Three Sentence College Football Team Previews: Big Ten
Quick three sentence previews giving you what you absolutely need to know about every Big Ten team going into the 2017 season.
2017 Big Ten Previews: Quick Version
Here’s what you absolutely you need to know about every team – previewing the Big Ten here – in three sentences, with links to the full blown team previews if you’d like to dive in further.
Read these, get smarter, move along.
– CFN Preview 2017: All 130 Team Previews
– Big Ten Team Rankings
– Big Ten Schedules & Predictions
– Big Ten Bowl Projections
– 2017 CFN Big Ten Preview: Golden Age of Big Ten Football
– 2017 CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 Players
Big Ten East
– The spotlight is on head coach Tom Allen to see if he can keep the offensive production going in the post-Kevin Wilson era, and he’s got the talent to play around with in QB Richard Lagow and a terrific receiving corps to make up for the questionable group of running backs.
– The defensive talent has been building and building, and now the Hoosiers get by nine starters led by a ball-hawking secondary and a potential superstar in linebacker Tegray Scales.
– No one’s expecting miracle in the tough Big Ten East, but the Hoosiers are good enough to go bowling again and beat at least one of the big boys along the way, earning the nod as the Underappreciated Team No One Wants To Face.
– The Terps might be a year or two away from being really, really good, but superstar QB recruit Kasim Hill might be good enough to roll right now, helping out an outstanding running back situation that’ll have to shine to overcome a rebuilding receiving corps.
– The defense has experience, but it has to be a whole lot better up front and in the secondary around the linebacker tandem of Jermaine Carter and Shane Cockerille.
– This is the year the Terps have to prove that they’re regulars on the bowl circuit, while also making a statement or two with good performances against the division’s big boys.
– While the offense has to replace a whole slew of key parts, getting back QB Wilton Speight is a huge help to usher in an ultra-talented – but young – receiving corps and balance out a tough running attack.
– Don’t cry for a defense that loses 11 of the top 13 tacklers, with a whole boatload of talent ready to rise up and rock around one of the best tackle combinations in the Big Ten.
– Even with all the personnel losses on both sides of the ball, there’s no reason to shoot for anything less than a Big Ten title with all the talent and all attitude to get through a not-that-awful schedule, especially with Ohio State having to come to Ann Arbor.
Michigan State Spartans
– Scoring was a problem for last year’s offense, but the running game was fine, and it should be again with a great backfield working behind a good-enough line.
– The defense might be experienced, but it needs to be a whole lot better with a stronger pass rush, more talent needing to emerge in the secondary, and more takeaways forced.
– After last year’s disastrous clunker of a season, and with all of the off-the-field issues, the Spartans have to simply start winning again with a team that might not have a ton of top-shelf talent, but should have an us-against-the-world attitude.
Ohio State Buckeyes
– Get ready for a far more interesting offense with former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson expected to do wonders for the running game, and help out veteran QB J.T. Barrett to start doing more down the field.
– While the defensive back seven has to replace a whole slew of NFL talents, the ultra-deep, ultra-talented line should make up for the concerns with a potentially unstoppable pass rush that’ll come in waves.
– While there are still question marks and concerns after the Fiesta Bowl flop against Clemson, there’s no excuse to not get back into the College Football Playoff with one of the best coaching staffs in the business, and more than enough NFL talent to win at least nine games just by showing up.
Penn State Nittany Lions
– The expectations will be through the roof to do it all again, with Trace McSorley one of the league’s top gunslinging quarterbacks and Saquon Barkley an NFL-caliber back for the high-powered offense.
– Eight of the top 11 tacklers are back for a good defense, but not an elite one that should be just good enough to hold serve – helped mostly from a great secondary – so the offense can do its thing.
– Now the Nittany Lions will have to do it all again and win the Big Ten, but good luck with that considering Ohio State and Michigan will be fantastic again, and road trips to Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan State won’t be easy.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
– Even with a good receiving corps and the hype growing over superstar QB recruit Johnathan Lewis, it’s still going to be a struggle to get by offensively as former Minnesota head man Jerry Kill takes over the nation’s least-productive attack.
– It’s going to be another year of growing pains for a young defense that needs a pass rush and has to come up with a lot more big plays from a back seven that got ripped to shreds.
– This is still going to be seen as the off-week game for most in the Big Ten, but the team will be far more competitive and should come up with a few early wins to dream of going bowling – with a few massive upsets needed, too.
Big Ten West
Illinois Fighting Illini
– The quarterback situation was hoping for JUCO superstar Dwayne Lawson to be ready to roll, but he’s still trying to get academically eligible, meaning Chayce Crouch will likely be the one getting to throw to Mike Dudek – who’s missed the last two years hurt – leading a strong receiving corps.
– Even with a brilliant defensive head coach in Lovie Smith, and a great defensive mind in coordinator Hardy Nickerson, it’s going to be a fight to come up with a decent year defensively with all four starters gone up front and better play needed from the linebacking corps.
– There has to be a sign of life under Smith in his second year, with improvement needed on both sides of the ball to take advantage of a not-that-bad schedule to potentially go bowling.
– You know how this is all going to roll, with the Hawkeye running game cranking things up with Akrum Wadley leading the way behind a terrific line, but the passing attack … the running game will be good.
– The star power might not be there for the Iowa D, and losing safety Brandon Snyder to a torn ACL stings, but the big hitters are there in the linebacking corps for a run defense that should be among the Big Ten’s best.
– The schedule – at least in Big Ten play – is just nasty enough to keep the Hawkeyes from winning the West, but this will be yet another hard-nosed, solid team under Kirk Ferentz that’ll be a tough out every week.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
– While there might be a new coaching staff and a different vibe, it’ll be the same Gophers on offense with a great group of running backs and a passing game that needs to be efficient, even if it’s not explosive.
– The hard-nosed defense should be every big as good with a strong linebacking corps and good pass rushing front four making up for a relatively inexperienced secondary.
– P.J. Fleck is taking over a great situation, inheriting a good team with a decent enough schedule that should ensure another bowl appearance with a wee bit of a flirtation with the Big Ten West title.
– The hope is for Tulane transfer Tanner Lee to not only take the place of QB Tommy Armstrong, but provide an upgrade to help out an okay receiving corps and a line that needs to be up to Nebraska snuff.
– Former UConn head coach Bob Diaco is a whale of a defensive mind, and now he has to make the Husker D shine despite the lack of top-shelf, sure-thing stars across the board.
– Considering the overall talent level is just okay, Nebraska still should be a player in the Big Ten West race up into the end with almost all of the big boys at home and the expectations for double-digit wins or bust.
– Clayton Thorson should quietly grow into one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks, Justin Jackson is already one of the best all-around running backs, and the line gets back four starters for a great-looking offense.
– The defense has to figure out how to get to the quarterback, and the secondary needs a few more options, but it should be a good enough group to get by if the offense does its job to control the clock.
– If you’re looking for a sneaky-good sleeper in the Big Ten West race, this is it, but the Wildcats have to win at Wisconsin and there can’t be any slips against Penn State at home or Nebraska in Lincoln.
– The receivers are a bit of a question mark, and QB David Blough has to be fantastic, but the hope is there to shine right away under new head coach Jeff Brohm, who comes in after blowing up the Western Kentucky attack over the east few years.
– Experienced defensive coordinator Nick Holt has plenty of work to do, but he inherits a ton of experience, an amazing linebacker in Markus Bailey, and helped by WKU transfer T.J. McCollum to help toughen up the run D.
– It’ll take a minor miracle to go bowling, but as long as the offense starts to show signs of life and looks like it’s supposed to under Brohm, the season will be a success.
– You don’t know the Wisconsin running backs yet, but you will with Bradrick Shaw, Pitt transfer Chris James, and veteran Taiwan Deal rumbling behind yet another crushing Badger offensive front.
– New defensive coordinator and UW legend Jim Leonhard loses T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel to the NFL, and Jack Cichy to a torn ACL, but he gets one of the Big Ten’s best linebacking corps, a killer front three, and just enough talent in the secondary to overcome some key personnel losses.
– Last year’s schedule was a killer, but it’s squishy-soft by comparison with the home game against Michigan potentially the only time the Badgers might be the underdog.