Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Big Ten season with the CFN All-Big Ten Team & Top 30 players.
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Big Ten Team Previews, 5 Things To Know
East Indiana | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State
Ohio State | Penn State | Rutgers
West Illinois | Iowa | Minnesota | Nebraska
Northwestern | Purdue | Wisconsin
2019 Preseason CFN Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
RB Jonathan Taylor, Jr. Wisconsin
Lost in the clunker of a 2018 Badger season was an epic performance by Taylor to stay on pace to potentially break fellow UW running back Ron Dayne’s NCAA all-time rushing record … but he needs to keep it all going with two more amazing years.
Wisconsin needs to settle the quarterback situation and has to come up with four new starting offensive linemen, but it has the nation’s best running back to work around. With a combination of power and speed, Taylor averaged over seven yards per carry, rushing for 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns. If he can somehow stop fumbling in the red zone, the scoring numbers will go through the roof.
2018 Preseason CFN Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
DE AJ Epenesa, Jr. Iowa
It’s a strong year for high-end Big Ten defensive ends. Ohio State’s Chase Young is a future NFL star, Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes is special, and Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos is in for a big season, but it’s the 6-6, 280-pound Epenesa who has the full package of skills and talents to be the league’s best defensive player this season.
He’s got the size to be a more of a run stuffer after making 37 stops, but he should either repeat the 10.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss of last year, or he’ll be the focus of every blocking scheme so the rest of the defense can shine.