Monday, August 25, 2008

College Football Projections: Big Ten

The Conference That Can’t Count, aka the Big Ten, enters this season with a questionable national reputation, as Ohio State has dominated the conference for two seasons in a row only to be plastered by SEC teams in the BCS National Championship Game. But, as people in Columbus will tell you, it’s better to lose the National Championship Game than to win the Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn Bowl. Actually, I don’t know if anyone in Columbus would say that, but it’s true.

Ohio State will be the king of the mountain in this conference once again. They should be favored in every game except a September trip to the Coliseum in Los Angeles, where USC awaits. I do not see them going undefeated, but they will win the conference. This would send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl, where they have not appeared in over a decade.

The rest of the conference is anyone’s guess. Wisconsin should be good enough to finish second. After that, Penn State and Michigan should be respectable, as usual. In addition, Michigan State and Iowa should be able to contend for a first division finish. Illinois and Purdue will be decent as well, though the Illini should take a step back from last year’s Rose Bowl appearance.

Dragging bottom in the Big Ten will be Minnesota, Indiana, and Northwestern. Northwestern has an unfavorable schedule, but has a chance to outperform expectations. Indiana will crash back to earth after last season’s bowl appearance. Minnesota can’t help but improve over last season’s victory total: one.

Projected Finish:
Ohio State 11-1, 8-0
Wisconsin 10-2, 6-2
Penn State 9-3, 5-3
Iowa 8-4, 5-3
Michigan State 8-4, 5-3
Michigan 8-4, 4-4
Illinois 7-5, 4-4
Purdue 7-5, 4-4
Minnesota 5-7, 2-6
Indiana 4-8, 1-7
Northwestern 3-9, 0-8

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