I’ll be honest. Since quitting betting on NCAA football, my knowledge and interest in Big Ten football has waned somewhat. I still watch the big games, but I’d much rather watch the SEC than the Big Ten in search for sheer enjoyment.
But the 2007 season will be different. The Big Ten claims four legitimate good teams which, if they didn’t have to all play each other, could be top 10 teams. All four have fantastic chances to finish in the top 20, and at least three could take a BCS Bowl spot.
So here is my predictions for the 2007 Big Ten football season:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Michigan State
Go ahead and not worry about the teams rated 5 through 11. I’ll be honest–those teams’ finish could be reversed and I wouldn’t be totally shocked. But the Big Ten football season is going to come down to which team plays the best against the others in the ‘Big 4’–Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State.
I like Penn State’s squad, and returning quarterback Tony Morelli could have a breakout season as the conference’s best signal caller. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions and decrepid Joe Paterno, they have to go to the Big House in Ann Arbor in September, so that will ruin any chance of Penn State running the table. Also, I believe they will drop their home matchups with Wisconsin on October 13 and THE Ohio State University on October 27. Also, the last game of the season, at Michigan State, could pose a major problem. That game will probably decide 4th place.
Wisconsin is a very trendy pick to not only win the Big Ten but also contend for the National Championship. Their defense is very strong, and running back P.J. Hill is a bruiser reminiscent of Ron Dayne. But even if they survive their relatively easy early schedule, they go to Columbus to play the Buckeyes on November 3. That is probably a loss. A week later they return to Camp Randall to play the team I believe will win the conference, Michigan. I see Wisconsin finishing the regular season 10-2.
So that leaves the usual two, Michigan and Ohio State. Michigan returns three very talented offensive playmakers in quarterback Chad Henne, running back Michael Hart, and wide receiver Mario Manningham, who missed a few games in 2006 but should be healthy for the upcoming season. Ohio State returns running back Beansie Wells and a very good defense. But there is some questions at quarterback, as three different players vie to play behind center this year and replace Troy Smith.
As last year, the conference and perhaps National Championship hopes will ride on the November 17 matchup between the Buckeyes and Wolverines in Ann Arbor. I think that although defense usually beats offense, the big three of Henne, Hart, and Manningham will be too much for the strong Ohio State defense to handle.
I see Michigan running the table and, depending on the silly BCS, possibly playing for the National Championship this year.