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Old 08-06-2004, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default My Big Ten preview...

Predicted order of finish...

1) TIED-Michigan State....7-1 ( 10-2 ). John L. Smith will work a bigger miracle in 2004 by getting a share of the Big Ten crown. QB Jeff Smoker is gone, a blow, but Drew Stanton, his likely replacement, comes from the mold of a Krenzel. He manages the game well, and let's everything come to him. A lot of vets in the receiving corps and a host of talented RB's will help out the new QB on offense. A steady line on defense with a good lot of safeties, who will have to make up for suspect corners. Expect improved special teams as well, an area Smith is known to embrace. ONE LOSS-AT MICHIGAN. Out of conf. loss- AT HAWAII.

1) TIED-Ohio State....7-1 ( 10-1). Tressel has the best linebacking corps in the nation and the strongest special teams in the Big Ten, but he also has a suspect offensive and defensive line due to graduation, and a new QB, as Krenzel is gone. As of date, sophmore Justin Zwick is expected to take the snaps, but fellow sophmore Troy Smith ( more mobile) is a close second with freshman Todd Boeckman right on his heels. If Tressel forges ahead with the running game as seniors Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall should improve, he will be fine ( watch out for a kid named Pittman in the future for OSU, he dominated the Spring Game at RB). The lines will come together and gel, as they always have in Columbus. Run, run, bleed, and kick is the way to go. And if Tressel isn't foolish enough to try and open things up with his talented QB's ( this batch is as talented as it gets at OSU), several 12-6 and 15-9 winning games should get OSU a share of another conference crown. ONE LOSS- AT MICH. STATE

1) TIED-Michigan....7-1 ( 10-1). Carr has visions of slants, button hooks,and deep bombs dancing in his head, with a receiving corps that is easily one of, if not THE BEST in college football, nevermind the smash mouth Big Ten. Carr's nightmare is the fact he has lost Navarre and Perry, and needs a new starting QB to throw those passes, and a RB to take the heat off of the receivers. Matt Guiterrez is expected to take the snaps (if he REALLY struggles, things could get tough) and expect a mish mash of RB's to get time as the early season wears on. The defensive line is key. If the line can gel, which is suspect right now, the overall defense in Ann Arbor should be a tough one. The secondary, led by Marlin Jackson,will be outstanding and the strength. There are more question marks then answers in Ann Arbor, just as there are in Columbus. THE GAME goes to OSU this year, as the Bucks spoil the perfect season for Blue. ONE LOSS- AT OHIO STATE.

4) Purdue....5-3 ( 8-3 ). Tiller has 8 starters returning on an explosive high tech offense led by QB Kyle Orton, perhaps the best signal caller in the Big Ten. The question mark on O is the receiving corps, but if Orton can do his duty, he can make good wideouts look great. Defense is the problem and why Purdue will lose at home to OSU and Michigan. Only 3 starters return on a defense ( OUCH !) that was very solid last year. The linebacking corps and d line need TONS of work done on them. I have faith in Tiller though. You don't get 8 wins in the Big Ten without a good defense, and Tiller should get the team to gel somewhat. If not though, even Ohio State might put up 21 points on them.

5)TIED- Iowa...4-4 ( 6-5). I've got Iowa lower then most expect, still doubting Ferentz's abilities. THREE starters return on offense, with a new signal caller and RB in the works. As of now, there needs to be ALOT of gelling if the offense is able to move down the field on the defenses of the Big Ten. Linebackers and the secondary should hold the defense together and the team as well. A new kicker is another monkey wrench for Iowa. Still, I say Ferentz gets 6 wins out of them.

5)TIED- Penn State...4-4 ( 6-5 ). Paterno has no receivers, an average QB in Zach Mills, and a run of the mill RB situation. His lines are so-so, and his secondary has promise. 6 wins, a few close calls both ways, and a season that could be worse if Joe is really getting too old and senile for the game.

5) TIED- Wisconsin...4-4 ( 6-5 ). After beating OSU last year, Alvarez's squad seemed to take the rest of the season off, losing 5 of it's last 6. Sorgi is gone at QB, injury riddled Anthony Davis returns at RB, and Evans is gone in the recieving corps. The O and D lines look solid, and should provide the strength of their wins.

8) Minnesota....3-5 ( 5-6 ). A new QB, less mobile and run happy then Abdul-Khaliq , in Bryan Cupito will run the show for Glen Mason. RB's are the key, with Barber and Maroney, who should give the opposing Big Ten linebackers fits. A solid defense should give Minnesota a chance at another high place finish, but in the end, the Gophers will crumble under the spotlight, as they always do.

9) Northwestern...2-6 ( 4-8 ). A vastly improving secondary and an O line who gave way to the Big Ten's #2 rushing attack last season will be counted on heavily in Evanston.

10) Illinois....1-7 ( 3-8 ). If QB Jon Beutjer can avoid injury this year,unlike last, and live up to atleast some of the hype surrounding him, Illinois may be able to put up points with a talented RB and recieving corps. Problems abound on the lines, and if they don't gel GREATLY, forget those talented skill people, they'll be in hospital beds. Coach Turner gets the pink slip at season's end, if not sooner.

11) Indiana....0-8 ( 1-10). Wanna know how bad they are? Ohio State might score 40 points against them. Yep, that says it all.
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