CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Big Ten Rankings
The 2017 CFN Preview ranking of all the Big Ten teams.
Where do the Big Ten teams rank going into the season? This is NOT a ranking of how the teams are projected or predicted to finish. This is a ranking of how good they all appear to be going into the fall.
Preview 2017: Big Ten Rankings
The Scarlet Knights will soon be better, but they’re still behind the rest of the Big Ten pack. The linebacking corps should be good, and getting back Janarion Grant makes the receiving corps a plus. But the hope for new recruit Johnathan Lewis to shine at quarterback sooner than later is a need.
The new era under Jeff Brohm should be more interesting right away. The defense has issues, but the linebacking corps should still take over from time to time and keep games from getting out of hand. Are the playmakers in place to get the O going like Brohm wants and needs? The receiving corps needs time, but David Blough is a good quarterback to start with.
Can WR Mike Dudek get a little bit of health luck? Will transfer Dwayne Lawson ever be ready and able to go to give the team a killer quarterback, and will Chayce Crouch be the main when Lawson isn’t eligible? There’s a chance the receiving corps becomes night-and-day better, but only if the offensive line gives everyone some time to work. The defense has the potential to be a factor, too, especially in the secondary.
The Terps are still at least a year away from being more of a factor – head coach D.J. Durkin needs the great recruiting class to kick in – but they’ll be more competitive this season led by a great linebacking corps and a strong group of running backs. Can freshman Kasim Hill be the quarterbacking star of the show right away? If so, look out.
It’s going to be the annoying team no one wants to face. Of course, it’s not going to win the Big Ten, but it’ll have the right makeup to pull off an upset or two. The Hoosiers have a sneaky-great linebacking corps starting with Tegray Scales and T.J. Simmons, while the offense will bomb away with QB Richard Lagow a good veteran throwing to an experienced and dangerous group of receivers.
Will plucky be enough for Husker fans? The safeties are a strength, and the defense should be tough enough keep the team in games, but does the offense have the talent and pop to be more than just average? The receiving corps is just okay, the running backs are just okay, and the linebackers are just okay. Somehow, it all has to come together to be better than just okay.
P..J. Fleck inherits a good running game that should be able to control the time of possession, but can the passing game be more effective and efficient? The defense will be a rock up the middle, but are the playmakers there on the outside to get behind the line? Run the ball, get decent defense, play great special teams, and it should all work under the new guy.
If this isn’t Pat Fitzgerald’s best team, it won’t be all that far off. The offensive backfield – QB Clayton Thorson and RB Justin Jackson – can play with anyone, and the line should be just okay enough to get by. The D might not be a killer, but the secondary has the talent to shine. It’ll need to if the line isn’t reloaded right away.
6. Michigan State
Even with the off-the-field issues, and even after all of last season’s on-field disasters, there should be a good enough turnaround to be stronger. This won’t be a Big Ten Championship good team, but it won’t be 3-9 miserable. The running game will always be the easy fallback, and the linebacking corps leads a far better defense, but it’ll still take a ton of work to turn the ship around.
Here’s a shocker for a Kirk Ferentz coached team. Why will Iowa be good? The offensive line will be fantastic. There needs to be some semblance of a downfield passing game, and there has to be more pop overall, but Akrum Wadley will be great for the ground game, the linebacking corps will be special, and the team will be a rock in all phases. Now, about that passing game …
Don’t assume that losing almost all the starters will be a massive problem. The defensive line will reload in a hiccup, Wilton Speight is a strong veteran quarterback, and there might not be enough of a drop-off in defensive production to be noticeable. However, the young receiving corps has to be outstanding right away, a slew of new starters – and their backups – have to be ready for Game One against Florida, and the kicking game can’t be a problem. The expectations might be relatively low, but the talent is there. There’s a good chance the record can be at least as good.
3. Penn State
Will that whole hunter-becoming-the-hunted thing matter? Having a RB like Saquon Barkley and a baller of a quarterback in Trace McSorley should overcome most of the other issues – and there aren’t a ton of them. The lines need to replace a few of the main men, the receiving corps could use a star No. 1 target, and there’s a bit of a prove-it factor overall for a team that might have simply caught fire at the right time. But the Nittany Lions were a year too early – this seasonr’s version should be every bit as strong.
The defense loses Jack Cichy to a torn ACL, and pass rushers T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel along with top corner Sojourn Shelton – and the defense won’t drop a lick. Even without the lost stars, the defensive front seven will once again be a brick wall, led by a linebacking corps that’ll be the best in the Big Ten – or No. 1A behind Iowa. Even without OT Ryan Ramczyk and RB Corey Clement, the Wisconsin ground game will be the Wisconsin ground game. It all adds up to more of the same.
1. Ohio State
And here we go again. The backfield of QB J.T. Barrett and RB Mike Weber will dominate, but can the young wide receivers come though? It’s Ohio State – what do you think? The secondary has more talent where all the other ones came from, and the linebackers will be fine, but it’s the defensive front that’ll be the biggest positive. No team should have this many great defensive ends.