Andrew Logue’s Big Ten Football Predictions for 2013
This is a bad year for Iowa football to attempt a Big Ten Conference rebound.
The Hawkeyes won just four games last fall, losing their final six against league rivals.
So far, the early predictions for 2013 that are trickling in paint a pessimistic picture. Athlon Sports magazine has already come out with its rankings. It has Iowa to finish last in the Legends Division.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com left the Hawkeyes out of his initial bowl projections.
“The one thing about going 4-8, there’s no passing the buck, no sticking your head in the sand,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We have to do a better job, and it starts with me.”
Why should we rank the Big Ten teams now? Because it feels like spring again, and it’s never too early to talk football. This may look a lot different in November, but here’s what I’m seeing as of May:
1. Ohio State
Early MVP candidate: Oddsmakers recently listed junior quarterback Braxton Miller as having the second-best chance at winning the Heisman Trophy, behind last year’s winner, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.
We’ll know more after: A Sept. 28 home game against Wisconsin.
Among the questions: How will the Buckeyes respond when their path toward a possible national title is no longer blocked by NCAA sanctions? Anything less than a berth in the BCS championship game will be seen as a disappointment. The offense brings back nine starters.
Early MVP candidate: A knee injury ended cornerback Blake Countess’ season last year, but he’s back and part of a talented defense.
We’ll know more after: A Sept. 7 showdown with Notre Dame, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Among the questions: How will Devin Gardner handle the full-time duties at quarterback? He started five games last season and led the Big Ten in passing efficiency. The Wolverines also hope to bolster a pass rush that accounted for just 22 sacks in 2012.
Early MVP candidate: Taylor Martinez continued to improve as a quarterback last fall, contributing 3,890 total yards, completing 62 percent of his passes and averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
We’ll know more after: The Cornhuskers host Northwestern on Nov. 2.
Among the questions: Can Nebraska edge Michigan for the Legends Division crown? Advancing to the Big Ten championship game could come down to a Nov. 9 meeting with the Wolverines, in Ann Arbor. The schedule features five home games to start, before a road trip to Purdue, will help.
Early MVP candidate: James White has rushed for 2,571 career yards and 32 touchdowns, but he’ll be pushed by Melvin Gordon.
We’ll know more after: New coach Gary Andersen leads the Badgers onto the field for the first time, Aug. 31, against visiting UMass.
Among the questions: Will there be a drop off under Andersen? He has plenty of key guys returning on offense and defense, but Wisconsin’s reign atop the Leaders Division will likely end, now that Ohio State is eligible to compete.
Early MVP candidate: Running back Venric Mark led the Big Ten last season with 167 all-purpose yards per game.
We’ll know more after: Ohio State visits the Wildcats Oct. 5.
Among the questions: Who will replace three departed starters on the offensive line? Everything else seems to be in place for another 10-win season, including quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian.
6. Michigan State
Early MVP candidate: A sports hernia limited cornerback Darqueze Dennard this spring, but he will be an all-America candidate.
We’ll know more after: The Spartans travel to Notre Dame on Sept. 21.
Among the questions: Will Michigan State return to its 11-win form of 2011, or was last season the beginning of a long-term dip?
7. Penn State
Early MVP candidate: Junior receiver Allen Robinson led the Big Ten last season with 77 catches for 1,013 yards.
We’ll know more after: The Nittany Lions visit Indiana on Oct. 5.
Among the questions: Is this the season NCAA sanctions really take a toll. Most feel Penn State overachieved in 2012.
Early MVP candidate: Cameron Coffman helped the Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with 311.2 passing yards per game, but is part of a three-man battle for the starting job.
We’ll know more after: Missouri travels to Bloomington, Ind., for a Sept. 21 showdown.
Among the questions: Can Indiana qualify for a bowl? Whoever emerges as quarterback will have a solid supporting cast.
Early MVP candidate: Philip Nelson started the last seven games at quarterback last season, as a true freshman.
We’ll know more after: The Gophers and Iowa meet Sept. 28 in TCF Bank Stadium.
Among the questions: After going 4-0 in the nonconference last season, can Minnesota make more headway in the Big Ten?
Early MVP candidate: Senior linebacker Anthony Hitchens led the Big Ten with 124 tackles. Fellow linebacker James Morris was third with 113.
We’ll know more after: The Hawkeyes open the season Aug. 31 against mid-major heavyweight Northern Illinois.
Among the questions: Who will be the starting quarterback? None of the three candidates has seperated themselves.
Early MVP candidate: The secondary will be led by safety Landon Feichter, who intercepted four passes in 2012.
We’ll know more after: The season opener at Cincinnati.
Among the questions: How quickly can the offense click, with six new starters.
Early MVP candidate: Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was effective at times last fall, but didn’t get a lot of help.
We’ll know more after: The Illini meet Washington at Chicago, Sept. 14.
Among the questions: Are fans missing Ron Zook, yet? Tim Beckman’s first season as coach produced just two wins.
Logue says Ohio State should romp through the Leaders Division, while Michigan slips past Nebraska in the Legends. Logue’s 2013 predicted order of finish:
4. Michigan State
1. Ohio State
3. Penn State