a pretty decent team.
QB Tre Roberson went down with an injury early in 2012 but looks to lead the Hoosiers to a successful season
The Hoosiers will a team that has improved all around. They have a great QB situation that I think Tre Roberson will win. College football nowadays wants and needs versatility. Of the three QB’s competing, Roberson is the most versatile. He went down early in 2012 with an injury but rumor has it he is back to full strength and improving his game as well. On the ground, the O will be strong thanks to an experienced line. On defense, all of the LB’s and DB’s return, all having improved physically and mentally. The B1G Ten is a tough conference. With that being said, I don’t think the improvements will be enough to be a contender.
QB Braxton Miller has Buckeyes fans drooling in anticipation of the 2013 season
Here we go. Everybody’s favorite for one of the two National Championship spots. Heisman caliber QB Braxton Miller returns after having an unbelievable season in 2012. He led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, and with the bowl ban that was imposed last season, missed the National Championship where they would have played Notre Dame. Missing TE Jake Stoneburner will be big, but the WR’s, led by Devin Smith, could end up being more productive targets for Miller anyways. RB Carlos Hyde could end up being the first RB to ever rush for 1,000+ yards under Urban Meyer and it helps that four of the o-line starters return. The schedule is on their side as they have possibly the easiest in the country. Going undefeated has become a rare feat in college football and the Buckeyes did last year, leading me to believe they will choke up a game or two this season. Only time will tell.
Top high school QB Christian Hackenburg is the future of the Lions offense, but his calling may come a bit early
Coach Bill O’Brien signed a nice extension after this past season and there should be no question as to why. After everything the program went through with Shower Gate, he still had a successful season and continues to recruit. Speaking of recruit, the school’s QB could be a highly sought after one in Christian Hackenburg. If O’Brien decides not to go with the future of the program, he will look to JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson. RB Zach Zwinak was a nice shock to last season rushing for 1,000+ out of nowhere. He is returning and leaves the only offensive question under center. WR Allen Robinson will be one of the best in the country if whoever is throwing the rock can get it in his vicinity. It is hard to think the defense did not improve as Glenn Carson returns at LB along with an experienced defensive line anchored by DaQuan Jones. The Nittany Lions will ruin somebody’s season. Mark my words. Especially since they are under penalty.
RB Akeem Hunt had a successful spring and hopes to make an immediate impact on the ground
The Boilermakers look to have the smash and dash kind of backs schools love to utilize in Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom. Hunt, the speedster, had quite an impressive spring session and proved he has the ability to succeed. Cottom, the power back, does have some speed as well, but will be looked upon to use his 258 pound self to run the opposition flat over. Gary Bush is the obvious starter after spring drills, but he may not have anybody worth throwing to as last year’s leading WR was suspended in February. Rumors circulated O.J. Ross may return, but I don’t see it happening. Tough year for Purdue. Drew Brees has to be disappointed.
WR Jared Abbrederis brings back the most experience of all the receivers and he’ll be counted on in the Badgers want a big season
Melvin Gordon has some big shoes to fill in the departure of Montee Ball, along with expectations in Camp Randall. Does it phase him? Not a bit. James White will be the starter but Wisconsin, and the nation, is ready for Gordon to show he will be the next great back from Wisconsin. Defensively, the Badgers will make the switch to a 3-4 scheme. This may cause difficulty for scout teams in preparation for Wisconsin, but it could backfire and be tough for Wisconsin to adjust to as well since very few B1G Ten teams run the 3-4.
B1G Ten Football Final Standings:
B1G Ten Football Championship:
Michigan v Ohio State
B1G Ten Football Games to Watch:
Sept. 28: Wisconsin @ Ohio State
Oct. 5: Ohio State @ Northwestern
Oct. 12: Michigan @ Penn State
Oct. 26: Penn State @ Ohio State
Nov. 2: Northwestern @ Nebraska
Nov. 9: Nebraska @ Michigan
Nov. 16: Michigan @ Northwestern
Nov. 16: Michigan State @ Nebraska
Nov. 23: Nebraska @ Penn State
Nov. 23: Michigan State @ Northwestern
Nov. 30: Penn State @ Wisconsin
Nov. 30: Ohio State @ Michigan
Ninja Sports Preseason All B1G Ten Football Team 2013
|WR Jared Abbrederis, Wis||DE Tyler Scott, NW||K Brendan Gibbons, Mich|
|WR Allen Robinson, PSU||DE Frank Clark, Mich||P Mike Sadler, MSu|
|TE Jacob Pedersen, Wis||DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minn||KR Akeem Hunt, Purdue|
|T Taylor Lewan, Mich||DT DaQuan Jones, PSU|
|T Jeremiah Sirles, Neb||LB Ryan Shazier, OSU|
|G Spencer Long, Neb||LB Max Bullough, MSU|
|G Andrew Norwell, OSU||LB Anthony Hitchens, Iowa|
|C Corey Linsley, OSU||CB Bradley Roby, OSU|
|QB Braxton Miller, OSU||CB Ricardo Allen, Purdue|
|RB Venric Mark, NW||S Ibraheim Campbell, NW|
|RB Melvin Gordon, Wis||S Isaiah Lewis, MSU|
B1G Ten Football Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
B1G Ten Football Defensive Player of the Year: Max Bullough, LB Michigan State