Official Husker Locker Blog
2011 Jun 15
Big Ten Preseason Rankings – Leaders Division: Part Two
With the bottom half of the Leaders division rankings established, it’s time to add the three at the top. The previous group was comprised of Indiana, Purdue and Illinois leaving Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Who will win the division and head to Indianapolis for the inaugural Big Ten Championship game?
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes' program has been nothing less than a circus since the end of last year. What originated as several players being suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season has now become much worse. Beloved head coach Jim Tressel resigned and quarterback Terrell Pryor has departed leaving a disastrous scandal in their wake. What does this mean for THE Ohio State University?
The Buckeyes still have four players that will be sitting out until the team faces Nebraska in October. While Ohio State is not at a complete loss for talent, young guys like quarterback Braxton Miller will have to step up and fill the void of those not playing.
Even interim head coach Luke Fickell has much to prove in 2011, but he appears up to the challenge. The season won’t be a total bust for Ohio State, but it won’t be a pretty sight either. If the team can stay mentally strong through the season and weather the storm surrounding the program, 2012 could bring the Buckeyes back among the Big Ten elite. They likely won't be taking the conference title again this year, though.
Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 12/1
2. Penn State
The 2010 season was disappointing for Penn State, a team that finished 7-6 overall and 0-4 against ranked foes. In 2011, the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to take advantage of Ohio State’s shortcomings and place themselves high in the Leaders division.
While the offense needs plenty of work having lost nearly the entire line, the defense will be a strength. In fact, Penn State is returning both its entire defensive line and secondary.
The Nittany Lions will have home-field advantage during many defining games this season including Alabama and Nebraska's visits to Happy Valley. Providing one of the most intimidating venues in both the conference and across the country, Penn State will use their environment to gain a mental advantage. Don’t expect another 7-6 season from the Nittany Lions. 10 wins is not only an obtainable goal, but very realistic.
Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 6/1
“Wisconsin doesn’t lose in Madison.” This statement rings true more often than not as Wisconsin has a 43-4 record at home since 2004. With eight home games in 2011 and Ohio State’s struggles, it seems like conditions could not be better for the Badgers to make a run at the Big Ten title.
However, Wisconsin has a number of holes to fill on offense. It’s easy to assume that doing so shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a team that outscored Michigan, Indiana, and Northwestern by a combined score of 201-71 last season. Don’t forget the 2011 Rose Bowl, though. TCU stunned a Badgers team that hadn’t lost in three months with their unique offense and suffocating defense.
This season, Wisconsin will be relying on players like running backs Montee Ball and James White and sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr to step up. If the offense can provide answers for current question marks and stay healthy, Wisconsin may not skip a beat.
Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 2/1
Who will Wisconsin face in the Big Ten Championship? Find out when the Big Ten preseason power rankings reveal the fate of the Legends division.
Leaders 4-6, Legends 4-6
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