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2010 FINAL BIG TEN STANDINGS

Ohio State 12-1 (7-1)

Michigan State 11-2 (7-1)

Wisconsin 11-2 (7-1)

Iowa 8-5 (4-4)

Illinois 8-5 (4-4)

Penn State 7-6 (4-4)

Michigan 7-6 (3-5)

Northwestern 7-6 (3-5)

Purdue 4-8 (2-6)

Minnesota 3-9 (2-6)

Indiana 5-7 (1-7)

 

RETURNING STATISTICAL LEADERS

Returning Leaders: Passing

Dan Persa, Northwestern, Sr (222 of 302 for 2581, 15 TD, 4 INT)

Kirk Cousins, Mich St, Sr (226 of 338 for 2825 yds, 20 TD, 10 INT)

Denard Robinson, Mich, Jr (182 of 291 for 2570 yds, 18 TD, 11 INT)

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska, Soph (116 of 196 for 1631, 10 TD, 7 INT)

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois, Soph (155 of 264 for 1825 yds, 17 TD, 8 INT)

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, Sr (308 of 526 for 3563, 28 TD, 14 INT)*

*stats compiled as a member of NC State last year


Returning Leaders: Rushing

Denard Robinson, Mich, Jr (256 carries for 1702 yds, 6.6 ypc, 14 TD)

Edwin Baker, Mich St, Jr (207 carries for 1201 yds, 5.8 ypc, 13 TD)

Dan Herron, Ohio State, Sr (216 carries for 1155 yds, 5.3 ypc, 16 TD)**

James White, Wisconsin, Soph (156 carries for 1052 yds, 6.7 ypc, 14 TD)

Montee Ball, Wisconsin, Jr (163 carries for 996 yds, 6.1 ypc, 18 TD)

**suspended for first five games of season



Returning Leaders: Receiving

Damarlo Belcher, Indiana, Sr (78 rec for 832 yds, 4 TD)

Roy Roundtree, Mich, Jr (72 rec for 935 yds, 7 TD)

Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern, Sr (62 rec for 953 yds, 8 TD)

A.J. Jenkins, Illinois, Sr (56 rec for 746 yds, 7 TD)

Derek Moye, Penn State, Sr (53 rec for 885, 8 TD)


Returning Leaders: Tackles

Lavonte David, Nebraska, Sr, LB (152 total, 10.86 tackles/game)

Jordan Kovacs, Mich, Jr. S (116 total, 8.92 tackles/game)

Brian Peters, Northwestern, Sr, S (107 total, 8.23 tackles/game)

Logan Link, Purdue, Sr, S (91 total, 7.58 tackles/game)

Gary Tinsley, Sr, LB (90 total, 7.5 tackles/game)

Dwayne Beckford, Purdue, Jr, LB (95 total, 7.9 tackles/game


Returning Leaders: Sacks

Jared Crick, Nebraska, Sr, DT (9.5 sacks)

Vince Browne, Northwestern, Sr, DE (7.0)

Lavonte David, Nebraska, Sr (6.0)

Nathan Williams, tOSU, Sr, DE (4.5)

Kawann Short, Purdue, DT, Jr (4.5)

Darius Johnsons, Indiana, DE, Sr (5.5)

 

Returning Leaders: Interceptions

Shaun Prater, Iowa, Sr, CB (4 interceptions)

Alfonso Dennard, Nebraska, Sr, CB (4)

Micah Hyde, Iowa, S, Jr (4)

Trenton Robinson, Mich St, Sr, S (4)

Antonio Fenelus, Wisconsin, SR, CB (4)

 

BREAKING DOWN THE BIG TEN WITH THE ZEALOTS

 

Illinois

Jay (Prediction: #4 Leaders): The Illini really should have a new coach this year.  But the Zooker rode the coattails of Paul Petrino and Mikel Leshoure to a gaudy 7-6 record, and, thus, he endures.  What should scare Illinois fans is that he's primed to eek out another mediocre year and stick around for 2012.  The schedule is magnificent.  With just 4 road games and a 5 game season-opening home-stand against teams the Illini should beat or at least shouldn't be overwhelming underdogs against.  Zook will have to work extremely hard not to win at least 6 this season.  Left to his own devices, I wouldn't put it past him to pull it off, but I think Petrino will push, pull, and drag him to another bowl game, even without Leshoure to help carry the load.  Enjoy.

Ross (Prediction: #4 Leaders): The conversation about "coaches on the hot seat" in the Big Ten always begins with Ron Zook and probably will until he can string together a few good seasons. Of course, if the Illini hadn't been ravaged by early entrants to the NFL Draft last year they'd be a legitimate dark horse pick to win their division this year.  Unfortunately, removing their best offensive player (RB Mikel LeShoure) and their two best defensive players (DT Corey Liuget and LB Martez Wilson) probably derailed that train before it could even leave the station.  That said, they still have the potential to be pretty decent this year: they return seven starters on offense (including budding star QB Nathan Scheelhaase and the bulk of the offensive line) and and six starters on defense (including three-quarters of their secondary).  And, more importantly, they retained both of the coordinators who helped guide their turnaround last year. Coupled with a favorable schedule (they miss Nebraska, Michigan State, and Iowa from the other division) and they should be able to get back to a second-straight bowl game.  Unless they get Zooked, anyway.

Kevin (Prediction: #4 Leaders): Might as well make this one unanimous. Zook did a very smart thing last year in hiring Paul Petrino to run the offense (increased scoring offense by 8 points per game) and Vic Koenning to run the defense (increased scoring defense by 6.5 points per game). Those moves saved his job. Those great improvements led Illinois to finish 7-6 and 4-4 in the conference. I can't see them improving on those numbers this year. I'm looking at 6-6 for this team pending a bowl invite.

 

Indiana

Jay (Prediction: #6 Leaders): Good things are coming to Bloomington, but this is a season for starting over.  They could conceivably open up 4-0 but will be an underdog in nearly all of their conference games (depending on which way Purdue goes).  I'm not sure this Hoosier team has two upsets in them.  If only they had Michigan or Minnesota on the schedule.  We're just killing time here until the younger Kiel comes to town.

Ross (Prediction: #6 Leaders): The Hoosiers have just 12 returning starters (6 on offense, 6 on defense) and have to deal with an entirely new coaching staff.  Kevin Wilson may eventually lead Hoosierdom to some semblance of glory at Indiana, but it ain't gonna be in 2011.

Kevin (Prediction: #6 Leaders): I really like what Kevin Wilson has done since coming onto campus. He's arguing with douche bag radio hosts who use to play QB at Illinois and he's getting a verbal commitment from the top QB in the Nation. I think Wilson will be successful at Indiana, or at least as successful as one can be at Indiana before getting a better offer to move up the ladder.

 

Iowa

Jay (Predicton: #3 Legends): The Hawkeyes caught all the breaks in 2009, and then seemingly had all the breaks go against them in 2010.  They'll need luck back on their side in 2011 if they hope to remain among the top teams in the conference.  Defense has been a strength of the last few Iowa teams, but this year, it looks like a liability with only 11 of their top 20 tacklers back.  To complicate matters, they have to break in a new quarterback and a mostly new corps of receivers.  And with the way their running back situation has played out the past couple of seasons, who knows when and where that roulette wheel will stop spinning.  I just don't see which part of this team is capable of carrying the load for the other.  The program is still strong enough to win quite a few games and go to a nice bowl (which recent history suggests they'll win), but they're not among the B1G's elite this year.

Ross (Prediction: #2 Legends): Call it a homer pick if you like, but it's mainly based on their schedule.  They skip out on three of the top four teams in the Leaders division (Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois) and only face two challenging league road games (Penn State, Nebraska).  Despite their question marks on defense (where the line and secondary need to do a lot of reloading) and the uncertain at quarterback (incumbent starter James Vandenberg has been inconsistent in past appearances), it's not a stretch at all to imagine them going 8-4 or 9-3.  The Legends division title may very well come down to the Black Friday game between Iowa and Nebraska, which would add another layer of intensity to what should already be one hell of a game.

Kevin (Prediction: #4 Legends): According to Phil Steele this is the least experienced team by far in the Big Ten. They are also breaking in a new QB. Their schedule is favorable so I think they win 7 or 8 games but I also really like Northwestern's schedule and I don't think they are better than MSU or Nebraska.

 

Michigan

Jay (Prediction: #5 Legends): Three years later, the head coach at Michigan finds himself in similar predicament as the last head coach.  He prefers an offensive system that is completely opposed to the offensive talent on hand.  What does he do?  Does he moderate his stance to accommodate the players, or does he take a hard-line stance on his particular offensive dogma?  Both options have merit.  Rich Rodriguez chose the latter, forcing a hard change from a pro-style offense to his brand of the spread.  And while it cost him some amazing talent like Ryan Mallett (and wasted even more) in the beginning, it did pay off with a prolific 2010. Just not enough to keep his job.  Now Brady Hoke ponders the same conundrum with the offensive juggernaut RichRod built around Denard Robinson.  He claims the Wolverines will keep some of Robinson's running game in the playbook, but make no mistake, he's going with a hard switch back to a pro-style offense, and I think it's going to be as disastrous as RichRod's first year.  The Wolverines just don't have the right personnel to make that system work, Robinson being the least capable of them all.  He's not a passer.  And he's not going to be nearly as effective running with Al Borges shoehorning in some run plays for him as he was in Rodriguez's all-encompassing scheme.  Those days are over.  They'd be better off turning him into a RB/WR/Wildcat "slash" player.  HOWEVER, I really like the Greg Mattison hire on defense.  There's not enough talent on hand for that defense to immediately get back to the days when you were lucky to score 20 on them, but they'll be tough again.  I expect big improvements on that side of the ball.  It probably won't be enough to make up for the offense and carry the Wolverines to a bowl game, but it's a start.

Ross (Prediction: #4 Legends): For Big Blue, this season probably comes down to how well they can answer two questions: will Denard Robinson be too much of a square peg in a round hole in the new Michigan offense and will they have any semblance of a defense after the sorry outfits they sent out the past few years?  The defense should be better under Greg Mattison (it could hardly be worse), though they're probably a year or two away from fielding a truly "Michigan"-caliber defense again.  The offensive question is more uncertain and more intriguing; Robinson was one of the most dazzling talents in the nation a year ago, but he also seemed far better suited to excel in Rich Rodriguez's spread attack than in the more conventional offensive stylings of Brady Hoke.  The Wolverines also have a potentially nasty closing stretch: November opens up with a pair of road trips to Iowa and Illinois and ends with home games against Nebraska and Ohio State.  That could be a hill too high for this year's Wolverines to climb.

Kevin (Prediction: #5 Legends): I didn't initially like the Brady Hoke but since he's been hired he seems to be making the right moves. That being said, I don't think he's turning the corner this year. Michigan will improve on defense but they will take a step back on offense. They look like a 6 win team to me.

 

Michigan State

Jay (Prediction: #1 Legends): Does anyone get less respect than these guys?  I think this program arrived last year (a year late by my estimate), and Mark Dantonio has them set up to win big consistently for the near term.  I love their quarterback, their receivers, their stable of running backs, you name it.  They'll be a little down on defense due to the loss of some key playmakers like Greg Jones, but the returning numbers are solid enough to prevent an implosion on that side of the ball.  And what drop-off there is will likely be offset by an offense that has the potential to put up 30+ a game.  Another 10-win season seems in order.

Ross (Prediction: #3 Legends): Sparty returns a lot of offensive stars (notably, QB Kirk Cousins and RB Edwin Baker), as well as three-fourths of their defensive line, but there are reasons to be skeptical of them duplicating their 2010 efforts, too.  They rode some good fortune in more than a few 2010 wins (which is usually unsustainable on a year-to-year basis) and their Big Ten opening slate is rough: at Ohio State (albeit an OSU still featuring multiple suspended players), home games with Michigan and Wisconsin, followed by a road trip to Nebraska.  Things ease up after that, but they could easily have 3-4 losses in the league before November even arrives, which would scuttle any hopes of winning the division (or league).

Kevin (Prediction: #3 Legends): I really like what Michigan State is brining back on offense. But I hate their schedule. They got the screws with having to play Wisconsin and Ohio State while others in the division don't play either team. I think they probably go 9-3 and will be a very dangerous team but their schedule will be their downfall.



Minnesota

Jay (Prediction: #6 Legends): Tim Brewster dug this program into a pretty deep hole, and it's simply going to take time to put things right.  Jerry Kill is a winner, but he's not the type of coach who's going to show up, snap his fingers, and create overnight success for the Gophers.
Big 10 Title Game:  Wisconsin over Michigan State

Ross (Prediction: #6 Legends): On the bright side, Tim Brewster is gone.  On the not-so-bright side, it's going to take Jerry Kill more than one year to return the Gophers to respectability. The defense should be at least marginally improved with eight returning starters, but the offense is full of holes and they're going to need to hope that MarQueis Gray develops in a hurry.  Missing out on Ohio State and Penn State in a bonus, but that's probably not enough to get them out of the cellar in this division.

Kevin (Prediction: #6 Legends): Another unanimous pick in the Legends division. See a trend? I like the Jerry Kill hire but he's not a miracle worker. Minnesota won three games last year, if they can win five this year I would consider it a success.

 

Nebraska

Jay (Prediction: #2 Legends): This is probably the second most talented team in the conference, but, wow, they got stuck with a tough schedule for their inaugural season in the new Big 10.  I hope they at least got a fruit basket.  I'm also very skeptical of Taylor Martinez.  Which guy is going to show up this year?  The one who was an out-of-nowhere Heisman hopeful in the early going, or the one who caused his coach to have a meltdown later on?  A reworked offensive scheme isn't likely to do him any favors.  And in a system that revolves around the QB, I can't totally get behind a team with such uncertainty at the position.  Pelini's defense will be salty, as usual, and too athletic for most B1G offenses to deal with, so they'll still win 10 games or thereabouts.  But I don't favor them in crucial conferences games against Wisconsin and Michigan State.  Even that home game against Ohio State immediately following the trip to Wisconsin could be tricky.

Ross (Prediction: #1 Legends): It pains me to pick them here, but despite a nasty schedule (in addition to their divisional opponents, they play the top three teams -- Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State -- from the other division, with the Wisco and Penn State games being on the road) and an offense with some question marks (for one, can Taylor Martinez run as much as he did in 2010 and survive an entire season in the Big Ten?), they still seem like the best option here thanks to what looks like a very stiff defense -- and the fact that the rest of the division has just as many question marks.  They also get two of their most difficult divisional rivals, Michigan State and Iowa, at home, which should be an advantage.

Kevin (Prediction: #1 Legends): Outside of maybe Ohio State, this will be the best defense in the Big Ten. Best case scenario (Taylor Martinez stays healthy and sane) then this team could go 11-1 and win the B1G. Worst case scenario sees their QB go down or struggle and then not be able to put points on the board. When you look at this defense- Jared Crick, Cameron Merideth, Lavonte David, Alfonso Dennard- I almost want to just crown them B1G champs. But the offense is just too inconsistent. Maybe the new OC cures what ails this team but I'm not banking on it.

 

Northwestern

Jay (Prediction: #4 Legends): Oh, those consistent Wildcats.  This is another one of those teams I love because you know exactly what you're going to get from them.  And with 16 of their top 20 tacklers back on defense and 9 starters on offense (including an astounding 137 starts worth of experience on the OL), I think Northwestern is about the surest best in college football, especially if Dan Persa stays healthy.  They'll win 8 and go to their 4th straight bowl, and if they get a good draw, maybe even win this one.

 

Ross (Prediction: #5 Legends): Under most circumstances, Northwestern would be one of the favorites to win the division.  They return 16 starters (9 on offense, 7 on defense) and have arguably the best quarterback in the league (Dan Persa).  They even have a pretty favorable schedule, missing out on Ohio State and Wisconsin.  So why peg them so low?  Partly because it's unclear how good some of that returning talent is (their defense has been underwhelming for a few years and while Persa is exceptional, they haven't had much of a running game in ages) and partly it's because of their history (under Fitzgerald they've never failed to lose at least four games every year).  They seem to find ways to lose to teams they should probably beat; until they shake that tendency, it's hard to trust them too far.

Kevin (Prediction: #2 Legends): I love Dan Persa and I really like this schedule. They play at Nebraska but they skip Wisconsin and Ohio State (arguably the best two teams in the B1G). They also get Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State at home. This is also the most experienced team in the B1G by far (Phil Steele has them as the 2nd most experienced team in the Nation). This is the year for Northwestern to work their magic because they will take a step back next year. A Legends Division Title is not out of the question.

 

Ohio State

Jay (Prediction: #2 Leaders): I see a lot of gloom and doom being predicted for the Buckeyes this year, but I expect them to outperform those expectations.  The bottom line is that this is still the most talented team in the conference by a longshot, and talent wins games in college football.  Barring a total meltdown in the coaching staff (which I don't foresee since Luke Fickell was set up where he is for that specific reason), I think this team will pull together a very respectable season.  Their streak of Big 10 titles will likely come to an end, and their streak of 10+ win seasons to go along with it, but a solid 8 or 9 win season would seem like a feel-good ending to a tumultuous 2011 to me.

Ross (Prediction: #2 Leaders): They lost one of the best coaches in league history, a three-year starter at QB who was a dynamic athlete (if also very erratic), and have a handful of other key players suspended for the first five games in 2011.  Oh, and there's the looming possibility of more sanctions from the NCAA being handed down during the season.  On the other hand, they have more talent than any other program in the conference and there's definitely the potential for them to use the off-season scandal and turmoil as motivation to prove their doubters wrong in 2011.  But mostly they just have more talent than anyone else in the league.

Kevin (Prediction: #2 Leaders): The suspension will hurt and I think it will result in a loss of two games, the Mich State game and the Nebraska game. I think the suspension hurt the Nebraska game because it's tough to just come back and be in game shape (see also: AJ Green from Georgia last year cramping up late in game against Colorado in his first game back from suspension). I also like Wisconsin to beat Ohio State. So that's three losses I've got for Ohio State- all in conference- and I just can't see them winning the "Leaders" division with three losses (or even two if they pull out a win against Mich State or Nebraska).

 

Penn State

Jay (Prediction: #3 Leaders): I came really close to picking Penn State to finish second in the division.  After suffering through the growing pains of a young team in 2010, they return very strong numbers this year, which should make them much more competitive.  That said, I think there are three major hurdles facing this team.  First, it's quarterback play.  I still don't feel very positive about Robert Bolden or Matt McGloin or whoever else they have at that position.  And from what I've read, most Nittany Lion fans don't either.  Secondly, while experience is nice, I ultimately think the talent level is still too far down for them to compete at the highest levels week in and week out.  And I think you'll see the effects of that most at the end of the season when the Lions face this daunting 3-week slate:  vs.Nebraska, @OSU, @Wisconsin.  That's three of the best four teams in the conference back-to-back-to-back.  Tough to finish strong against those odds.

Ross (Prediction: #3 Leaders): Penn State should have a solid defense (with potentially the league's best secondary) and in Silas Redd, they have one of the league's most dynamic running backs.  But there are three things about them that are concerning: their quarterback situation, their offensive line, and their schedule.  Whether they go with Matt McGloin or Robert Bolden, their quarterback situation isn't going to knock anyone's socks off.  Their offensive line has underperformed since 2008 and it's unclear how much better (if at all) the current unit is than its predecessors.  And the schedule gets downright nasty in November: home against Nebraska, followed by road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin to end the season.  That could be enough to doom their Big Ten title aspirations.

Kevin (Prediction: #3 Leaders): Oh Joe Paterno, what can I say without pissing off the Penn State fan base? While Paterno remains coach this team will not finish above 3rd place in their half of the division. At this point, I think he's holding them back. The QB situation is a mess and they don't seem to be getting that elite recruit. They need a new sherrif that can take this program back to a higher level of consistency. That being said, this team won't be bad. This team could even start off 8-1, but they will lose their last three games and come crashing back to earth.

 

Purdue

Jay (Prediction: #5 Leaders): This looks like a really solid Boilermaker team.  Not too much to get excited about or anything, but solid.  Despite losing their one bonafide star, Ryan Kerrigan, they return nearly everybody else on defense (18 of their top 20 tacklers from 2010!).  That may not be a great thing considering they gave up nearly 30 points a game with Kerrigan, but...it can't hurt.  In the end, though, Purdue football is going to live and die based on their ability to run up and down the field and put points on the board.  I expect them to be a bit more threatening in that regard this year after dealing with severe quarterback issues last season, but I still don't think they have their Brees/Painter/Orton.  That said, I think their schedule sets up well enough that they can maybe sneak into a bowl game for the first time since 2007.

Ross (Prediction: #5 Leaders): Danny Hope is squarely on the hot seat and he lost his best player from a year ago (DE Ryan Kerrigan).  That's bad.  But he returns 7 starters on offense and 9 on defense.  That's good.  He has road trips to Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan. That's bad.  But he avoids Nebraska and Michigan State from the other division. That's good! Purdue just seems like a team destined to hover between 5-7 wins this year.

Purdue (Prediction: #5 Leaders): Rob Henry looked poised to really take the reigns to this team but then he went down with an ACL tear. Now it's up to Robert Marve again and while he should be serviceable the fan base doesn't seem as high on him as they were Henry. Purdue has the ability to be pretty good this year and they have the experience but they have to stay healthy. I could easily see this team starting 4-1 or 5-2 but the end of the schedule is brutal. Starting on Oct 29th they go to Michigan, then play at Wisconsin, then they get Ohio State at home and then Iowa at home. Along with Northwestern, they have the earliest off week (but they have a tougher schedule) so by the time they get to play a physical Iowa team they could be physically spent.

 

Wisconsin

Jay (Prediction: #1 Leaders): I was high on this Wisconsin team even before they added Russell Wilson over the summer.  He is by far the most talented QB they've had up there in recent memory.  And, look, he's not going to revolutionize Badger football or anything.  Wisconsin is still going to line up with beefy backs behind a beefy line and ram the football down people's throats.  But when they do find themselves in passing situations, they will be more of a legitimate threat than they've been.  I think Wisconsin's down-field play-action passing is going to be one of the most feared facets of any offense in the country in 2011.  On defense, they'll definitely miss a play-maker like JJ Watt, but they look very solid, all around.  I wouldn't expect them to do any worse than their typical 20-23 ppg yearly average, which should be plenty good enough to win a lot of games when paired with a potent offense.

Ross (Prediction: #1 Leaders; Conference Champion): Are there reasons to be concerned about the Badgers?  Sure.  Losing their best offensive and defensive linemen (Gabe Carimi and J.J. Watt, respectively) is a big blow and while Scott Tolzien was no star at QB, he was steady.  They also have some holes in the receiving game and at linebacker to fill.  So why be so bullish on them?  Russell Wilson could/should be an upgrade over Tolzien and while linemen the caliber of Carimi and Watt don't grow on trees, few programs have been as good at developing linemen (particularly on offense) as the Badgers.  And they still have the most dynamic 1-2 punch at running back in the league (Montee Ball and Jason White), as well as emerging stars at LB (Chris Borland, Mike Taylor).  The schedule is potentially tricky, especially back-to-back late October road trips to Michigan State and Ohio State, but Wisconsin still seems like they have the fewest question marks of any Leaders division team.

Kevin (Prediction: #1 Leaders; Conference Champion): I had these guys pegged as winning this half of the division before they got Russell Wilson. Now I like them even more. I don't think Wilson is going to be the end-all be-all of Big Ten QBs but he will give them an additional dimension that teams will have to game-plan for and will have to be aware of when defending the Badgers. If possible, him being on this team will open up the run a little bit more than last year. Montee Ball and James White are the premier RB duo in the B1G and one of the premier duos in the Nation. I like Wisconsin and I like them in the Rose Bowl.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR PREDICTIONS:

Jay: Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern.  I like Northwestern to have a big year, and Persa has to be a big part of that.  He was highly efficient and productive before he got hurt last year.  He probably won't run as much in 2011, which may hurt his numbers, but no one player will mean more to his team's success than Persa.

Ross: Montee Ball, Wisconsin RB.  He'll lose carries to James White, but based on his production at the end of last year, he could easily put up 1500+ yards and 15+ TDs and be the best player on the league's best team.

Kevin: Dan Persa, Northwestern, WB. I have Northwestern higher than anybody else in this preview so it only makes sense to go Persa here. Persa gives the Wildcats the ability to hang with anybody in the league. As long as he stays healthy they have an outside shot at winning their half of the division.

 

BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR PREDICTIONS:

 Jay: Silas Redd, RB, Penn State.  Evan Royster may have set some records at Penn State, but he never put fear in the heart of anyone's defense.  Redd is a tremendous improvement over Royster in terms of athleticism.  He averaged nearly 6 yards a carry in spot duty last year, tops among Lion running backs by far.  He now inherits the number one spot behind a solidly experienced line.  That, coupled with (hopefully for PSU fans) improved QB play, could lead to a very productive year for Redd.

Ross: Silas Redd, Penn State RB.  Redd flashed as Evan Royster's backup in 2010 (77 carries, 437 yards, 2 TD) and he should excel with an expanded role as the starter this year.  There should be a lot of good running backs in the Big Ten in 2011, but Redd has as much upside as any of them.

Kevin: Braxton Miller, Ohio State, QB. Apparently this is the Silas Redd love fest so I'm going to Columbus with this one. Exit stage for Terrelle Pryor but that opens things up for true freshman Braxton Miller to come in and learn on the job. He won't be great to start the season but by the end of the season he's going to have B1G folks a little worried about next year.

 

 

CFBZ PREDICTED 2011 BIG TEN FINISH


Leaders

1. Wisconsin

2. Ohio State

3. Penn State

4. Illinois

5. Purdue

6. Indiana

 

Legends

1. Nebraska

2. Michigan State

3. Iowa

4. Northwestern

5. Michigan

6. Minnesota

 

Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin over Nebraska