2012 Big Ten Preview: Leaders Division

Another year, another preview of two of the lamest named divisions in college football history. The Leaders Division of The Big Ten consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Two of these teams will not be eligible to play for The Big Ten title or a bowl game. Does Wisconsin run away with the division? Will a dark horse challenge The Fighting Brett Bielema’s? Will Penn State and Ohio State play with a chip on their shoulder and play spoiler?

The Top Dog:

The Badgers have all-everything tailback Montee Ball returning from his record setting 2011 season and another free agent QB in the fold. Danny O’Brien comes to Wisconsin via Maryland, home of the worst jerseys on Earth.

O’Brien is not nearly as good as Russell Wilson who lit it up for the Badgers last year. (You are now instructed to click on Russell Wilson’s name to see his wife reacting to him being drafted to the NFL)

O’Brien will be solid, but this team, as it always has been, is built around their massive offensive line and an outstanding running back. Montee Ball amassed over 2200 yards from scrimmage and 39 TDs. Truly video game type numbers (well, if you are playing vs. el Kaiser, who is horrible at NCAA Football 13 on the Xbox 360). Offensively The Badgers will be down, with the loss of Wilson and the key to their season will end up being O’Brien who will have big shoes to fill. If O’Brien can’t produce, watch for Joe Brennan to get the nod.

Defensively, Wisky will have some question marks on the defensive line and in the secondary but they are loaded at linebacker with Chris Borland and Mike Taylor.

Brett Bielema will have this team ready and they are definitely in the drivers seat in a watered down division hampered by NCAA sanctions. They could finish 3rd and make it to the conference title game. But I don’t see them taking a back seat to anyone in the division.

The Post Seasonly Challenged:

How do you overcome the loss of a tremendously successful head coach and an ugly bout with the NCAA and lingering sanctions? You go out and hire the best college football coach in the country. Nope, I’m not talking about Bill O’Brien. I’m of course talking about Urban Meyer.

Meyer will bring his proven track record to the Buckeyes and that includes the much publicized spread option offense. His offense typically thrives when he has a dynamic dual threat quarterback and he has one of those in Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Braxton Miller.

The Ohio State offense will be like nothing we have seen at OSU in maybe ever. It will be a high octane, high energy aggressive in your face assault. There will be weapons all over the field. Young wide receivers Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Philly Brown. Running backs Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, and true freshman Bri’onte Dunn. Everyone is excited to see what Tight End Jake Stoneburner can do and there have been whispers that outstanding fullback Zach Boren will tote the rock as well. The offense will be a no huddle, hurry up style from the mold of the Oregon Ducks. The only difference will be that Ohio State will still play defense.

Speaking of defense, the Buckeyes are loaded this year once again. Last year they had a down year and are looking to bounce back. John Simon and Jonathon Hankins leads the defensive line, while the linebackers will be a group of very athletic players lead by playmaking sophomore Ryan Shazier. The defensive backfield with be lead by Bradley Roby. The safeties will hopefully bounce back from a down year.

This is a whole new world for Penn State. Gone is a vast majority of the old regime along with some key players including Silas Redd who is off to USC.. New to The Nittany Lions is head coach Bill O’Brien and a boatload of NCAA sanctions thanks to the Jerry Sandusky coverup.

Here is the running list of Penn State players that have transferred or decommitted:

Justin Brown – Oklahoma
Tim Buckley – NC State
Rob Bolden – LSU
Anthony Fera – Texas
Khairi Fortt – Cal
Kevin Haplea – FSU
Ryan Nowicki – Illinois
Jamil Pollard – Rutgers
Silas Redd- USC

Dorian Johnson – Possible Ohio State target
Ross Douglas – Committed to Michigan
Will Fuller – Committed to Notre Dame

Offensively this team will be a complete and total train wreck. Without star running back Silas Redd, Penn State will rely heavily on terrible ginger quarterback Matt McGloin who split time last year with recently transferred (and equally terrible quarterback) Rob Bolden. Paul Jones will be nipping at the heals of the magic ginger. Hopefully McGloin won’t get knocked out brawling with any of his wide receivers like last year. If the Penn State spring game is any indication, The Fighting Freeh Reports will be worse than I think they will be. The top three QB’s accounted for under 50% passing and 5 interceptions.

Defensively Penn State will be stout once again, lead by All Angry Team linebacker Mike Mauti. Mauti spent most of the offseason working out his vocal cords telling the world how mad he is at Emmert, the NCAA, Illinois, The Smurfs, candy, slip’n slides, Voltron and Jessica Tandy. For those of you playing at home, Jessica Tandy is currently the #2 tailback on PSU’s roster.

It will be interesting to see how O’brien fairs in his first year as a head coach…of anything. Right now he is doing and saying all the right things however he has coached in exactly zero football games. Last year I thought OSU would be fine with first year coach Luke Fickell…boy was I wrong. Being a successful coordinator is much different than being a successful head coach. Time will tell for Mr. O’brien.

The Hopefuls:

Our old friend Tim Beckman, former cornerbacks coach at Ohio State has taken over for the Zooker. While the players were busy working out and prepping for fall practice their coaches were hiding in dumpsters, behind curtains and under cars waiting for Penn State players and a chance to poach them.

Nathan Scheelhaase will lead a revamped Illini offense that will look for the junior quarterback to sling it more than he totes it. Scheelhaase is a very athletic and talented player that will spell success or doom for his team. He doesn’t have a treasure trove of help as Donovonn Young will get the brunt of the work at running back splitting time with Josh Ferguson. Young is, well, young, but could be a valuable cog in the Illini offense. Gone is outstanding wide receiver A.J. Jenkins to the NFL. The slack will have to be picked up by a gaggle of solid WR’s in, Darius Millines, Spencer Harris and Jon Davis who combined for 67 catches in 2011.

Defensively the Illini are usually stingy and this year they return defensive linemen Michael Buchanan, Akeem Spence, Justin Staples and Glenn Foster. This quartet of big eaters helped Illinois to an impressive 7th ranked defense in the nation last year.

Illinois could be a team to sneak into the Big Ten title game with PSU and OSU down for the count. Their defense will lead the way along with their talented quarterback. They are definitely a team to watch.

The Boilermakers have logjam at quarterback and that is not a good thing. The have: Robert Marve, Caleb TerBush and Rob Henry (who is a good athlete and could play other positions) all vying for the top spot. There isn’t a top notch talent among them and with all three possibly getting playing time none of them will become effective QB’s. With three departures from last years offensive line and a line hampered by injuries, Purdue’s offense could be awful this year.

The Boilermaker defense relies on gimmicky formations and lots of movement before the ball is snapped. They are blitz happy and try to disguise everything they do to make up for the lack of superior athletes on defense.

Bottom line for Purdue — the are in some trouble this year.

Tre Roberson comes into his sophomore year after having a moderately successful season last year. He is a good athlete in the right offense to showcase his skills. OSU fans should remember him keeping a bad Indiana team in the game last year until the fourth quarter.

Other than Roberson, their entire team is terrible. Their running game is terrible. Their WR’s are terrible. Their entire defense is terrible. Last year The Hoosiers were 1-11 and this year will most likely be no different.

Predictions:

1. Ohio State
2. Wisconsin
3. Illinois
4. Penn State
5. Purdue
6. Indiana

Ohio State plays an easy schedule this year and a ton of home games against good Big Ten foes. They should “win” the division but will have to bow down to the runner up who should be Wisconsin. Penn State’s defense will be good enough to keep them from being terrible. I still think Illinois will push Wisconsin for the title.

Comments

  1. Great post Kade once again I agree completely with you :)…. Which means El Kaiser and SportsMonkey will come and say we are dead wrong soon.

  2. You are TOTALLY WRONG, Kade.

    No way Jessica Tandy slips to the #2 spot on PSU’s roster.

  3. I’ve said it for years….Tandy’s pad level is way too high and coaches took notice.

    She runs with hesitation and has fear in her eyes.

  4. I personally took issue with all these “Indiana’s terrible” comments with no stats or reasons to back them up, I mean come on! We’re talking Indiana here.

    Oh, we’re talking about football? NEVERMIND.

  5. I did give you stats to back them up…they were 1-11:D

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