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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

College Previewkakke: B1G Leaders Division Preview


Finally we have arrived at the B1G (isn’t that easier to digest than “Big 10+2-Penn State and Ohio State kind of”?), and, by default, we have to start in the division with two teams who will not matter at all to anybody ever this season (or, in PSU’s case, for many years into the future).

So what the hell happened to the B1G? Where did the league known for infinitely replaceable, immobile, white quarterbacks go? Didn’t this league used to be the last bastion of pro-style game plans in the entire NCAA? Suddenly 7 of the 12 teams run some form of spread, 2 of the 12 just run (and neither of those two were even here 30 years ago… who was supposed to guard the door?!), and we’re left with only three teams still running some semblance of NFL game plan. Leaving Iowa and MSU for the Legends division, that leads us nicely to Wisconsin, the current dominant B1G team.

It’s still strange to say something like that in a conference featuring Michigan and Ohio State, and I didn’t even grow up during a time in which Michigan was great. Somehow Wisconsin has managed to pull together several great seasons in a row on the strength of… well, the same exact thing Wisconsin always did well with; great offensive lines, better running backs (and at least one offensive lineman PLAYING running back at all times), solid defense, and the same quarterback you could swear has been there since you were born (The Russell Wilson aberration notwithstanding. Lord knows the only reason he transferred to Wiscy is because he didn’t want to change jersey colors).

Their competition in the Leaders has been… removed? Yes, that’s a nice way to put it. Ohio State is still serving time for selling things they earned for other things they wanted (yeah, the bigger deal was that Tressel lied about it, but seriously: if I fucking win something I should be able to sell it all I want), and Penn State is… well, they’re going to be busy with lawsuits and things (AVOIDING OBVIOUS SUBJECT MATTER). So the remaining competition is… oh jesus. Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana? I won’t even have to try with this one. What follows are 100% accurate predictions for the Leaders this season! Wow, they need to change that division name:

Team                                           Overall W-L                        Conference W-L

Wisconsin                                          11-1                                        7-1

Illinois                                                  8-4                                        5-3

Ohio State                                           7-5                                        3-5

Purdue                                                 5-7                                        2-6

Penn State                                            4-8                                        2-6

Indiana                                                  3-9                                        0-8

Wisconsin: Wisconsin returns Montee Ball, who is the reason Wisconsin can’t have nice things (and turn up the difficulty setting if you’re going to play Indiana! Jesus, just like a five year old, playing NCAA Football on Rookie difficulty…), a stout defense, and reshuffles their offensive line (which means nothing; if there’s one thing Wisconsin will always have it’s a solid line). Pretty much everything is fine and dandy and… oh shit, your quarterback is Danny O’Brien? The guy that “progressed” to do this? Wow, I have to say, just because one ACC QB transfer worked, it doesn’t mean Jesus is going to descend from on high to transmute this sack of garbage into Peyton Manning. Not that this matters, of course, because Russell Wilson was a one-year thing. Don’t forget that Wisconsin has always run one offense and one defense. And this year, in this division, it doesn’t matter if they have dead weight at QB. Beyond an away game at Nebraska, Wisconsin has a schedule filled with lollipops, rainbows, and Indiana (At least play on All-American?!) with their only other challenge coming at home against Michigan State. 10-2 is this team’s basement. Best Possible Inaccuracy: I have them losing at Nebraska and winning at home versus MSU. That could be the other way around. Wisconsin will certainly lose one of those games.

Illinois: Just to make this clear, that opening rant on B1G offenses had a point to it. Who are the dominant teams in the B1G right now? Pro-style teams. It’s like the last bastions of pro offenses are trying to hold down the fort, desperately bracing their doors against the Denards and Braxtons and… Scheelhaases… of the world? Sure, why not? Illinois will now fully embrace the idea of a spread they ran before (it was just an idea because… Zook) and Scheelhaase wouldn’t exactly be the worst quarterback to run a spread I’ve ever seen… but he ain’t no Reggie Ball neither (not a compliment). The kid was a one-trick pony last year, and when opposing defenses picked up on how he was staring down A.J. Jenkins with tender loving affection his numbers fell through the floor (as did Illinois’ win total). Now Jenkins is gone, and the Spring game and practices haven’t shown much in the way of improvement for Scheelhaase. Lucky for the Illini, the rest of their team is solid. They had a fantastic defense last year (and even a drafted Whitney Mercillus won’t hurt much) and have a lot of potential at RB. If Scheelhaase can look at-GASP-two receivers during the course of a given play, I think the Illini can manage to beat the cream puffs on their schedule and even finish the year with a win at Northwestern to get to 8-4 (Yeah, their schedule is that nice. They play at Wisconsin, at Michigan, at OSU, and at Arizona State… then they play 7 of the easiest home games in the country). Best Possible Inaccuracy: Scheelhaase is such unmitigated hot garbage that Illinois actually manages to lose, not only to just NW, but also to either Purdue, Minnesota, or Penn State at home.

Ohio State: Ohio State has given the media the same disorder Texas seems to be passing on. You know the one, where everybody forgets the team was god-awful and decides they’ll get ten wins because, well, tOSU! (or Texas!... to go with the metaphor). Lest we all forget: OSU was painfully mediocre last season. Braxton Miller cannot pass. And I don’t mean that in a funny-haha-oh-jeez-he’s-being-spiteful kind of way. Watching this guy attempt to complete passes is a Benny Hill routine. The OSU RB situation isn’t great either. The offensive line is in transition. The entire defense is in shambles. And let us not forget that everyone in Ohio seems to be casually forgetting that the reason Florida is so boned right now is all because of Urban Meyer. So, to summarize, a team that looked bad last year, has the same QB, graduated a bunch of experience, and has only a small semblance of a returning back 7 on defense, plus has to learn an entirely new offense… will improve upon their performance last season? Suuuuuuuure. Best Possible Inaccuracy: OSU would have to pull off a win at MSU, vs. Nebraska, at Wisconsin, or vs. Michigan to get to 9 wins. I have them losing all four of those and also at Penn State because… I just think that would be funny.

Purdue: There is a lot of rumbling that Purdue could challenge for something this year… I just refuse to believe it. Purdue has been too mediocre for far too long and nothing has changed enough for this season to suggest they will improve any further. They play 3 QBs. Who does that? Best Possible Inaccuracy: If they win at Minnesota they could get to 6-6 and make a bowl game. Nobody ever wants to hear those words.

Penn State: Additional sanctions I would like to impose while PSU is accepting them: Force them to put player names on their jerseys. Put a logo on your damn helmets. Change your mascot; “Nittany Lion” is lame. Just… let both your quarterbacks go. Both of them suck (ed. Hey! After this was written Rob Bolden transferred!). In all seriousness here, I picked PSU to finish 4-8 BEFORE the sanctions were announced and Silas Redd was being courted (fairly hot and heavily) by Kiffykins… so you can only imagine how down on them I am NOW. PSU was bad last year, and they only managed those wins because of an absolutely monstrous defense. So… they hired Ted Roof to coach their defense. Ted Roof is a bad defensive coordinator. Let’s couple this with a secondary that is 100% new and a defensive line that is almost 100% new and… well, this team is going to suck. I didn’t even add in that whole other mess either. Trying to avoid it, since I’m sure you’ve all read well more than enough about it already. Anyways, this team was destined for badness before the hammer fell, and it sucks they’ll be able to blame their badness on NCAA sanctions. Best Possible Inaccuracy: They’re losing that first game to Ohio. And they also get one of the most difficult schedules in the B1G this year. Maybe they can scrape together 5 wins? I doubt it.

Indiana: They are still Indiana. That will not change any time soon.


The exact standings will be as follows:

Wisconsin 11-1, 7-1 Conference

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Iggins! here, although I think Danny O'Brien will be fine, since Wisconsin QB's need only be able to run a play action boot leg against 9 man fronts. Does it seem like we have a lot of teams going 11-1 this year? Have we predicted anyone to go undefeated? The BCS must be fucked this year. (ed. Red has one unbeaten: USC, and I have one: LSU)

Ohio State 9-3, 5-3 Conference

They return 9 starters on a very good defense, Urban Meyer will at least muster some kind of respectability out of this offense (but to those who think he's going to instantly turn Braxton Miller into Black Tebow, seriously, go drink some Liquid Plumber), and Ohio State will make their way to 9-3.

Illinois 8-4, 4-4 Conference

I hate this. I don't want to fall into this trap again. I've predicted Illinois to go 8-4 pretty much every year since they went to the Rose Bowl in 2007. If you've been paying attention, I've been right zero times. This year I came in determined to predict them at 5-7 in order to get back at them, and, well, logically they should go 8-4. They've got only 14 returning starters, but 7 on each side of the ball at nearly all of the most important positions. Beckman should at least be more consistent than Zook, but...Christ. Illinois isn't going to get to 8 wins. They'll be that team that loses at home to Penn State and gives that horrible fucking fanbase some reason to shout “WE ARE....child rape defenders.” Watch them lose at Arizona State even though that team's going to suck because, ooh, look, West Coast. Where's the fucking scotch?

Purdue 6-6, 4-4 Conference

Purdue football is depressing. There was a time under Brees and Orton when they were about the most exciting product in the Big 10. Now... not so much. This is a better team, talent-wise, than last year, but their schedule is rough. 6 wins would be a success.

Penn State 3-9, 1-7 Conference

They were going to be terrible with only 9 returning starters before the doomhammer hit. Now they'll be lucky to beat Indiana. I'm 99.9% sure they're going to lose to Navy. Fuck them.

Indiana 4-8, 0-8 Conference.

They're on their way up. Maybe. Probably not, though.

TO SUMMARIZE: Only difference here is a small one about tOSU. Legends division soon, then BCS predictions to wrap this whole mess up in a nice little bow. ANTICIPATE IT.

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