Sunday, August 30, 2015

The 120th season of Big Ten Football kicks off during Week 1 of the 2015 season!

The Road to the B1G East vs. West 2015 ...

Three Top 25 teams in the Big Ten:

Ohio State welcomes back senior QB 5 Braxton Miller, who
missed 2014, but will move to H-back in 2015 for Urban Meyer.
Ohio State opens 2015 on ESPN @ Virginia Tech on Labor Day.

      Michigan State senior QB 18 Connor Cook returns in 2015,
      but his Top 3 RBs and Top 2 WRs have departed. Also,
      DC Pat Narduzzi has departed in 2015 to become HC at Pitt.
      The Spartans travel @ Western Mchigan on Friday night
      to open 2015 season vs. coach P.J. Fleck's Broncos.

    Dean of the Big Ten coach, Kirk Ferentz meet Paul Chryst in 2014,
    in his final season  at Pitt. The Hawkeyes will kickoff the 2015
    B1G season at Wisconsin, in Chryst's Big Ten debut on 10/3.
    Wisconsin, for the second straight season travel to Texas, to open
    against a SEC opponent, this year, vs. Alabama in Arlington on
    Saturday night. The Badgers are coming off a bowl win over Auburn.
  1. Ohio State (14-1) - The defending national champion Buckeyes are primed to repeat in Urban Meyer's fourth season (38-3) in Columbus? The Buckeyes certainly are primed to repeat in the Big Ten, with two solid quarterbacks and Braxton Miller in a new role. Winners of the first College Football Playoff seek more in 2015 lead by a talented group of players, including junior RB Ezekiel Elliott.
  2. Michigan State (11-2) - The Spartans have a new set of co-defensive coordinators, as Mark Dantonio (75-31) looks to get back to #1 in the conference (2013), after coming in second in the first season of the B1G East. Dantonio is in his ninth season as head coach in East Lansing. 
  3. Wisconsin (11-3) - The Badgers have a new coach. The third coach in three seasons, but the defending B1G West division titleholder welcomes home Paul Chryst to Madison, after three seasons leading Pitt (19-19) into the ACC. The Badgers have a lot to lose (2012, last B1G title), as they transition to a new head coach, in a very short period ...

Who's next in the Big Ten pecking order?
Nebraska junior QB 4 Tommy Armstrong, Jr. adjusts to a new
coach, as Mike Riley, brings his brand of football to Lincoln,
after a long tenure at Oregon State. The Huskers open 2015
on Saturday, hosting Brigham Young in the non-conference.
On Black Friday, Iowa's senior 95 Drew Ott will close out
the 2015 B1G regular season in Lincoln in his home state.
Michigan may call on former Iowa QB
15 Jake Rudock to lead the 2015
Wolverine offense, as they open at Utah
on Thursday night, 9/3 in Coach
Jim Harbaugh's debut at his alma mater.

  • Nebraska (9-4) - The Cornhuskers welcome a new coach of their own, as former Oregon State head coach Mike Riley (93-80 in 14 years, two stints) moves over to Lincoln. The Cornhuskers have offensive holes to fill and the defense hasn't been up to the glory years of the 1990s. The year 1999 was the last league title for the Cornhuskers. That was in another conference and several coaches ago. Nebraska is 22-10 in the first four seasons, in the Big Ten. The Huskers lost 70-31 in the 2012 Big Ten title game and lost 59-24 at Wisconsin, last season. 
  • Michigan (5-7) - The last B1G title for the Wolverines was in 2004. under coach Lloyd Carr. Those days have long past for Michigan, as they welcome their third coach, since Carr. The Wolverines have hired former QB Jim Harbaugh to lead the renewal in Ann Arbor. The four year letterman at QB under Bo Schembechler has created plenty of buzz in Ann Arbor. They say defense wins championships, but the Michigan offense has been a "mess" as others have pointed out over the past several seasons. Former Iowa two-year starting QB Jake Rudock transferred to Michigan, as a fifth year senior. Rudock is projected to start in Thursday's season opener for the Wolverines at Utah.
  • Penn State (7-6) - James Franklin begins year two at the helm for the Nittany Lions, as they saw probation pulled during the 2014 season. The Nittany Lions were allowed to play in a 2014 bowl game, with a trip to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl (31-30 OT win over Boston College). The last league title for the Nittany Lions was in 2008, back when Joe Paterno was still king in Happy Valley. It wasn't an outright title, though. Depth is still a concern in State College, but junior QB Christian Hackenberg leads the Nittany Lions, while junior Akeel Lynch leads the rushing attack.
Juniors 22 Akeel Lynch and 14 Christian Hackenberg lead
the Penn State Nittany Lion offense for Coach Franklin in 2015.
How will Coach Franklin clean up play, after a 2-6 Big Ten season?

Who is next in the Big Ten pecking order heading into the 2015 season?

Iowa has selected junior QB 16 C.J. Beathard to lead the Hawkeyes in 2015.
Senior TE 87 Jake Duzey will hopefully be back for Big Ten play, as
he recovers from a MCL injury, during the Spring. Iowa had a very
disappointing season in 2014. The dean of the Big Ten has work
ahead, with a mix of experience and youth with the Hawkeyes.

  • Iowa (7-6) - The Hawkeyes are 11-13 in the Big Ten the past three seasons, 19-21 the past five seasons, after falling to Ohio State 30-27, in OT, in 2009, in Columbus, for the Big Ten title. Kirk Ferentz has 115 wins as a member of the Big Ten Conference, the ninth most in conference history. He has 68 Big Ten wins, also the ninth most in conference history. He is 1-of-8 coaches to rank among the top 10 in both categories. The others include Woody Hayes (OSU), Amos Alonzo Stagg (CHI), Bo Schembechler (MICH), Hayden Fry (IOWA), Robert Zuppke (ILL), Lloyd Carr (MICH), and Barry Alvarez (WIS). Ferentz also has six bowl wins as a member of the Big Ten, tying Fry and Carr for No. 2 all-time. Only Alvarez has more (9). Iowa fans are restless, especially with Ferentz 7-9 record in the Cy-Hawk series.
  • Northwestern sophomore RB 28 Justin
    Jackson is back, after a challenging year
    as a true freshman in 2014. Pat Fitzgerald
    has announced redshirt freshman Clayton
    Thorson will lead the Wildcats in the home
    opener vs. Stanford on Saturday.
  • Northwestern (5-7) - Pat Fizgerald enters his tenth season, after back to back 5-7 seasons, coming off Northwestern's first bowl win, since 1949, during the 2012 season, over Mississippi State. The Wildcats will have a new QB. The only B1G West program, with a new quarterback in 2015.
  • Minnesota junior QB 7 Mitch Leidner leads his run-pass attack
    for coach Jerry Kill and the Golden Gophers. Minnesota opens
    2015 on Saturday in a prime time game on ESPN vs. #2 TCU.
  • Minnesota (8-5) - Jerry Kill is entering his fifth season, after stops at Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois, outside the Power 5 conferences. Kill is 0-8 in bowl games, including three straight losses for the Golden Gophers. It is his team now. His players, with two key running backs departed, his two top receivers and the two leading tacklers from last season's 5-3 Big Ten finish, with big wins over Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska. Two trophy wins for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but another loss vs. Wisconsin. The Gophers have not won, since 2003, in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Ax. It is the longest win streak in the game's history. The rivalry began in 1890. The Golden Gophers open 2015 in prime time vs. #2 TCU on Saturday.

The Big Ten grew to 14 in 2014 with Maryland and Rutgers

Rutgers opened Big Ten play with a 3-5 record (26-24 win
over Michigan) to go with an overall record of 8-5, with a
42-21 bowl win in Quick Lane Bowl over North Carolina
for coach Kyle Flood in his 3rd season.
  • Rutgers (8-5) - Ryan Flood enters his fourth season at the helm of the Scarlet Knights. The 2015 season opens on Saturday with a FCS opponent, Norfolk State. But, the rest of September is Washington State, the B1G opener at Penn State, then Homecoming against Kansas. Only ten starters return (5 on each side) for the 2015 season. Here is a look at the 2015 Scarlet Knight roster.
  • Maryland will make first trip ever to Kinnick Stadium on Halloween.
    Iowa senior WR 17 Jacob Hillyer in the 2014 game in College Park.
    The Terrapins won the first ever match up with the Hawkeyes 38-31.
  • Maryland (7-6) - Randy Edsall enters his fifth season leading the Terrapins to back to back bowl bids, though 0-2 in bowl games. Like Rutgers, Maryland returns ten starters back (6 on offense, 4 on defense) for 2015. The Terrapins will open the season on Saturday vs. Richmond in College Park.         

Bottom Three of the Big Ten heading into 2015 ...

Indiana senior QB 7 Nate Sudfeld's season ended at Kinnick Stadium
in 2014, due to injury. He is back for coach Kevin Wilson in 2015.
Like the 2011 game (L 45-24), the Hoosiers fell to Iowa 45-29 in 2014.

    Former Indiana QB 5 Tre Roberson made his first start in 2011 at Iowa.
    He transferred in 2014, before the season, to Illinois State, leading the Redbirds
    to the FCS Championship Game. Roberson will open 2015 back in Iowa City on Saturday,
    leading the #2 Illinois State Redbirds against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
  • Indiana (4-8) - The Hoosiers have played in one bowl game, since 1993, during the 2007 season. The last Big Ten title was during the 1967 season. Coach Kevin Wilson enters his fifth season in Bloomington, with a 14-34 record. The 2014 season was derailed to a large extent with the injury of QB Nate Sudfeld at Iowa, in the first B1G road game. After all, Tre Robinson transferred to Illinois State, after the Summer of 2014, when Sudfeld was named the #1 QB heading into the 2014 season. Wilson brings back 12 starters in 2015 (7 on offense and 5 on defense). The Hoosiers open Saturday against a MVfC opponent, Southern Illinois.
  • Iowa sophomore 10 Jonathan Parker on a KO return at Purdue in 2014.
    Parker had a 47-yard kickoff return, two catches for 43 yards,
    and one carry for four yards for a total of 94. Parker has moved from RB
    to WR for the Hawkeyes heading into the 2015 season. 
  • Purdue (3-9) - Coach Darrell Hazell enters his third season in West Lafayette with an overall record of 4-20. with one Big Ten win, at Illinois in 2014 (38-27), but a near win at Minnesota (39-38). The Boilermakers return 15 starters (8 on offense, 7 on defense) in 2015. The Boilermakers open the 2015 season at Marshall on Sunday.                                                          
  • Junior QB 12 Wes Lunt slides as Iowa's Drew Ott looks to clean up
    during the 2014 game in Champaign. With the dismal of Tim Beckman
    a week ahead of the season opener, how will the Fighting Illini play in 2015?
  • Illinois (6-7) - News out of Champaign on Friday, notified everyone that the Tim Beckman era would not enter a fourth season in 2015, as the head coach was fired. The University of Illinois fired Beckman over the "deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured injured players to avoid or postpone treatment and continue playing." Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit was named interim head coach for the 2015 season. Cubit has been OC, since 2013. He was a former head coach at Western Michigan, where he was 51–47, with a conference record of 36–27, and a 0–3 bowl record. Major wins against Automatic Qualifiers: Virginia (2006), Iowa (2007), Illinois (2008) and UConn (2011). The Fighting Illini return 15 starters (8 on offense, 7 on defense) in 2015. Injuries have impacted Illinois heading into 2015, with sophomore WR Mike Dudek, slowed by an ACL during the Spring, and now senior DE Jihad Ward, likely out for the opener on Friday vs. Kent State and the game vs. Western Illinois. The Fighting Illini head to North Carolina in Week 3 and Ward is hopefully going to be ready for the big OOC match-up for Illinois.                                                                                             

The focus on the Hawkeyes is on the State of the Program in 2015.
Kirk Ferentz, the dean of the Big Ten, is only 11-13 the past 3 B1G seasons,
19-21 the past 5 years, and 41-39 over the past 10 B1G seasons.
Iowa's last Big Ten title was a co-title with Michigan, in 2004.
The Hawkeyes have not played in the Big Ten Title Game, over the first 4 seasons
of Division play in the Big Ten. Many Hawkeye fans are a little restless, after
another disappointing season in 2014. Iowa opens on Saturday vs. FCS #2 Illinois State.


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