2016 Preseason Big Ten Football Predictions

2016 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW-1

The Big Ten comes down to two teams this year, Ohio State and Michigan.  They’re the league’s two best and will collide in the season finale with a spot in the league title game and potentially a college football playoff spot on the line.  Big Ten football should be strong this season with 11 bowl teams and 11 preseason All-Americans.

2016 Predicted Records and Standings for Big Ten Football:
RANK BIG TEN EAST W L CONF W CONF L
3 Ohio State Buckeyes 11 1 9 0
11 Michigan Wolverines 11 1 8 1
44 Penn State Nittany Lions 8 4 6 3
28 Michigan State Spartans 8 4 6 3
59 Indiana Hoosiers 8 4 5 4
81 Maryland Terrapins 6 6 3 6
100 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 2 10 0 9
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RANK BIG TEN WEST W L CONF W CONF L
25 Iowa Hawkeyes 10 2 7 2
13 Wisconsin Badgers 7 5 5 4
64 Northwestern Wildcats 7 5 4 5
42 Nebraska Cornhuskers 6 6 4 5
67 Illinois Fighting Illini 5 7 3 6
78 Minnesota Golden Gophers 6 6 3 6
99 Purdue Boilermakers 2 10 0 9
2016 Big Ten East Preview

1. Ohio State Buckeyes – Urban Meyer knows how to win so the lack of returning starters shouldn’t damper expectations.  The roster is loaded with talent and J.T. Barrett is experienced at QB and knowing the job is his alone, look for a big season from him.  A trip to Norman to face the Sooners on September 17 could be the difference between a playoff appearance and a bowl game.

2.  Michigan Wolverines – Jim Harbaugh dominated the offseason by consistently stirring the pot.  He’s recruited well and bring back 14 starters.  The Wolverines schedule sets up nicely for them to make a run to the season finale against the Buckeyes which could have a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game on the line.

3.  Penn State Nittany Lions – Christian Hackenberg is in the NFL so the Nittany Lions will have a unfamiliar signal caller for the new, no huddle spread offense.  The skills positions are talented but how quickly will the new offense take hold?  The defense has a new coordinator as well.  The talent is there to win but they’re not ready to challenge the top teams in the Big Ten yet.  The schedule is favorable with Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State coming to State College. 

4.  Michigan State Spartans – Are the Spartans haunted by the 38-0 beatdown Alabama game them in the college football playoff?  The offense has a lot of new faces so they’ll need to come together quickly.  The defense should again be solid but the Spartans will take a step back record wise in 2016.

5.  Indiana Hoosiers – The Hoosiers got to a bowl last season but lost it OT to Duke.  The key to the season will be at QB.  If coach Kevin Wilson can find a consistent passer, a return bowl trip should easily be attainable.  The Hoosiers have talent and a schedule that should give them the opportunity to take another step forward this season.

6.  Maryland Terrapins – D.J. Durkin is the new coach in College Park, coming over from Michigan.  He doesn’t inherit much talent though and the schedule is brutal.  The Terps need to adjust to the new schemes this season and gain experience but we think they surprise and get to six wins and a bowl game.

7.  Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Rutgers comes off a 4-8 season with 15 starters back.  They’re implementing a new uptempo spread offense which needs a talent to be effective.  The defense welcomes back Darius Hamilton so the front four should be solid.  The schedule is brutal and will make for another losing season.

2016 Big Ten West Preview

1.  Iowa Hawkeyes – The Hawkeyes won the West last year and return most of a defense that will anchor the team in 2016.  While the offense will have several new faces, QB C.J. Beathard returns and should give them the leadership to return to the Big Ten title game.

2.  Wisconsin Badgers – Paul Chryst must improve his offense.  The Badgers won 10 games last year largely because of the defense.  They keep them in games and didn’t make the offense light up the scoreboard.  With several new faces on the defense in 2016, the offense will need to help if they’re to contend.  The schedule is challenging and will keep the Badgers from a double digit win season.

3.  Northwestern Wildcats – The Wildcats surprised last year with 10 wins.  The schedule gets much more difficult in conference with games at Iowa, at Michigan State and at Iowa State all in October.  They’re looking for playmakers this season to help a passing attack and take some of the pressure off the defense.   Northwestern will be good but the record will not be like it was in 2015.

4.  Nebraska Cornhuskers – Tommy Armstrong impressed in the bowl game and will look to continue that into his senior season with the Huskers.  They must find a way to win the close games.  While they went 6-7 last year, they had four games they lose by 3 or fewer points.  Losing last year’s opener on the hail mary to BYU, the Huskers never seemed to recover.  A game hosting Oregon on September 17 will tell us a lot about this year’s squad.

5.  Illinois Fighting Illini – The Illini surprised many by hiring Lovie Smith as their new head coach.  Smith took the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl but how will he do in college football after a 21 year absence?  He has talent on the defense and an experience QB in Wes Lunt.  Can he get them to a bowl game?  It’s gonna take an upset or two but the potential is there.

6.  Minnesota Golden Gophers – The Golden Gophers return 14 starters and don’t see Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule in 2016.  With experienced QB Mitch Leidner, they have a stead hand to lead them in close games.  The Gophers will go bowling.

7.  Purdue Boilermakers – Darrell Hazell is feeling the pressure to win in 2016.  A 2-10 2015 has not inspired confidence so 2016 needs to see a major upgrade.  We just don’t predict improvement for the Boilermakers.  They will continue to struggle and go 2-10.

2016 Big Ten Championship Game

Ohio State vs. Iowa

2016 Big Ten Champions

Ohio State

Get bowl projections, preseason All-Americans and more in our 2016 College Football Preview. 2016 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW-1