Mike hosted a mini family reunion with the Mother of all Doofusses, the Sax Man, Nina, Kayla and me. During a board game, while Nephew Doofus was taking far to long to make a move, the Sax Man came up with a trivia question that Bruce would like. Seven Premier League teams - soccer teams to us Yanks, have been in the league continually since it was formed in 1992. Who are the teams - Answer Below
And before we get into the Big Ten Preview - there is always time for a Hype Video. BK sent this one around awhile back
And before we get into the Big Ten Preview - there is always time for a Hype Video. BK sent this one around awhile back
The Big Ten will welcome three new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2015 campaign in Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Nebraska's Mike Riley and Wisconsin's Paul Chryst.
There's a ton of head coaching experience returning to the Big Ten sidelines this year including Minnesota's Jeery Kill (21 seasons) Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (19) Randy Edsall of Maryland (16) Nebraska;s Mike Riley (14) Ohio State's Urban Meyer (13) and our very own Mark Dantonio with 13
The conference hasn’t experienced a lot of success with quarterbacks in the NFL draft. Trevor Sieman from Northwestern was the first Big Ten QB drafted since 2012 (Rd 7, Denver). The conference hasn't had a first round QB drafted in 20 years (Kerry Collins, Penn State, 1995, Carolina). It has only had two first round QBs ince since 1936. That should change in the 2016 draft as MSU's Connor Cook, Ohio State's Cardale Jones and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg are rated first round picks in most mock drafts.
It's the 120th season of Big Ten play. How will it play out? Here's what Vegas thinks
Tim Beckman dodged a bullet last year. It took a couple of late season wins over against Penn State and Northwestern to keep from getting kicked to the curb. Illinois has struggled for years to be relevant in the Big Ten. Hiring Beckman didn't move the needle. None of his fellow coaches were sweating that hire. Beckman is going to be Beckman. He is terrible with the media and Simon Cvijonovic's epic Twitter rant only added fuel to the fire.
It's a distraction the Ilini don't need. There are some positives coming into the year. Illinois welcomes back 15 starters back from last year’s squad, including QB Wes Lunt. Lunt is an inconsistent but can be effective Big Ten QB when he stays healthy (he has failed to complete a season without a major injury) The OL returns three starters and should be OK to decent. The rushing game could be solid with Sr RB Josh Fergusen poised to have a breakout year. The passing game was looking to be a bright spot with five of the top six WRs returning. That was until star WR Mike Dudek went down in spring camp with a torn ACL. He will be out until at least October.
The defensive side was a disaster last year finishing 109th overall in yardage and in points allowed. Knowing that the defense needs help, Beckman hired Tampa Bay's DL Coach Mike Phair to to be co-defensive coordinator with incumbent Tim Banks. Phair will have three starting DL returning. The linebackers should be solid but the secondary is a concern. The will start three seniors but they are nothing special. As a team last year, Illinois had a mere seven interceptions.
Vegas is down on the Illini and rightly so. They peg them with 3.5 wins. Are there four? They should be favored against Richmond and Bowling Green. South Florida is down. I'll go with two wins to start. They secondary should get torched @ West Virginia. The remaining best games for a win are Michigan, Indiana and @ Rutgers. Beckman always manages to find the banana peel to slip up on. I'll take the UNDER
Last year was the year Kevin Wilson's offense and an improving defense was supposed to challenge for a bowl spot. It didn't quite turn out that way. It started out all right with a road win against eventual SEC East champ Missouri. But the next week they collapsed against Maryland. And when QB Nate Sudfield went out for the season with a shoulder injury in the Iowa game - the season went into a death spiral. Fourth string QB Zander Diamont managed only one win (against Purdue) as the Hooisers went 4-8.
Indiana will get back Sudfield but lose star RB Tevin Coleman (RD 3 Atlanta). Wilson hopes he found Coleman's replacement in RB Jordan Howard. Howard ran for nearly 1,600 yards for UAB before the Blazers dropped their program. Indiana also plucked 6'2" WR Marqui Wilson form UAB too in an effort to bring more size to the wide receiver corps. Four players return to an improving offensive line.
Last year new DC Brian Knorr switched to a 3-4 defense. It may have been bad (102nd in points allowed) but it was better by 94 fewer yards and six points less than in 2013. The DL could show even further improvement with three DLs returning. The secondary wasn’t great last season, and both starting cornerbacks departed.
It won't be pretty but the defense just needs to make enough stops to let the offense win. They can start but limiting the number of red zone scores. Last season Ohio State missed once as did Penn State. That was it. Every other time a team got into the red zone they scored.
Vegas is thinking that Indiana will be in a spot for a bowl invite again this year as they have the win total set at 6. The schedule sets up well to start with Richmond, Florida International, Western Kentucky and @ Wake Forest. Assuming they don't fold against the Hilltoppers they sholud be 4-0. They will need two wins in the Big Ten with Rutgers, @ Maryland and @ Purdue being the most likely candidates. Six wins sounds about right - I'll PASS
Kirk Ferentz, the dean of Big Ten head coaches, seems to have settled into being just consistently mediocre. Since 2009 he has gone 7-6, 8-5, clunked with a 4-8 then went back to 8-5, 7-6. Granted, he has been to 12 bowls in 14 seasons but he has had only one 10 win season in the last 10 years hasn't finished the season ranked in six years, hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2010 Insight, and frankly, hasn’t been a threat for the Big Ten title a long, long, time. Iowa is coasting.
Last season was the end of the road for QB Jake Rudock, Rudock started 25 of Iowa’s last 26 games then decided to transfer to Michigan after being passed on the depth chart by junior C.J. Beathard. Beathard (the grandson of famed NFL exec Bobby Beathard), is the anti-Ruddick, using his strong arm to throw downfield rather than settle for a safe pass underneath. He came in in the second half of the Pitt game and then started in the Purdue game - winning both and cementing his starting position this year.
Beathard will not have the luxury of handing off to bruiser RB Mark Weisman. Wesiman led the Hawkeyes in rushing three straight years and now is in the NFL (UDFA Cincinnati). Injury prone Sr RB Jordan Canzeri will get most of the carries. He'll be running behind an OL that returns three starters but will be missing Outland Trophy winner Brandon Scherff (Rd 1 Redskins). The receivers return two of their top three players but neither were very productive last year. .
As disappointing as the Hawkeye offense was last season, the defense wasn’t much better. It hit rock bottom in the TaxSlayer Bowl, as Tennessee shredded the Iowa defense for 461 total yards, including 283 rushing yards.
The secondary should be the strength as it returns three starters including All Big Ten CB Desmond King. However, it loses leading tackler S John Lowdermilk (UDFA San Diego) The DL returns both DEs but loses its heart and soul with the loss of DTs Louis Trinca-Pasat (UDFA St Louis) and Carl Davis (Rd 3 Baltimore). The linebackers are a major concern as all three are sophomores who were rushed into emergency duty as freshmen last year.
Vegas has Iowa having another middling season as they have pegged the regular season win total at 7.5 The out of conference slate features Illinois State, Iowa State, Pitt and North Texas. They should win 2-3 games (The Cyclones have Iowa's number lately winning three of the last four). In Big Ten play they should get 2-3 wins with Illinois, Maryland, @ Indiana and Purdue which gives you around 5-6. Then it's @ Wisconsin, @ Northwestern, Minnesota and @ Nebraska. Maybe there is one win in there but that still leaves you with a max of 7. I'll take the UNDER
It was all smoke and mirrors last year for Maryland. Sure, they won seven games and made it to the illustrious Farm Fresh Bowl - where they gone blown out by Stanford. But they did it while getting out yarded by nearly 100 YPG, The offense gained 55 yards fewer than in 2013 while the defense surrendered 60 yards more. Now HC Randy Edsall has to replace his starting QB, star WR, defensive coordinator and 11 other starters. That's a tall order.
On offense, QB Caleb Rowe steps in for departed CJ Brown. Rowe struggles with injuries but has a strong arm meaning the Terps will get away from the read option where Brown excelled. But who will he target? Not only is Diggs gone (Rd 5 Minnesota) but so is WR Deon Long (UDFA Tennessee). The Terps were hoping that true sophomore Juwann Winfree would step up and be the man. That is until he got suspended indefinitely over the summer. The other WRs are average at best. Relying on the running game may not be an option. While the OL returns three startes - it's nothing special. The same can be said for the RBs. Leading RBs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown are back but do not put the fear of God in anyone.
On defense, Edsall recognized that playing a 3-4 defense only means you will get pounded on by the big boys. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State each rushed for over 240 yards. Edsall fired DC Brian Stewart, promoted LB coach Keith Dudinski and ordered him to install a 4-3. He'll have to do it while replacing virtually every one in the front seven. The secondary should be up to the task as it returns three starters including All Big Ten CB William Likely and S Anthony Nixon. Sr safety Sean Davis will move over to CB.
Vegas is projecting a big drop off from a team that faded down the stretch - dropping the win total to 4.5 Richmond, Bowling Green and South Florida are good for 2-3 wins and then nothing until the final two games with Indiana and @ Rutgers. Edsall is a solid coach so I don't want to take the under. But this team will struggle I'll PASS
.Why it's the single best hire in College Football - Ever!! Michigan will be back to being Michigan again. The Game at the end of the season will decide the Big Ten title and a spot in the playoffs. It's Woody vs Bo all over again!
And pigs will fly out my ass. Never has there been so much hype. Analysts don't want to talk to Urban and Dantanio about their teams. they want their perspective on the latest Messiah in Ann Arbor. I mean college football sucks unless Michigan is relevant - right??
Don't worry - it will all be over soon. Cause that's when the teams will strap on the helmets and actually play the game. And then the questions will be - What's wrong with Michigan?
For starters - the QB situation is a hot mess. Last year Michigan finished 107th in passing efficiency. During spring practice Harbaugh was working with Jr Shane Morris, true freshman, Alex Malzone and redshirt freshman Wilton Speight. Combined TD passes? Zero against five picks. Desperate for someone who knows what the end zone looks like they took that passing dynamo Iowa's leftover QB Jake Rudock. His check down passing methodology at least garnered a fourth best Big Ten passing efficiency.
The WR situation is no better. With the departure of leading receiver Devin Funchess (Rd 2 Carolina) to the NFL means that Michigan returns just five touchdown catches from last season. Hatrbaugh likes to pound the rock but the running game has a ways to go. The offensive line returns intact but was ineffective last year. They will be overrated again. The top three RBs are back too but none got over 520 yards. At least they found the endzone scoring a combined 13 of Michigan's 17 rushing TDs last year.
As poorly as the Wolvies did last year, the defense at least held up. finishing a respectable 27th in points allowed. 24 players return from the 3 deep but they lose LB Jake Ryan (Rd 4 Green Bay), home invader and domestic violence convict DE Frank Clark (Rd 2 Seattle) and DE Brennen Beyer (UDFA Baltimore). New DC DJ Durkin (interim HC and DC at Florida) said he will mix up going with a 3-4 and 4-3 but during the spring game stayed almost wntirely with the 4-3. The unit should be solid again.
Vegas didn't get caught up too much in Harbaugh mania although they did raise the win total to 7.5. There are probably two wins at the start with @ Utah, Oregon State, UNLV and BYU. Give them another 3 among @ Maryland, Northwestern, Rutgers and @Indiana which gives 5 with a max six. To get to eight you need two wins over MSU, @ Minnesota, @ Penn State and Ohio State. Ain't happening. Even if the win total were 1, I will always take the under with Michigan. It almost always pays off. UNDER
All the talk about the great John Harbaugh and legendary Urban Meyer has one good side effect. It keeps that big chip on the Spartan's shoulders. Something you don't want to give to Mark Dantonio,
I'll keep this one simple. MD has everything coming back he needs to win the Big Ten and a spot in the playoffs. QB - check, offensive line check, great defense, check, toughness, double check. Sure he lost Lippet, and Langford. He will miss DBs Drummond and Waynes. But the Spartans have reached the point where they just reload. The only question is will he miss DC Pat Narduzzi - the only DC he has ever had. Maybe, but he kept the rest of the staff intact and they know what Mark wants. MSU will roll again.
Vegas is more concerned. They dropped the win total to 9.5. That means they are spotting you Ohio State and one other game (Oregon maybe). You don't need the extra help. The season will come down to one game - @ Ohio State. Win and they are in the playoffs. This is one of my favorite OVERS
Let's just say that Jerry Kill is Mark Dantonio light. He develops players and keeps his staff intact. In fact, his 10 man staff has been with Jerry for a combined 154 years - the longest tenure in college football. He has fashioned his teams in a manner similar to the Spartans. The Gophers have used a stable running game backed by a solid defense to win back to back eight win seasons for the first time since 2002-3. Kill was within a half of winning the Big Ten West and managed to take his team to a New Year’s Day bowl game last season – the first Minnesota coach to do so since 1962.
The task at hand this year, though, could be his most difficult to date. The Gophers had four players taken in this year's draft - the largest haul of Gophers taken since 2006.
Last year's offense centered on departed RB David Cobb (Rd 5 Tennessee). Minnesota fed him the ball 315 times last year. Next up will be retruning RB Berkely Edwards (Braylon's brother) who got the rock a mere 30 times last year. The thunder to Edward's lightning will be Rodrick Williams who touched the ball 23 times last year. The offensive line should be one of the better ones in the Big Ten and returns four starters from a team that finished 28th in rushing last year.
Steady QB Mitch Leidner returns for his third year as a starter. Leidner's role is to make teams pay of they start sneaking up against the run. His job will be a bit harder with the departure of his top two WRs from last year including early entry TE Maxx Williams (Rd 2 Baltimore). KJ Maye, who had only 16 receptions last year, is expected to be the top target.
The defense was solid but not spectacular last year finishing 39th overall. Seven starters return although a key departure was LB Damien Wilson (Rd 4 Dallas). The secondary will be the strength led by seniors CBs Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray.
If Kill can win eight games again this season do it again, it’ll mark the first time ever – even with the glory days and national championships – that Minnesota has come up with three straight eight-win seasons. Vegas doesn't see it dropping the projected win total to 5.5.. The out of conference play has TCU, Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio so that equates to 3 wins. To get to 6 they will need to beat @ Purdue, @ Iowa and Illinois. @ Northwestern and Michigan are also possibilities. I like Kill as a coach. He will get to at least six and get the OVER
Nine and 10 wins became the norm for Pelini, yet his prickly style (and not getting over that hump) got him canned. So Nebraska reached out to media friendly and nice guy Mark Riley to take over. Riley has won nine games only once since 2008.
Mike Riley first order of business was to install a pro-style offense. A style far removed from the one returning QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. is used to. Armstrong was the the team’s second-leading rusher a year ago behind the departed RB Ameer Abdullah (Rd 2 Detroit). Now he must learn how to become more of a pocket passer. Armstrong completed 53 percent of his passes for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns with 12 picks last season. New OC and QB coach Danny Langsdorf is hoping that Armstrong will improve his efficiency while still using the threat of his running capability on third downs to energize the offense. Armstrong's favorite target Kenny Bell (Rd 5 Tampa Bay) is off to the NFL but Jordan Westerkamp returns. Westerkamp is an excellent possession WR and does the dirty work blocking downfield.
Losing Abdullah is a huge hit. Riley is likely to feature returning Sr Imani Cross and Jaquizz Rodgers clone Mikhail Wilbon to fill the hole. The OL was up and down last year and loses all three of its interior starters. Returning starting OTs Alex Lewis and Zach Sterup are solid and the OL should be in the middle of the Big Ten pack.
On defense, new DC Mark Banker has promised to simplify Pelini's complex set of schemes. He will run mainly from a base 4-3. His problems start with having to replace star DE Randy Gregory (Rd 2 Dallas). The linebacking corps took a big hit with the losses of Zaire Anderson (UDFA Denver) and Trevor Roach (UDFA Cincinnati). The secondary also has holes with the loss of S Corey Cooper (UDFA New Orleans) and CB Josh Mitchell (UDFA Indianapolis). That's a lot of holes to fill. DT Maliek Collins is expected to star on the defensive line The rest of the defense should suffer a setback.
Riley's honeymoon period will be a short one. If he fails to win nine games the fans will start to panic. Vegas gives him a chance to win nine setting the regular season win total at eight. The fans will get a good bead on the time straight away as the face BYU at home. The a layup with South Alabama followed by a visit from Miami (FL) then a home date with Southern Miss. I'll go with three wins to start. In the Big Ten play all the easy games are on the road with @ Illinois, @Purdue, and @ Rutgers. They also get Northwestern and Iowa at home. Lets say four wins there - gets you to seven.The eighth game will have to come from either Wisconsin, Minnesota or Michigan State. I'm not sold on Mike Riley. Nice guy but you know what they say about nice guys. I'll go with the UNDER
What a turnaround its been for the Wildcats - and not in a good way. By the end 2012, Pat Fitzgerald seemed to have done the impossible - make Northwestern a force. He had just won 10 games including a win over an SEC team in a bowl game. It was Northwestern's fifth straight bowl appearance. Recruiting was on the upswing and they were developing a reputation for quirky offenses, feisty defenses and great special teams play. Then, somehow, the bottom fell out. Over the last two years, the Wildcats have won a total of ten games combined. Last yer, they lost five of their last seven - the worst being, with bowl eligibility on the line, they lost to a bad Illinois team at home. It didn't help that Northwestern lost five games over the last three years on the last play of the game. Is Northwestern going back to being Northwestern again? This could be the season that answers that question.
The decline can be blamed primarily on an offense that finished 104th overall last season. HC Pat Fitzgerald first must replace the erratic QB Trevor Siemian (Rd 7 Denver). His replacement is a huge mystery with last year's backup Zack Oliver looking awful - turning the ball over four time in four possessions (with five total in the game) in the loss to Illinois. The other leading contender, Clayton Thorson, hasn't played a down of football since his senior year in high school.
Whoever gets the nod will be throwing to a receiving corps that will be missing its top two ball catchers from last season. Christian Jones is expected to be the main target this year. Jones missed the 2014 season due to injury but was the WildCats leading receiver in 2012 and 2013. The offensive line replaces three starters from last year. It may be just as well. Last year, the OL was a sieve (34 sacks) and week (3.37 yards per carry). The running back situation is the brightest spot with the return of So. Justin Jackson. Jackson is one of only two RBs returning in the Big Ten with over 1,000 yards.
On defense, the good news is the entire defensive line returns. The bad news is they sucked. Northwestern generated a meager 17 sacks last year - last in the Big ten and 108th overall. The linebacking corps loses two including the teams top tackler Chi Chi Ariguzo (UDFA San Diego). The secondary should be the strongest unit on a suspect defense with the return of all its starters.
Vegas has Northwestern sneaking into a bowl, setting the win total at 6.5. With a schedule that starts with Stanford, Eastern Illinois, @ Duke and Ball State there is 2-3 wins. The Big Ten schedule features @ Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, Purdue and @ Illinois. Lets be generous and call three wins there. Minnesota, @ Nebraska and @ Wisconsin are unlikely wins therefore the likely win total is 6. I can't root against my Cats and I would get disinvited to Casa Bruce - so rather than go with the under I'll PASS
This was supposed to be the year that Ohio State challenged for the National Championship. 2014 was supposed to be a trial run to give everyone some experience and then watch out. Then they caught fire at the end of last season They got their championship a year early.
No need to beat the analysis to death. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent everywhere and well coached. There will be favored in every game this year. Vegas agrees, setting the win total at 11. Basically they are spotting you one loss to either MSU or a rivalry upset by Michigan. To get the under you would need losses to both or perhaps an upset by Va Tech again or Minnesota. I can't root for the Bucknuts nor do I think they will lose two games. I'll PASS
It was a one step forward, one step back year for Penn State in 2014. The offense regressed by 100 yards per game while the defense improved by 100 yards per game. The net result - back to back seven game win seasons.
On offense, Christian Hackenberg went from throwing 20 TDs against 10 picks in 2013 to 12 and 15 in 2014. A large part of the blame falls on the offensive line. It was horrible last year allowing 44 sacks (114th overall). 80% of the two deep returns on a line. The line was young and inexperienced last year. It will still be young as there is only one senior and no one has more than 13 starts. If Hackenberg can stay upright, the main beneficiary should be WR DaeSean Hamilton. Hamilton led the Big Ten in receptions last year with 82. The running game will feature the rather average RB Akeel Lynch.
On the flip side, Penn State's defense was fantastic last year finishing third against the run. ninth against the pass and second overall. It returns virtually intact with four of its top six linemen, three of four linebackers, and three of four defensive backs all coming back for another fun year. DT Alex Zettel is a star in the making.
Vegas pegs the Lions as a program in the rise - upping the win total to 7.5 this year. PSU could very easily start out 6-0 with an opening slate of @Temple, Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State, Army and Indiana. Get two more with @ Maryland, Illinois and @ Northwestern and you are playing with house money. A home game with Michigan gives you some cushion too. I'm going to rely on the defense to win games until the offensive line gels. I'll take the OVER
When HC Darrell Hazell was brought in in 2013, he knew he had a rebuilding job on his hands. Not unexpectedly, 2013 was a complete disaster. 2014 showed some progress. Playing 70 underclassmen last year, the team improved on offense by 62 YPG while the defense improved by 44 YPG. But the overall results have not been very encouraging. You are what your record says you are. Under Hazell, Purdue's record is 1-15 in the Big Ten, none at home, and no wins after the first week of October. Year three will determine if there is a year four for Darrell.
Hazell's offensive strategy is a passing attack that draws the defense in with dinks and dunks and then tries to pop a long one. Jr QB Austin Appleby returns from a 2014 season where he started OK but cratered at the end of the season. Overall, he barely completed 50% of his passes while throwing 10 TDs against 11 picks. Don't be surprised if redshirt freshman David Blough takes the reins at some point during the season. Part of the reason that the passing attack crumbled was the loss of deep threat WR Danny Anthrop. Anthrop was off to an excellent start before getting hurt against Nebraska. His return will re energize the passing attack. The running game loses it's top two ball carriers in Akeem Hunt (UDFA NY Giants) and Raheem Mostert (UDFA Philadelphia). The expected starting RBs are So DJ Knox and true freshman Markell Jones. Neither has had a carry in a college game. If the offense struggles, it won't be due to the OL. The offense line returns all of its two deeps and should be the best facet of the offense.
The defense employs a bend but don't break philosophy. The "don't break" part could be challenged with the loss of safeties Landon Feichter (UDFA Cleveland) and Taylor Richards. The good news is physical CBs 2nd team All Big Ten Frankie Williams and Sr Anthony Brown return. Last season, the linbackers were a weak spot when they were forced to play two freshman and a sophomore. They all return and should improve with experience. The defensive line has some potential play makers in NT Ryan Watson and DT Jake Replogle.
Even with 8 starters returning on offense and another 8 on defense, Vegas doesn't expect much progress out of the Boilers - setting the win total at 4. The season starts with @ Marshall, Indiana State, Virginia Tech and Bowling Green. Maybe they can get two wins out of the gate. If they are going to get the over the will need 3 more wins in the Big Ten. The November slate has the most likely candidates with Illinois, @Northwestern, @ Iowa and Indiana. I have my doubts about Hazell and his team. Not sure they can get to 5. I'll PASS
Rutgers is one of the hardest teams to figure out in the Big Ten, if not the country. No one expected much from the Knights when the moved conferences, yet this is a team that has gone to nine bowls in 10 seasons and have won nine or more games four times, In their first season in the Big Ten, they finished a decent 8-5 (3-5 in conference) including a win over Michigan and blew out North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl (something Dobbie will bring up when Ellis is feeling full of himself at our cigar and whiskey get togethers).
Rutgers has an identity crisis. What do they want to be known for? In 2012 the Knights had a fantastic defense ending the year 15th overall. . But the offense was terrible ranking 102nd. Under HC Kyle Flood the defense tanked ending the 2014 season ranked 100th. The offense showed improvement but only got to 76th. They were bad on offense and horrible on defense yet went 8-5 - mainly due to they beat the sisters of the poor but got obliterated by good teams.
Maybe that's where Rutgers fits in. Getting to a bowl most years but never really contending for a top spot in the Big Ten.
The offense this year has to replace four year starter, wildly inconsistent, Gary "Scary" Nova. The likely starter is backup Chris Laviano. Laviano completed only 11 passes last year and had a QBR of 64.2. He'll be protected by a line that must replace three players who had combined for 112 career starts. Two two-year starters, tackle Keith Lumpkin and guard Chris Muller both return. The skill positions will be a strength. RB Paul James is productive when he is on the field averaging 5.7 yards per carry. But he never quite completes a season . In 2013, he had a broken fibula and last season,he tore his ACL. Also helping is the return of All Big Ten WR Leonte Carroo. Last season, Carroo caught 55 passes for 1,086 yards and ten touchdowns.
As bad as the defense was there were some bright spots. returning DE Kemoko "Dragon" Turay earned freshman All American honors with 7.5 sacks, 26 tackles and three blocked kicks. Senior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton has the athleticsm to make some plays up the middle,
Linebacker play should be improved in 2015 as Jr LB Steve Longa and Jr LB Quentin Gause are joined by South Carolina graduate transfer Kaiwan Lewis Longa was a freshman all-American middle linebacker in 2013. Only one returning starter could return in the Rutgers' secondary, and even that's up in the air. Jr CB Nadir Barnwell had 29 tackles but could be ruled academically ineligible.
Vegas doesn't know what to expect from Rutgers and has dropped the win total to 5. Are there five cupcakes? There are three likely win in September with Norfolk State, Washington State and Kansas. @ Army over the Thanksgiving Day weekend should also be a win (sorry Dwink). Get two more wind over @Indiana and Maryland and you have six. That sounds about right. I'll take the OVER
What is wrong with being the Badger head coach? First, Bret Bielema bolts for Arkansas. You can argue that is a better position. But then Gary Andersen scoots to Oregon State. Really? Oregon State is a better gig then Wisconsin? So Big Barry makes the right move and brings back his former OC Paul Chryst. Chryst maybe the third coach in four years in Madison, but he is exactly what Wisconsin needed. He lives and breathes BadgerBall and will keep Wisconsin where they should be - a title contender in the Big Ten West.
Most offenses would be looking at a huge drop off in the running game if they lost the best back in college football (Melvin Gordon Rd 1 San Diego). But this is Wisconsin. They just plug in another great back. Bucky has had an unbelievable 13 thousand yard rushers in the last 11 years. Next up for stardom - Corey Clement backed by redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal. The offensive line will also lose three tremendous players in All American Kyle Costigan (retired from football due to medical reasons), fellow All American Rob Havenstein (Rd 2 St Louis) and two year starter Dallas Lewallen. No worries, Wisconsin will just plug in the next cheese fed road grader and the running game will hum.
It's when the passing attack is competent when Wisconsin's offense is special. That may not be the case this year. Returning starting QB Joel Stave lost his starting position for the more athletic Tanner McEvoy. He got it back when McEvoy sucked. Stave is effective when facing bad to middling teams but falls apart when facing good defenses (see Ohio State, Big Ten championship game). He won't be helped by a rather pedestrian WR corps.
On defense, the biggest returner is not a player but DC Dave Aranda. Aranda came from Utah State with Andersen but didn't follow him to Corvallis. Last year, his defense held 5 teams to season low yardage and two others to second lowest. His first job this year will be to rebuild the front seven. .Gone are DEs Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring (UDFA Atlanta) along with LBs Marcus Trotter and Derek Landisch. The secondary was solid last year and returns all four starters from a pass defense that finished fourth overall.
Wisconsin is the defending Big Ten West champ and will be favored again. Vegas likes the stability and expects Bucky to roll again. They kept the win total at 10 which means they spot you two losses. Alabama to start the season in one. In Big ten play they get Maryland and Rutgers out of the East. That means they expect one loss out of the West. Nebraska and Minnesota are the likely candidates but they have won three of four against Nebraska and 11 straight against Minnesota. 11 wins seems a bit much to put on Stave. I’ll go with Vegas and PASS
Remember the 2015 Go Jumbo trip is November 7th at the LVH
TRIVIA ANSWER - The seven teams are Arsenal (my favorite - Go Gunners!) Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
TRIVIA ANSWER - The seven teams are Arsenal (my favorite - Go Gunners!) Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.