Now is the time of year when everyone lets their predictions be known for the upcoming football season. We here at VBR are no different. We will be brining you plenty of predictions about the upcoming Penn State season in a roundtable format using our staff members. For the first roundtable of the season, we felt it would be appropriate to start with predictions for the Big Ten Championship since Big Ten Media Days are currently going on in Chicago.
Let’s see who our staff members think will be playing for the Big Ten Championship in December.
Lead Editor Barry Leonard Jr.
With Penn State still ineligible for postseason play I guess I have to change my prediction. Actually, even if the Nittany Lions could play in the Big Ten Championship, I wouldn’t be picking them. When the conference made new divisions for this season, Penn State got put into the loaded East division with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
The battle to see who represents the East is going to be a good one. I think that Michigan State and Ohio State are the two best teams in the entire conference, but only one can play in Indianapolis in December. I’m going to give the edge to Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes, as they will be eager to avenge the loss to the Spartans in last year’s championship game.
The race to win the West will likely come down to Wisconsin and Nebraska. Those two should battle for the top spot all season with a November 15 battle in Madison looming as a large game. In the end I look for the Badgers to make it back to the Big Ten Championship, where they will eventually lose to an undefeated Ohio State team. The Buckeyes will be champions of the Big Ten and will have definite National Championship aspirations in 2014.
Staff Writer Eric Sion
I think that this season’s Big Ten Championship game will feature Ohio State vs. Wisconsin. Ohio State is an easy pick for a few reasons. First, they return the best offensive player in the conference (and one of the best in the country) in Braxton Miller. Their defensive line might be the best in the nation and even though stud linebacker Ryan Shazier is gone, that unit overall will be more balanced. And I believe there will be a sense of urgency from this team because the expectations are high and the pressure is on Urban Meyer to deliver championships.
Picking Wisconsin wasn’t as easy, but I still like the Badgers to return to the title game. Their schedule is favorable, as they don’t play Ohio State or Michigan State and they get Nebraska at home. In terms of on the field, Wisconsin has Melvin Gordon, who I believe is a top three running back in the nation, and we know that their offensive line will always be one of the best. So look for the Buckeyes and the Badgers to meet in Indianapolis on December 6, with the Buckeyes coming out on top.
Staff Writer Corey Hunter
Over in the Big Ten West the seven members include Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Wisconsin and Iowa were both gifted with relatively easy conference schedules, so I look for those two to battle it out in late November for the division crown. In the end, Wisconsin will have too much for the Hawkeyes.
With the conference championship pitting Ohio State and Wisconsin, look for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes to complete what they couldn’t last year – a Big Ten Conference title.
On the Western side of the conference the Iowa Hawkeyes return 13 starters from a year ago, with 8 on the offensive side of the ball and 5 on the defensive side. The Hawkeyes return a number of key players on the offensive side of the ball including; quarterback Jake Rudock, leading rusher Mark Weisman, leading receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and tight end Jake Duzey. If Iowa can replace the three linebackers that they lost after last season, they should very well be able to give Wisconsin and Nebraska a fight for the top spot in the West.
I have to stick with the popular pick and take the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the 2014 Big Ten Championship. With the talent they return on defense and Braxton Miller still under center, I think the Buckeyes will prove to be too much to handle for whichever opponent they may face in the Big Ten Championship Game.