Random Thoughts on 2011 Big Ten Season

Submitted by RationalMSUfan on January 21st, 2011 at 11:04 AM

1. Stock Down - Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois.  I was a bit surprised to see Wiscy so high in the way to early 2011 pre-season polls.  In my opinion, their defense was not very good this year, but their deficiencies were masked by their powerful offense.  That same defense loses their best player in Watt.  On offense they lose dominating OL Carimi and Moffett. I know Wiscy will have viable replacements, but Carimi is a likely top 10 pick.  They also lose Tolzien/Clay.  I have found that when you have a new QB, you always lose a game or two based on that lack of experience.

Iowa loses a ton on Defense (Clayborn and Sash) as well as Stanzi.  Like Wiscy, they will be breaking in a new QB.

Illinois had a nice comeback season and promptly lost their 3 best players (all Juniors) to the NFL in Leguet, Wilson and Lasheure (forgive in spelling errors).

2.  Stock Up - Not really sure who to put here.  I think Michigan will be improved mainly because their defense can't be any worse.  Getting Woolfolk and Floyd back and switching to a pro-style offense will no doubt help the defense.  Any other team projected to improve?

3.  Steady - My spartans.  I think they will probably be worse record wise with OSU and Nebraska jumping on the schedule (both away games) but I think the team could actually be better if that makes any sense.  Spartans lose 3 OLineman, but all 3 were mid level (that is being polite since they were 2 starts) talents . The younger replacements were all higher regarded as prospects. We return Cousins and Baker in the backfield and a quartet of Recievers (Cunningham, Martin, Nichol, Fowler) with experience. Defense loses LB duo of Jones and Gordon and will be largest question mark.

4. OSU - Will the NCAA reduce the supsensions of the tattoo ring?

5. How good will Nebraska be? Early in the year, they looked very very scary. A very good defense and a potent offense led by an exciting young QB.  By the end of the year, their offense looked downright awful.   Their B10 schedule is pretty brutal.




January 21st, 2011 at 11:26 AM ^

I like their offensive weapons, but losing 3 O-Lineman can be huge...but I think a steady O as compared to last year sounds correct.  Losing two multi-year starter LB's (and one who was the best MSU defender in a generation) is not something to sweep under the rug.  They made MSU's secondary and D-Line better.  I see a step back in record and defensive performance for Spaty...I say 8-4. 

OSU will have the same questions losing their two strong LB's as well.


I think PSU and Northwestern could be stock up as well....


January 21st, 2011 at 11:27 AM ^

is a sparty fan (commence the neg bombs) and he feels the same way you do about them being better next year although their record probably wont show it.  IMO, the bow game revealed the real sparty team as they needed the greatest amount of luck to beat ND, NW, and Purdue.  However, Ill give credit where credit is due.


Next year, I feel Illinois will be improved.  Their qb (I wont even try to spell his name) is going to be a good one for the next few years.  OSU will again be the team to beat as they return their 5 best following their 1st Big Ten game. I also see Nebraska struggling.  They had the 106th (I believe) rated pass offense and in the big ten you cannot be one-dimensional.


January 21st, 2011 at 11:34 AM ^

Michigan State steady?  I thought you were rational.  7-5.

Losses @ ND, @ OSU, Wisconsin, @ Nebraska, @ Iowa and that assumes no Sparty No!1!1 or Michigan, who I think will beat MSU next year.


January 21st, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

I think you are underrating the fact that Michigan State's record will be worse.  Would you consider 8-4 steady?  I wouldn't, and they are probably looking at 9-3 at best.  How easily people forget that MSU was 6-7 in 2009.  That jump to 11-1 is in no way sustainable.  They will come back to Earth, in a similar fashion to Iowa this season, and lose some of the close games that they won this year. 

They play at ND, at OSU, at Nebraska, at Iowa, and they have Wisconsin and Michigan at home in back-to-back weeks.  You may consider them "better" or "steady" on paper, but at the end of the season, their record will almost certainly indicate that MSU took a step back.


January 21st, 2011 at 12:07 PM ^

I appreciate the great year sparty had, and I don't want to knock them there but I would put them at a strong 8-4/9-3 even with a great core of returning starters.  as they did get very lucky with a few games. 

However over the long haul I think that factors are trending toward a downard trend.  First, I think that the return of ND as  powerhouse (at least in recruiting) and Michigan to the state of Ohio under Hoke will impact their talent. 

Finally I have a questions for Rational: I hear from a Sparty friend of mine who is close to the program that they get a lot of recruits from Tressel and that Treadwell was the man behind the courtain and Dantonio will suffer with out him.  Those sound like urban myths to me but if you look at who they recruit, and the Wiscy game which Dantonio was distanced from, it makes one wonder. 

Also, isn't Sparty totally disapointed with this year's recruiting class. A 11-1 season, finish at No. 14 and they still have a very average (not top 25) class coming in.  That would worry me. 


January 21st, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

PSU will be much better. MSU had a special season with a special easy schedule - I expect a number of setbacks here.

OSU with the suspensions will be worse and will knock them out of the championship and maybe a BCS bowl bid.

I see a PSU and Nebraska championship game.


January 21st, 2011 at 11:46 AM ^

Hiring Mattison was huge for you guys. He'll recruit from the current roster, move people around, coach 'em up, and Michigan will have a respectable defense in 2011. In a few years Michigan will have one of the B1Gs best defenses.  Saw it happen when Pelini took over at Nebraska, took a train wreck defense and had them playing well the next season.

Mattison is that good, plus as a bonus he "gets" Michigan.

MI Expat NY

January 21st, 2011 at 11:56 AM ^

Based on the Nov. 28 Depth Chart on Rivals, they lose 5 starters on D (DE, LB, LB, CB, S) and 6 on O (FB, WR, TE, T, T, C).  That's a lot to lose at some important positions.  Cousins and the returning backfield will give them some stability, but it's hard to see State "reloading."  I would expect a backslide.  


January 21st, 2011 at 11:56 AM ^


- Iowa/Wisky Based on the comments by OP

- Indiana: losing Doss Belcher and Chappelle and breaking in a new coach

- MSU: losing the anchor of a defense that was average to begin with.

- Michigan: Growing pains with the new coach/system

- OSU: Suspensions/losses on the defensive side of the ball

- Illinois: Young Defense will only get better under year 2 Koenning.


- Nebraska: Seemed to collapse down the stretch last year. Martinez gets another year of experience

- PSU: McGloin looks promising. Bolden can compete for the starting job. Offensive line issues should be better with a year of experience.

- Northwestern: Watch out for a healthy Persa.

- Purdue: Unless the injury bug strikes again

- Minnesota: Can't be any worse.


Overall, it should be an exciting year with 3 new head coaches being broken in.

MI Expat NY

January 21st, 2011 at 12:15 PM ^

Honest question: you really think Michigan is going to be worse next year?  Looking at the schedule, swap out Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana for Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota, seems like a net win.  Michigan returns almost every key player.  Under normal conditions, you would expect a 2-3 game jump just on those factors alone.  

The offense does have the potential to take a step back with the changes, but I can't see the defensive coaching changes being anything but a huge positive.  

If you are truly pessimistic about Michigan's ability to adapt to the coaching change, I could see that costing the team maybe two games, but based on where the talent says the team should be, I'd expect that makes Michigan no worse than "steady" as compared to last year.

Zone Left

January 21st, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

There are very legitimate reasons to be concerned about Michigan next year.  Three of their wins could easily have been losses and they weren't competitive in any of their losses.  ND and SDSU are probably upgrades from last year's version of ND and UConn respectively.  That may offset the lightened load next season in the Big 10.

In personnel terms, no one knows if Denard will be effective as a QB in the new offense (or at least suffer growing pains) and no one has any idea what will happen on defense.

Just like the OP said about the Spartans, I can see Michigan treading water, but ending up with the same record.

MI Expat NY

January 21st, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

I think that's being very pessimistic.  ND is an upgrade, but it's also at home in the first night game.  I don't think SDSU is an upgrade.  It might be equivalent to UConn, but they lose about 8 starters and are going through some form of transition on offense.  

Yes, the offense might to significantly worse than last year without the defense getting significantly better, but I think that's a long shot considering the number of returning starters.  I guess I was just taken aback by expecting Michigan to be worse coming off a disappointing season with a disproportionate youthful team all because of a coaching change.  

I think it's very possible for this team to be back in the 6-6/7-5 range, but not worse than last years team.  


January 21st, 2011 at 12:10 PM ^

Alabama game will give your Spartans a little bit of a hangover.  I think that can be somewhat of a tough blow to shake off for a program reaching for elite and believing they had made substantial progress toward it.  Combine that with the fact that they open the conference season in Columbus and the fact that they did truly catch a few breaks this seaon, I see them coming back to earth a little.  Solid, but 3-4 losses.

MI Expat NY

January 21st, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

They're actually lucky to start the season in Columbus.  That's the fifth game of the suspension and is undoubtedly going to be the weakest OSU team that a Big Ten opponent faces all season.  OSU loses 11 or so starters, and for the first few games, it is essentially 14 starters with 2 more would be starters.  OSU obviously reloads better than any school in the conference, but that's going to take a while to overcome.  


January 21st, 2011 at 12:32 PM ^

Nebraska is going to be down a little next year. They are losing a Darrelle Reavis caliber lock down corner and a ton of other guys on defense. Their offense was good against bad defenses, but they were not very good against the good defenses in the big 12 like Oklahoma, Texas, and A&M. I think the toughness of the defense in the big 10 will be tough for them coming from a league that's all about offense. I think they only go about .500 in conference


January 21st, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

MSU could be like Iowa this year. MSU was good last year, but not 11-1 good. They had an easy schedule and overachieved big time. They should still be good, but they will not be 11-1 again. More like 9-3. They're lucky they get OSU with all their players suspended.


January 21st, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

Michigan will be up.  Their O/U for next year in Vegas will most certainly be higher than it was this year (6.5 or 7.0 depending on when you got in). 

I think our season plays out in one of two ways (both heading to a regular season record of 9-3):

- We either blow the game to ND or to SDSU.  Panic ensues, but composure is regained.  We end up running the table until Nebraska, where we are ranked in the top 10.  Unfortunately, we lose our last two games. 

- For the third year in a row, we run the table in our OOC schedule.  We drop 3 losses in the B10 to some combination of MSU/Wiscy/Neb/OSU.

I would provide a guess on how some of the other teams will fare, but you don't want to read that garbage (I don't follow the other B10 teams as nearly as much as Michigan, obviously).