College football season is getting closer and one sure sign is that everyone is giving their predictions on how the season will play out.
In the Big Ten, it is very difficult to try and predict how the season will go before a single game is ever played. Teams that are supposed to win the conference often times do not, and players who are supposed to win individual awards find themselves not even nominated. Trying to predict how the 2011 season will end in the Big Ten is about as probable as hitting a royal flush.
Though the odds are not stacked in my favor, I am going to try and predict how I think the Big Ten will play out this season.
LEGENDS DIVISION CHAMPIONS
I think this division will be a three team race between Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State, with the winner being decided close to the end of the season. What ultimately gives the Hawkeyes an edge over the other teams in this division is their schedule this season. Iowa doesn’t have to play Wisconsin or Ohio State and many tough divisional games for them are at home.
The Hawkeyes have one the best offensive lines in the country and Marcus Coker proved he has what it takes to be a great back in this league.
LEADERS DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Wisconsin has one the best running duos in the country and they are going to very difficult to stop on offense this season. Quarterback was a position viewed as weakness coming into this season but that quickly became a strength with the addition of Russell Wilson.
I don’t think the Badgers will go undefeated this season but I think they can fend off Ohio State for a Leaders Division Championship.
Iowa pulls off the upset in the inaugural Big Ten Conference Championship game and will be headed to the Rose Bowl. This game will feature three of best running backs in the Big Ten and I look for it to be a high scoring game.
I am predicting that Iowa avenges their loss from last season against Wisconsin and wins 38-31.
BIG TEN OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR
Since this award was created in 1990, no player has ever won the award in consecutive seasons and I think this streak continues this season. Denard Robinson is the favorite to win this award heading into 2011 but this year but Kirk Cousins will win.
Cousins is one of most experienced quarterbacks in the Big Ten and has enough play-makers around him to have a great season in 2011. He is already very high on NFL draft boards and I think he will have an outstanding year that will make him a first round draft pick in April.
BIG TEN DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
This guy will not only be the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten this season but will also be a top contender to win the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player in college football).
Crick is a force to be reckoned with on that defensive line for the Huskers and has earned first-team all-conference honors in the Big 12 the past two seasons. He will give opposing Big Ten offensive lineman fits this season and will hear his name early in the first round in the NFL draft.
* – Marcus Coker photo credit: via ESPN