Welcome to Part 2 of my 4 part Big Ten Preseason Power Rankings. Let’s get right into it.
Rank 9. Big Ten: Northwestern
I am not drinking the NW kool aid like so many pundits are doing. Look I understand that Dan Persa is a very solid QB but there is no guarantee that he will return to form coming off such a bad injury. Most of the time when you are dealing with a severe Achilles injury, it usually takes 2 years for the individual to come back to his best form. I expect the same from Persa and since as Persa goes, so goes the Wildcats, I don’t think Northwestern will have a strong year. Honestly, I don’t know much about their defense except that they left a lot to be desired last season and I expect more of the same…
Rank 8. Big Ten: Illinois
Not much was expected from Ron Zook and Illinois last season and they surprised most with four Big Ten wins and a bowl bid. I expect them to continue to be in bowl contention but losing Leshoure to the NFL will keep them from taking that big step forward and competing in the new Division. Their schedule is pretty easy, in fact they might end up; if they maximize their talent, landing 9 wins. Again though, if Leshoure had stayed I would have had them higher, and perhaps had made them a dark horse for their division. Either way, don’t expect them to be a pushover by any means. I really thought about putting them higher but after watching their defense in person vs. Michigan last season, I just can’t put them higher right now.
Rank 7. Big Ten: Penn State
While Penn State may not have a clear cut choice at QB, they do have a number of weapons in the WRs core for whoever gets the nod. Yes they lost Evan Royster but they have a strong O-Line that I expect will pick up the slack in the running game. I expect good things out of the offense, the defense I’m not too sure of. I think the defense holds them back from competing for their division… it also doesn’t help they close the year home vs. Nebraska, @O$U and @Wisconsin.
Well that raps up this edition, look out next week for 6th, 5th, and 4th ranked Big Ten Teams.