They have the defending National Champions and the Number 1 ranked team heading into the 2015 College Football season. The Ohio State Buckeyes are everyone’s pick to run the table all the way thru January 11, 2016 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This blog has not seen or read anything to convince me otherwise that the Buckeyes are not the clear cut favorite to go back-to-back. How will the rest of the Big 10 shape up? That is what the purpose of this article is. Lets look at Ohio State and the other 13 member institutions of the Big 10. Disclaimer-this just states the best and worst case scenario, it does not predict which team will be in which bowl.
Last year: 6-7 (Defeated by Louisiana Tech in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 3.5
Vegas is down on the Fighting Illini this year. An early season road game at North Carolina September 19 will show the fans if that is true or not. Tough conference road games at Iowa October 10, at Penn State October 31, at Purdue November 7, and at Minnesota November 21 is reason enough to say that Illinois may have a long season this year. Oh and by the way between those last two road games Ohio State comes calling. Best case scenario: A tier 3 bowl that Illinois went to last year. Worst case scenario: 3-9 or 4-8.
Last year: 4-8
Vegas over/under win prediction: 6
Somehow Indiana defeated Missouri in Colombia last season, then really did not do much after that. The schedule does shape up favorable. 3 winnable home games to start the season, then a road game at Wake Forest is key I believe if the Hoosiers want to have a shot at a bowl game. They get the Buckeyes, Scarlet Knights, Hawkeyes, and Wolverines at home this season and winning 2 of those games gets them bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. Best case scenario: Bowl eligibility. Worst case scenario: replicating the 4-8 season from a year ago.
Last season: 7-6 (Defeated by Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5
Iowa does not see the Buckeyes in the rotation this year, that could bode well for the Hawkeyes to make a little noise in the conference title game race. Very winnable non conference matchups this year starting with home Illinois State, at Iowa State, home Pittsburgh, and home North Texas. Iowa could be 4-0 heading into conference season. Just winning their home conference games gets them to 8-4 and having Northwestern as a road game could even push Iowa to 9-3. Best case scenario a tier 1 bowl such as the Citrus Bowl. Worst case scenario: a tier 2 bowl such as the Pinstripe Bowl.
Last season: 7-6 (Lost to Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl
Vegas over/under win prediction: 4.5
Fear the Turtle? Not this season according to Vegas. Maryland has 5 tough road games this season and winning any of them seems like a tall order. Home games do not look like a walk in the park either. The first two road games are at West Virginia and at Ohio State. The first conference home games are Michigan and Penn State, that is a probable 4 game losing streak and everything spiraling out of control henceforth. Best case scenario: Bowl eligibility. Worst case scenario: finishing 3-9 by finishing on a 9 game losing streak.
Last season: 5-7
Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5
Last year was a forgettable season in Ann Arbor. Last season was also a forgettable one in San Francisco. What a difference a year makes. Enter Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines are relevant once again. I am not saying that Michigan will crash the College Football Playoff party this season. But expect a swift turnaround in the program. Going to Utah with revenge on their minds is a good way to start the season off with a win. Having 3 home games against Oregon State, UNLV, and BYU after that will get them ready for conference games. Best case scenario: a Tier 1 bowl such as the Holiday Bowl. Worst case scenario: a tier 3 bowl such as the Quick Lane Bowl.
Last Season: 11-2 (Defeated Baylor in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5
I love how Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio runs the Spartan program. It is one of my favorite football teams to watch. They are tough and play good sound football. Vegas loves the Spartans too, and why not? Coming off 4 straight bowl victories and the last two being the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl there is good reason to like the Spartans. However, they play in the same conference as Ohio State and the road to a national championship starts and ends in Colombus, Ohio. They get the Ducks at home and Ohio State on the road as the only two games they might not be favored in. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: At-large selection in the New Years Six bowl such as the Rose Bowl.
Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Missouri in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 5.5
Minnesota was a surprise team last season. They are another rough and tough team that relies on the run and play action. Losing one of the best tight ends (Maxx Williams) in the country will hurt. Opening the season against TCU is going to be a really, really tough game. TCU may not lose this season and Minnesota seems to be number one on their march. The next week traveling to Colorado State is not going to be easy either. A real chance of an 0-2 start is very possible. After a winnable game against Kent State, the Gophers invite the Ohio Bobcats in to town and that will not be an easy task. Starting 1-3 is a possibility. Best case scenario: A tier 3 bowl such as the Quick Lane Bowl. Worst case scenario: starting 1-3 and finishing 3-9.
Last season: 9-4 (Defeated by USC in the National University Holiday Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 8
I am going to take this opportunity to blast Nebraska. Getting rid of Bo Pelini after he guided your program back to relevance is the same thing as getting rid of Solich because he did not live up to your ill conceived notions of national title contention year in and year out. Wake up Cornhusker fans this is not the watered down Big 8 of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Vegas seems to like the hiring of your new head coach and I believe this will backfire on you. Best case scenario: Bowl eligibility. Worst case scenario: finishing the season 2-10.
Last season: 5-7
Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5
Northwestern plays both Stanford and Duke in the first 4 games of the season this year. Good luck finding an SAT under 1500 in either of those games. One of these days maybe Northwestern can win 8 maybe 9 games but I do not think this is the year for optimism. Going to Michigan and Wisconsin further that sentiment. Best case scenario: Bowl eligibility. Worst case scenario: another bowl-less season for Northwestern.
Last season: 14-1 (Defeated Oregon in the National Championship Game)
After a surprising home loss to Virginia Tech last year, Ohio State won the National Championship. This year the team that was supposed to be two years away a year ago has championship experience and swagger. Revenge on the Hokies in the first game might be the toughest test until the end of the season affair with Michigan. Whoever shows up in the conference championship game will be battle tested as well. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: an at-large selection in the New Year’s 6.
Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5
Penn State is on their way back to high level football. One of the best NFL prospects at QB and a guy who won at VANDERBILT is their head coach. I am higher on Penn State than Vegas. The schedule is a good reason to be high on them as well. Only 4 road games, at Temple to start the season then its not until they travel to Ohio State on October 17. The other two road games are at Northwestern and at Michigan State. It would not surprise me if Penn State made it to 10 wins this season. Best case scenario: At-large selection in the New Year’s Six possibly being the Rose Bowl. Worst case scenario: a tier 1 bowl such as the Outback Bowl.
Last season: 3-9
Vegas over/under win prediction: 4
It was a long season for the Boilermakers. News flash: Drew Brees ain’t walking thru that door anytime soon. Staring them in the face is 5 tough road games. At Marshall to start the season, then at Michigan State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa. It very well may be another long year for Purdue. Best case scenario: matching Vegas’ win prediction. Worst case scenario: finishing the season at 1-11 or 2-10.
Last season: 8-5 (Defeated North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 5
There were wins on last season’s schedule that quite frankly will not be there this season. When you travel to Penn State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Army (they probably will beat Army). Host Michigan State and Ohio State; you will be lucky to reach bowl eligibility. Best case scenario: 6-6 and bowl eligibility. Worst case scenario: 4-8 or 5-7.
Last season: 11-3 (Defeated Auburn in the Outback Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 10
Ho hum for the Badgers, they lose Bret Bielema a few years ago and its back to 11 wins again for this program. They just know how to do it in Madison. Starting the season against Alabama will tell us where the Badgers are, after that only 4 winnable road games will be troubling and if they can get by ‘Bama they might very well be undefeated heading into the conference championship game. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst Case scenario: At-large invite to a New Year’s 6 bowl possibly the Rose Bowl.
Conclusion: Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are the teams to watch this year in the Big 10