Last season, the Big Ten conference welcomed Nebraska and many experts believed they would win the football conference championship. It didn’t go as planned as Wisconsin wound up representing the conference in the Rose Bowl.
This upcoming season however, there really isn’t a clear-cut favorite to win the conference championship as it appears the Big Ten is as wide open as it’s ever been in recent memory. While there are new coaches at Illinois and Ohio State, there could be some surprises in store for one of the premier conferences in college football in 2012.
While Wisconsin proved to be one of the more consistent teams in the conference last season, they did have some struggles closing out games against Michigan State and Ohio State and nearly lost the conference championship game against the Spartans.
The Badgers lost a lot of their core players to graduation this year and could find themselves battling to reach the top of the Leaders Division for a second consecutive season.
Michigan State on the other hand also lost most of their star players to the NFL Draft and will have a tough time this season with a new quarterback under center. The Spartans could find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Legends Division in 2012.
One team that may be poised to run away this conference could be Michigan as they will return majority of their starters from last season, including Denard Robinson, one the better quarterbacks in the country. The Wolverines could very well win the conference championship as no other team can compete with their explosive offense.
Ohio State and Illinois will be led by new head coaches this season and will experience growing pains throughout 2012. I believe Ohio State will be better than last year as they have Urban Meyer calling plays on the sideline.
For Illinois, they will have to adjust to a new scheme on offense and deal with the losses of their best defensive players. The Fighting Illini will struggle early on but will have to make key adjustments to compete in this conference.
My sleeper pick in this conference could be Northwestern. Even though they lost two of their most productive offensive weapons, the Wildcats will have Kain Colter and Kyle Prater on offense which could cause problems for most defenses in the Big Ten. This could very well be a team that surprises a lot of people in the country.
With the season four months away from beginning, it’s never too early to make predictions as they could change before September. This season has the look of being a very entertaining one in the Big Ten.
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