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Big 10 Preview: College Football 2023

As the college football season is a little over two weeks away, let's take a look inside the Big 10.


Here is one good point on each team before the season begins.




Illinois


If there’s one thing Bret Bielema has proven in his coaching career it’s that he knows how to win in the Big Ten. He’s already done it at two programs.


Aside from a season opening loss against the Indiana Hoosiers, Bielema’s Illini went on to have its best season in years despite a bowl loss.


We’ve seen bowl losses before under Bielema, but I think the momentum holds firm in Champaign rather than the program taking that next step up.


Indiana


With Tayven Jackson‘s transfer from Tennessee (the brother of Trayce Jackson-Davis) the uncertainty at quarterback and inexperience starting at that position this team’s ceiling seems firmly capped at bowl eligibility and trying to get to six wins.


Can they find a way to get it done?


Iowa


Iowa offensive coordinator and son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, Brian, has to meet a certain points per game total to keep his job in Iowa City.


They’ve added some nice pieces this offseason, including quarterback Cade McNamara from Michigan, and think the Hawkeyes have everything in place to meet if not exceed those 25 points per game mark.


The tenacious defense will allow Iowa to compete to win the West in the division’s final year.

Maryland


Maryland, at long last, has the quarterback play, talent and coaching to make a bit of noise. Taulia Tagovailoa is back for year four as a Terp and was second team All-Big 10 in 2022.


Mike Locksley took the Terps to a bowl game and won it last season. Can they do a 2019 Indiana and exceed the six-win total earlier than anyone expected? Achieve nine wins or more?

Michigan


Michigan’s path to a national title game, forged over the last decade. Michigan in theory is equipped to at last reach the national title game after two consecutive playoff appearances under Jim Harbaugh. With J.J. McCarthy and Blake Corum back just making the College Football Playoffs isn’t the goal. Can they win that game?


Michigan State


This team lost to the 2022 Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana passed the ball seven times in that game. Two of those passes were caught. The Spartans lost that football game. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.


Mel Tucker has had a rough year losing some of his top talent to the transfer portal (QB Peyton Thorne) and finishing 5-7 in 2022. Can Tucker pull the Spartans out of this mess?


Minnesota


Tanner Morgan is gone. P.J. Fleck has a few dudes lined up to replace him. Will the frontrunner, Athan Kaliakmanis, finally be the one to lead the Gophers to the Big Ten title game in the last year where that is a realistic possibility after many seasons of hope?


After another 9-4 2022 season expect to see the Gophers in the mix.

Nebraska


After four years of gross incompetence in Lincoln, Nebraska finally started taking itself a bit seriously as a football program and replaced a program legend Scott Frost, with a known program builder in Matt Rhule.


That change most likely came too late for the Huskers to ever win the Big Ten West, something even Purdue and Northwestern did. Nebraska should probably challenge to make a bowl game or even 7 wins now that Rhule is in charge.


Northwestern


Things have been bleak lately. After the firing of program legend Pat Fitzgerald in a hazing scandal, interim coach David Braun has his work cut out for him.


I don’t really see the vision for any sort of meaningful jump here, so I’m going to go with find a way to three wins. That’s more than the one last season.

Ohio State


There’s been a roughly M-shaped elephant in the room in Columbus for two years now. Ryan Day simply isn’t beating “that team up north” the way his predecessors did.


Aside from lacking a championship, it’s the biggest blemish on his resume by far. Can Day take his talented team into Ann Arbor this year and come out with the victory? With National Championship hopes the nation is watching.


Penn State


Penn State has usually been the third best program in the conference on a yearly basis. But there’s no trophy for third place and has had to exist as a good team in the same division as Ohio State and Michigan for so long now.


The Nittany Lions have the talent to make more noise than they have in years with ideal timing now that it’ll be an easier task to get to Indianapolis in 2024 and after.


But this year? They still have to deal with those heavyweights. The pure best-case scenario I can see there is Penn State plays either of them close or maybe knocks off one of them.

Purdue


Purdue is taking spending on football seriously between the Ross-Ade Stadium renovations and hiring Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator. They are setting up new coach Ryan Walters to succeed at a school much more known for its basketball programs.


They probably have enough talent to make another bowl game and help Walters out that much more.


Rutgers


Greg Schiano keeps trying to recapture the lightning he put in a Rutgers bottle from 2005 to 2011 - the program averaged eight wins a year during the span. However, this hasn’t been easy over the three seasons since he took back the gig in 2020.


It took four years to build it up before the breakthrough 2005 season. The program is in the Big 10 now going against teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Defense should be improved seven of their top eight players are on that side of the ball.

Wisconsin


Wisconsin finally decided to start taking football serious again, going out and hiring one of the best coaches in the country to lead the Badgers into the future. Luke Fickell took Cincinnati (a Group of Five program) to the College Football Playoff and now leads the Badgers.


This is the last year for the West and Fickell’s first in it. In his only try, he will be there with a chance to win it thanks in no small part to all the moves he’s made since he arrived.


The portal has fast-tracked that process in Madison. The schedule sets up nicely for them too. Wisconsin is not elite, but they should be good.


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