Rank 6. Big Ten: Iowa
It took me a while to figure out where to put Iowa, they had a really disappointing season last year and now only return nine starters. The biggest loss of course being that of losing Ricky Stanzi, their new field general will be junior James Vandenberg who I expect to be at least a serviceable QB. The big plus side is that they have a big and experienced O-Line which should take a lot of pressure off of the new QB. As for the defense, it’s mostly all new starters. When considering all the question marks of Iowa you might wonder why I put them this high, I feel like Iowa plays best when expectations aren’t high (they are not for this season). I think the coaching staff will be able to coach up the defense, so I’m expecting a reasonable positive rebuilding year for the Hawkeyes.
Rank 5. Big Ten: Michigan State
Fine, call me bias but I don’t think Kirk Cousins is all that good. He threw too many INTs last season and I don’t see that changing much. While I know they are two very different QBs but I have to say he kind of reminds me of Juice Williams, throughout their careers they look great in some spots and look like they have real issues in others. Sparty’s offensive line and defense was exposed for most of last season and I don’t expect them to get much better. I expect an up and down year and see them starting strong and ending strong. It’s just that batch in the middle that will due them in; @OSU (last game of suspicions), Michigan, Wisconsin, @Nebraska. They would be lucky going 2-2, I expect 1-3 at best.
Rank 4. Big Ten: Michigan
There is not much I can say that you don’t already know. I expect Denard Robinson not to have a big learning curve as some pundits expect. He ran a very similar offense in High School as Michigan will be running in 2011. I think with a full year as starter under his built, D-Rob and the Offense will cut back a bit on turnovers (which is the key to success on the O). As for the defense, just having a real Defensive Coordinator that knows what he is doing will be huge. Combine that with the amount of players returning and I don’t see why this unit should not show a lot of improvement (now for the performance of last season a lot of improvement would be an average to below-average Defense). Make know mistake about it, as Denard goes, so goes Michigan, but if the D can just stop embarrassing itself, the Wolverines can surprise some people this year.