It's not going to be an easy race for anyone in the Big Ten in '08. The role emotion plays in College Football will be tested in the Big Ten, Pac 10 and throughout the nation in the BCS and FCS this year.
The preseason magazines basically called Ohio State a consensus pick in '08. No one picked anyone other than Ohio State.
Can anyone really go against Ohio State, when they have owned the Big Ten of late? Is Penn State really ready to slide back in on the top of the Big Ten ladder? Unlike 2005, Penn State travels to Columbus to play this year. Joe Pa hasn't had success in Columbus. Actually, in the past 5 years... Penn State only has one win vs. Ohio State (2005).
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1 in '07) - Tall order for Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes, but they are still the team to beat in the Big Ten.
2. (tie) Penn State Nittany Lions and Iowa Hawkeyes (both 4-4 in '07) - I'll get a lot of static for going with Iowa, but Iowa has a favorable record with both PSU and Wisconsin playing at Kinnick in '08. PSU looks solid entering '08, but how will they handle the pressure as the season unfolds?
4. Wisconsin Badgers (5-3 in '07) - Bret Bielema has not won a Big Ten title, after two years of head coaching. He has some good play makers, but its a long Big Ten season.
5. (tie) Michigan State Spartans and Northwestern Wildcats (both 3-5 in '07) - The Spartans are a popular choice to move up the Big Ten ladder with second year coach Mark Dantonio, while the Wildcats bring an experienced team a key spots on the roster in coach Pat Fitzgerald's third year.
7. Purdue Boilermakers (3-5 in '07) - Coach Joe Tiller is a lame duck led by a senior QB Curtis Painter, but Hope will have to wait for the future... that is coach Danny Hope, who will replace Joe after returning to West Lafayette after five years as head coach at Eastern Kentucky. He will coach offensive line in '08.
8. (tie) Michigan Wolverines and Illinois Fighting Illini (both 6-2 in '07) - Both programs will have some rebuilding to do. Michigan is rebuilding under new coach Rich Rodriquez and his new offensive philosophy. Illinois lost star RB Rashard Mendenhall and and some key players on defense... look for coach Ron Zook to be in a rebuilding mode at times in '08.
10. Minnesota Gophers (0-8 in '07) - The Gophers will spoil someones Saturday this year... coach Tim Brewster's team isn't likely going to go down the same win less again path in '08.
11. Indiana Hoosiers (3-5 in '07) - Remarkable season in '07, with the late coach Terry Hoeppner's replacement Bill Lynch leading the Hoosiers to their first bowl game, since the 1993 Independence Bowl bid. Don't look for another Cinderella season in '08.
The Big Ten should be better in bowl action in '08, but the conference will take some knocks again as the season unfolds in '08.