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2013 College Football Preview: Big Ten


Odds to Win Big Ten

Ohio State 4/5
Nebraska 9/2
Michigan 9/2
Michigan State 5/1
Wisconsin 9/1
Northwestern 12/1
Iowa 40/1
Indiana 50/1
Minnesota 50/1
Purdue 100/1
Illinois 100/1
 
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 12-0 (8-0 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 7-5 (58%)
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 37.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 13/2                                                                     
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
 
Ohio State was a perfect 12-0 last season, but half of those wins came by a touchdown or less. The nation’s No. 10 rushing offense (242 rush YPG) will once again dominate with QB Braxton Miller (1,271 rush yds, 13 TD) and RB Carlos Hyde (970 rush yds, 16 TD) running behind four returning O-Line starters. Hyde was suspended for at least three games as the result of an altercation with a woman at a bar. Miller has also improved as a passer (8.0 YPA, 15 TD, 6 INT), and still has top wideouts Corey “Philly” Brown (669 rec. yds, 3 TD) and Devin Smith (618 rec. yds, 6 TD) to rely on. The defense still has a mountain of talent, but not a whole lot of experience with seven starters gone. LB Ryan Shazier (115 tackles, 5 sacks, 11 PD) is excellent, as is the secondary, led by superstar CB Bradley Roby (17 PD) and senior safeties Christian Bryant (70 tackles, 12 PD) and C.J. Barnett (56 tackles, 6 PD). However, the D-Line has no starting experience, but highly-touted sophomore DEs Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington can both play (combined 7 sacks in spring game).
 
NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 10-4 (7-2 in Big Ten
ATS Record: 6-7-1 (46%)
Over/Under: 8-4-1
Points Scored: 34.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 40/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
 
Dual-threat QB Taylor Martinez (2,871 pass yds, 23 TD, 12 INT; 1,019 rush yds, 10 TD) returns for his fourth year of running the Huskers’ offense. The turnover-prone Martinez (16 fumbles, 8 lost) has plenty of weapons at his disposal again with his WR trio of Kenny Bell (863 rec. yds, 8 TD), Quincy Enunwa (470 rec. yds) and Jamal Turner (417 rec. yds). Star RB Rex Burkhead is gone, but RB Ameer Abdullah (1,137 rush yds, 8 TD) proved that he is a strong every-down back. He and his veteran O-Line could even surpass the Huskers’ 253 rushing YPG (8th in nation) from last year. The defense, which allowed 53.5 PPG in its four losses, still has major questions. DE Jason Ankrah (6 TFL) is the only starter back from the front seven, but sophomore LB David Santos had a monster spring. The nation’s No. 4 pass defense (168 YPG) is stacked with shut-down CBs Ciante Evans (56 tackles, 8 PD) and Andrew Green (50 tackles) leading the heavily experienced secondary.
 
MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 8-5 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7 (46%)
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 29.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 40/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
 
Denard Robinson is gone, but the Wolverines are in good hands with QB Devin Gardner (9.7 YPA, 11 TD, 5 INT) running the pro-style offense. He’ll continue to zero-in on star WR Jeremy Gallon (829 rec. yds, 4 TD) and opt for TE Devin Funchess (team-high 5 rec. TD) near the goal-line. But the usually potent running game has question marks with three new O-Line starters and no clear-cut No. 1 back. Stud freshman RB Derrick Green could get the majority of carries if RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (514 rush yds, 5 TD) can’t regain his form before breaking his leg in mid-November. The defense should be strong again, especially once star LB Jake Ryan (16 TFL, 4.5 sacks) returns from a torn ACL in October. DE Frank Clark (9 TFL) is poised for a monster season, and the nation’s No. 5 pass defense (169 YPG) will remain elite with S Thomas Gordon (81 tackles) and CB Raymon Taylor (33 solo tackles).
 
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MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 7-6 (3-5 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 5-8 (39%)
Over/Under: 2-10-1
Points Scored: 20.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 16.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 125/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
 
MSU finished 7-6 last year, going 4-5 in games decided by four points or less. Replacing the nation’s No. 3 rusher, Le’Veon Bell, is no easy task and the team may choose a committee approach with unaccomplished RBs Jeremy Langford (2.6 YPC), Nick Hill (2.3 YPC) and Riley Bullough, a converted LB. Senior QB Andrew Maxwell (5.8 YPA, 13 TD, 9 INT) could be overtaken by sophomore QB Connor Cook (5.5 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT). WRs Bennie Fowler (524 rec. yds, 4 TD) and Aaron Burbridge (364 rec. yds) headline a mediocre receiving unit. The O-Line should remain strong, as will the No. 4-ranked defense (274 YPG). DE WIlliam Gholston is gone, but DE Shilique Calhoun (5 hurries) is a future star. MSU’s back seven is truly elite with LBs Max Bullough (111 tackles, 12.5 TFL) and Denicos Allen (79 tackles, 10 TFL), plus CB Darqueze Dennard (3 INT), who projects as a high NFL draft pick.
 
WISCONSIN BADGERS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 8-6 (5-4 in Big Ten
ATS Record: 6-8 (43%)
Over/Under: 8-5
Points Scored: 29.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 150/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
New Head Coach: Gary Andersen
 
Although Big Ten champion Wisconsin was 8-6, those defeats were by a total of 25 points. New coach Gary Andersen and new OC Andy Ludwig first have to pick a starter between sophomore QB Joel Stave (1,104 pass yds, 6 TD, 3 INT) and senior QB Curt Phillips (605 pass yds, 5 TD, 3 INT career). They also need to bolster their injury-plagued offensive line. RBs James White (806 rush yds, 12 TD) and RB Melvin Gordon (621 rush yds, 10.0 YPC) are a fierce 1-2 combo to replace Montee Ball. WR Jared Abbrederis (837 rec. yds, 5 TD) has all-conference talent, but the Badgers need more options in the receiving game. Wisconsin’s sure-fire defense (323 YPG, 15th in FBS) will blitz more often under new DC Dave Aranda to help a young secondary. LB Chris Borland (104 tackles) leads a deep and versatile front seven with talented DE/OLB hybrids Brendan Kelly and Tyler Dippel (5 sacks each).
 
NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 10-3 (5-3 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 12-1 (92%)
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 31.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 200/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
 
The Wildcats’ first bowl win since 1948 capped off a school-record-tying 10 wins, which could have been an even dozen (1-point loss to Nebraska, OT loss at Michigan). They did so with a run-heavy, zone-read offense (226 rush YPG, 19th in FBS). Although three starting O-linemen left, all skill-position starters return, most notably QB Kain Colter (872 pass yds, 8 TD, 4 INT; 894 rush yds, 12 TD) and RB Venric Mark (1,366 rush yds, 12 TD). QB Trevor Siemian (1,312 pass yds, 6 TD, 3 INT) is the better passer in the two-QB system. WR Christian Jones (412 rec. yds, 2 TD) leads an underwhelming receiving corps. The defense held eight opponents to 20 points or less last year and had 29 takeaways (T-20th in FBS). DE Tyler Scott (9 sacks, 12.5 TFL) is nearly unblockable and LB Chi Chi Ariguzo (91 tackles) had a hand in six forced turnovers. CB Nick VanHoose (3 INT) is an absolute blanket.
 
IOWA HAWKEYES
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 4-8 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 3-9 (25%)
Over/Under: 4-7
Points Scored: 19.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 1,000/1
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
 
The Hawkeyes had a dreadful 4-8 season (2-5 at home), scoring just 16.7 PPG during a season-ending, six-game skid. The nation’s 8th-worst offense (310 YPG), that threw only 7 TD, will likely be led by sophomore QB Jake Rudock, who topped 5,000 passing yards in high school. WR Kevonte Martin-Manley (571 rec. yds) and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (433 rec. yds) are the top targets. Iowa will continue to pound the football with RBs Mark Weisman (815 rush yds, 8 TD) and Damon Bullock (513 rush yds) behind an elite offensive line. The Hawkeyes had the nation’s best turnover margin (+1.0 per game) of any sub-.500 team. Plenty of players return to a strong defense (22.9 PPG, 33rd in FBS), most notably LBs Anthony Hitchens (11.3 tackles per game, 6th in FBS) and James Morris (113 tackles). The D-Line needs to generate more than 13 sacks (T-115th in FBS), but the secondary is in good shape.
 
INDIANA HOOSIERS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 4-8 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-6 (50%)
Over/Under: 8-3
Points Scored: 30.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 35.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 10
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
 
The Hoosiers quadrupled their win total to four in 2012, and lost four games by four points or less, including a 52-49 defeat to 12-0 Ohio State. With nearly every starter coming back, a bowl bid is a legitimate goal. Dual-threat QB Tre Roberson (6.8 YPA, 4.6 YPC career) is back from a broken leg to guide the Big Ten’s top passing offense (311 YPG). He has WR Cody Latimer (805 rec. yds, 6 TD) to stretch the field, 5-foot-7 speedster WR Shane Wynn (660 rec. yds, 6 TD), slot WR Kofi Hughes (639 rec. yds), and reliable TE Ted Bolser (445 rec. yds). RB Stephen Houston (749 rush yds, 12 TD) will get the bulk of carries. The defense was awful (464 YPG, 106th in FBS), especially on the ground (231 YPG, 5th-worst in FBS). LB David Cooper (86 tackles) and S Greg Heban (68 solo tackles) are the only locks to start, but 4-star recruits DT Darius Latham, DE David Kenney and CB Antonio Allen provide hope.
 
MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 6-7 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7 (46%)
Over/Under: 5-6-1
Points Scored: 22.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 10
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
 
The Gophers began 4-0 last year, but finished 2-7, surpassing 17 points just twice in those final nine contests. QB Philip Nelson (5.7 YPA, 8 TD, 8 INT) made great strides as a freshman and now has a lock on the starting job. But none of his returning wideouts caught even 20 passes last year. That’s a big reason why Minnesota will remain a run-first offense with RBs Donnell Kirkwood (926 rush yds, 6 TD) and Rodrick Williams (261 rush yds) rumbling behind a veteran O-Line. The strength of the defense lies in the back (187 passing YPG, 12th in FBS) with an athletic secondary led by CB Derrick Wells (74 tackles, 10 PD) and S Brock Vereen (64 tackles, 9 PD). The run defense struggled (172 YPG, 74th in FBS), but 300-pound DT Ra’Shede Hageman (6 sacks) draws enough double-teams to free up the pass rushers. JUCO LB Damien Wilson will likely shine brightest in a crew of unproven linebackers.
 
PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 6-7 (3-5 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 6-7 (46%)
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 28.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 31.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
New Head Coach: Darrell Hazell
 
Former Kent State head man Darrell Hazell is ditching the spread offense and promises a more physical, pro-style attack under OC John Shoop. QB Rob Henry (6.1 YPA, 11 TD, 8 INT career) will likely win the starting job over freshmen Danny Etling and Austin Appleby, but Henry last started in 2010. Senior WR Gary Bush (360 rec. yds, 7 TD) highlights a subpar group of receivers. Hazell believes speedy RB Akeem Hunt (75 carries, 8.3 YPC career) can be the bell-cow now that he’s added more muscle. Purdue’s poor defense (416 YPG, 11th in Big Ten) allowed 41.2 PPG in its final six defeats and lost DT Kawann Short to the NFL. DT Bruce Gaston (5.5 TFL) will try to fill the void, and DE Ryan Russell (4 sacks) is a budding star. CB Ricardo Allen (7 INT career) is a blanket and S Landon Feichter (80 tackles, 4 INT) makes plays. The top linebacker is Sean Robinson (3 PD), a former quarterback.
 
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 2-10 (0-8 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 3-9 (25%)
Over/Under: 6-5
Points Scored: 16.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
 
Not only were the Illini 0-8 in Big Ten play under first-year coach Tim Beckham, but they lost by an average score of 35-12. The offense finished third-worst in the nation in both points (16.7 PPG) and yards (297 YPG). Illinois ditched the two-OC system and brought in new OC Bill Cubit whose offense will force QB Nathan Scheelhaase (246 pass attempts, 4 TD, 8 INT) to get the ball out quickly. WR Ryan Lankford (469 rec. yds, 5 TD) leads an unproven receiving corps, but Illinois has two capable ball carriers in RBs Donovonn Young (571 rush yds, 3 TD) and Josh Ferguson (312 rush yds). The pass defense allowed just 194 YPG (19th in FBS), but mostly because teams ran all over Illinois (194 YPG, 97th in FBS). Most of the D-Line and secondary are gone -- three to the NFL -- putting more pressure on LBs Mason Monheim (86 tackles) and Jonathan Brown (9.5 TFL) to be all over the field.
 
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
 
2012 Statistics
SU Record: 8-4 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 9-2-1 (82%)
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 29.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: Not eligible for postseason         
 
2013 Preview
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
 
Bill O’Brien coached as well as anybody, leading his NCAA-sanctioned program to eight wins in its final 10 games. Penn State was second in the Big Ten in passing (274 YPG) but will dearly miss QB Matt McGloin. True freshman QB Christian Hackenberg will likely start ahead of JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson. Despite this inexperience in a complex, no-huddle offense, there are plenty of desirable targets like superstar WR Allen Robinson (1,018 rec. yds, 11 TD) and TE Kyle Carter (453 rec. yds). RB Zach Zwinak (1,000 rush yds, 6 TD) will carry the load behind a solid O-Line. The nation’s No. 16 scoring defense (19.1 PPG) will again boast a fierce front four (2.8 sacks per game, T-15th in FBS) led by DE Deion Barnes (6 sacks, 3 FF). CB Adrian Amos (44 tackles) shines in a top-notch secondary, but MLB Glenn Carson (85 tackles) and OLB Ethan Hull (4 sacks) are part of a thin linebacker corps.
 

  
HEADLINES
David: 2013 Bad Beats
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